Unger & Schoep

John Unger’s the hoomin and Schoep is his 19 year old puppeh. They’ve been together since Schoep was a wee little guy. (Schoep got his name from this ice cream store.) Unger found out that warm water helps Schoep’s arthritis, so he hauls him out into Lake Superior where Schoep can just relax.

This photo has taken off and now donations are pouring in to help pay for some treatment for Schoep! The photographer, Hannah Stonehouse Hudson, says she’ll donate a percentage of the sales of the photo to help with the Schoepster’s bills.
If you’d like to help, you can call the Bay Area Animal Hospital at 715-682-8865, credit cards are accepted. Checks can be sent to them at 3601 E. Highway 2, Ashland, WI 54806. Just write “Schoep” in the memo area.

The Duluth News Tribune has more details.

Update: That’s Schoep at the vet, photo from the Trib. They’ve updated the story here.



  1. puppeh looks so content

    (y si, I know he’s no longer a young dog, but they’re always a puppeh to me)

    *wipes non-tears*

  3. instantly weeping over here.


  5. Mischief Girl says:

    Gee whiz, the picture alone makes me cry! If anyone has ever wondered, this is what LOVE looks like.

  6. i_wuvs_puttins says:

    Bless Mr. Unger! Grabbing a tissue…

  7. Wait … warm water helps his arthritis, so he takes him out into *Lake Superior*?! Something does not compute here!

    Also, that photo is amazing.

  8. Warm water in Lake Superior?!!!

  9. yeah, a Great Lake + warm H20 did not compucute!

  10. Page not found for one of the links.

  11. Looks like links are fixed. Yay!

  12. Semi-Crazy Cat Lady says:

    I….I seem to have something in my eye….sniff…

  13. This is such a beautiful picture. It always humbles me when I think of the unconditional love and trust that animals give us. We are so not worthy of it yet they do it anyway. I agree, this is what love is – both human and animal.

  14. Sunshine K says:

    NO kidding….I went into Lake Superior ONCE…came rocketing out within about .00001 seconds with BLUE LIPS.

  15. Geeze, and now I’m crying not only over the picture, but over the loss that will eventually occur when puppeh is called home. As so many have said, this, right here, is what love looks like. ‘scuse me now while I go bawl in a corner

  16. Yep. Just what I was going to ask. Have you ever dipped a toe in Lake Superior?

  17. musicfoodbeerbikes says:
  18. Is there somewhere we can donate directly to the dog’s owner, instead of buying the photo?

  19. Pure love. It’s sad to think how little time Schoep probably has left, but it’s wonderful to think of all the years he’s had with someone who obviously loves him deeply.

  20. ive read this story on a few different sites now and i cant keep myself from crying every time.

  21. Such a heart warming and heart breaking story at the same time.

    …..passes tissues around to all……

  22. Cambridge Rat Mom says:

    Sweetness all around. Thank you for caring so much for your animal companion.

  23. Blueberry says:

    MEN OF CO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. Serious calendar material.

  25. phred's mom says:

    Yea, verily, quoth she.

  26. Oh no, my allergies are acting up all of a sudden.

    John is a good guy to do that for his old friend, and it’s obvious that Schoep trusts him completely. That’s just too much for me. It totally clarifies the concept of bittersweetness. Poor old Schoep; I hope the arthritis treatment is making a big difference for him.

    When I was a boy, my grandparents had a German Shepherd named Major. He was a big old country dog, and he loved it when my family came to visit. We’d play all day outside, roaming around the farm together, playing with the hose or whatever else. As he grew older, arthritis crept into his bones and he couldn’t play much anymore, so we’d sit around outside the house together. Eventually, the arthritis became rheumatic, and poor old Major couldn’t even get up anymore. This was back in the 80’s, so the treatment options available didn’t bring much relief. Eventually, my grandparents made an appointment to have him euthanized. The day before his appointment, he disappeared into the pines around the farm. His remains were never found. Schoep’s story reminds me of Major, and of the pain Major was in before he died. I hope Schoep’s treatment spares him that kind of suffering. It looks like he’s in good hands with John Unger.

  27. I will join you in the corner, Haifever 😥

  28. Why are you making me cry? Why are you sooo meann?

  29. Right? That has to be a misprint. Lake Superior is freezing.

  30. Most beautiful photo EVER. FACT.

  31. The story i first saw (which i can no longer find the link of, it even had a video) he said that the pup had saved his life bringing him back from the brink of suicide many years before. this is his way of repaying him. *so much love*

  32. Hm. Think that if you’re looking for warm water, Lake Superior ain’t it.

  33. y’all, I think they’re gonna talk about this on Good Morning America today (for CO-ers in the US, I mean)

  34. I live on Lake Superior and, yes, the water is usually VERY cold, but every once in a while you can find a shallow area where a really sunny day has warmed the spot up to, maybe, 70 degrees, tops. “Warm” is relative here.

  35. Completely agree!
    It is the most beautiful photo I have evar seen. So much bliss and love.

  36. janet2buns says:

    Oh, OK. I was just going to say Lake Superior is reeeeeeally cold. Maybe he means it’s in one of the bays.

  37. This guy should be the calender centerfold. If he isn’t married he soon will be after all the media coverage this is getting. Much love to him and his beautiful dog.

  38. noellesbootcutkittenpants says:

    Good dog, Schoep. Good dog. *sniffles*

  39. 19!!!! This story gives me hope, both for my older pup and humanity.

  40. If you can read about this amazing love story – and yes, it IS a love story! – and not get choked up, then you are simply not human. What a sweet man, and what an awesome doggie! The look on Schoep’s face says it all.

  41. Rick, what a bittersweet story. I wonder if Major wanted to spare your grandparents the pain of what had to happen? Maybe he didn’t want them to make that decision and he made it for them.

    My allergies are acting up, too.

  42. ditto. There should be a few more John Ungers in the world. Handsome too.

  43. If it makes you feel better, we made him cry too:

    Unger got a surprise when he took Schoep in for his latest appointment. As he walked in, his vet smiled at him. “What’s going on?” Unger asked. His vet said, “See all the stuff behind me?” Unger looked, and there were packages of glucosamine, treats and other treatments to help Schoep with joint pain.

    Unger cried as he said, “People from all over are doing this. I can’t believe it. So much has come in already in donations that I don’t have to worry about anything at the vet anymore.”


  44. I would love to have the Sarah McLachlan Angel song connected to this — because that doggie truly has found his Angel. It can stay with the humane society campaign, too, it’s just that this story is so much more hopeful.

  45. This is a wonderful picture. This is love exemplified.

  46. I’ve cried every time I’ve seen this picture… the Angel song would totally push me over the edge. I honestly don’t think I could handle that much emotion.

    I am in awe of the unconditional love, trust and devotion routinely expressed by our animals. If you ever want to know the definition of love, just take a look at that picture.

  47. Fird Birfle says:


  48. The original article I read quoted the photographer, who is Unger’s friend and she just said that being submerged in the water helped alleviates schoep’s pain due to the buoyancy and this allows him to fall asleep. She said this is how John’s puts Schoep to sleep every night. It’s just being the water, not WARM water specifically.

  49. MinglesMommy says:

    This is one of the most beautiful photos/stories I’ve ever seen. LOVE.

  50. Oh yes, let’s ruin another good song with tearful associations. I don’t even like Willie Nelson and now I cry at “Always on My Mind” because of those ASPCA commercials. Now I have to go hug my cat when that comes on and remember that I can’t sign over my paycheck to the Humane Society or cat rescue group.

    I blame this on the old Live-Aid video using the Cars Drive.


  51. I live in WI, and last winter was very mild (for WI) and this summer has been very hot (for WI) so it wouldn’t surprise me if the water is warmer than normal. But I did have to read it twice, there’s a line from a Gordon Lightfoot song that goes Lake “Superior sings in the rooms of her ice-water mansion.”

    As for buoyancy, walking in water takes some of the pressure off of your joints. That’s why underwater treadmills are popular for physical therapy (K9 and human). It’s also why seniors do water aerobics.I also imagine that floating is even more comfortable than a water bed. And some gentle waves probably rock him to sleep. I’m glad they have a dog-friendly beach to do this at.

  52. and horses do therapeutic spins in water, don’t they?

  53. There is no chance that there is water warm enough in Lake Superior to help arthritis. It’s the buoyancy that helps take the pressure off bones. None of the newspaper articles mention warmth either. HEY CO! Wanna remove the incongruous information?

  54. The article above shows the address and phone number where you can donate directly to the vet, which is where he needs the money.

    One other thing I wanted to mention is that the article above is a little misleading about the photograph. The photographer is a friend of John’s and asked her to take this photo thinking it might be the last one he would have of Schoep. Whenever I hear that phrase “a portion of the proceeds” I think of some of those bottom feeders who put that on whatever it is they are selling to draw you in, when the only intend to donate 1 or 2 percent. That is not the case here. Hannah, the photographer, and John will be splitting the proceeds 50/50. Perhaps that information should be included above?

  55. I never realized *sniff* I had allergies *sniff* this bad *sniff*

  56. (that is for both John and Rick BTW)

  57. John has proven that “what goes around…comes around”. The love he showered on Schoep all these years is being returned to him tenfold. I hope to read someday about the young pup he rescues next…when he’s ready to open his heart again.