John and Schoep

trust in humanity restored

The story behind the photo is connecting with millions around the world.

Pet ownership comes with a certain routine. From the daily walks, to feeding – it’s a routine John Unger took on when he adopted his dog, Schoep. “He’s my daily life,” said Unger. But Time is taking its toll. The shepherd mix has lost his sight to cataracts. Age also brought arthritis and hip problems. It’s a pain and stiffness that offers little relief, until John heads a mile from home. In the shallow water of Lake Superior, owner and pet find a temporary peace.

The water creates buoyancy, taking the weight off his tired joints. “I know it’s just taking the pain away completely,” said Unger. In John’s arms, there’s no urge to swim, but only to sleep – offering a few moments of serenity from sore limbs. John heads to the lake as often as possible. “That’s when I’m bothered, when I can’t take him to the lake, because I know he enjoys it so much,” said Unger.

But after the image exploded on the internet, so too did the support. Enough donations flowed in for Unger to pay for extensive and more effective therapy.
Seizing on Schoep’s newfound fame, Unger established the Schoep Legacy Foundation for owners struggling to pay for pet care.