Saturday, August 3, 2013

Shoep has  passed over the rainbow bridge..

Details below-- but first--
The original story of John Unger and Shoep, an abused pup rescued:  (Shoep's facebook page and pics HERE)

A single, beautiful photograph of a man cradling his dog in Lake Superior to help ease the pup's arthritis has pulled at the heartstrings of all those who have seen it, and now has the real story behind the heart-breaking image that went viral.
I am so surprised at the reaction of all of this," John Unger of Bayfield, Wisconsin told in an exclusive interview in response to the outpouring of support for him and his loyal canine companion.

The 49-year-old farm caretaker adopted his dog, Schoep, when he was just a puppy, but after a staggering 19 years together, the aging shepherd mix is suffering from arthritis and has trouble sleeping, so the inseparable pair head to nearby Lake Superior so he can be lulled to sleep by the water.

"I knew the water relieved the pain, but didn’t know to what extent it was helping at first. It takes all the pressure off the joints and he is just floating there and doesn’t have any body weight," explained Unger.

"He immediately just zones out and is asleep as soon as he puts his head against my chest. I hold him with my right arm and then I will splash water on him and massage his joints – his feet, his shoulders, and his hips if I can. I have had him out there for over an hour but it is usually about 20 minutes."

The extra mile that Unger goes to for Schoep may surprise some people, but the devoted dog owner told Radar that he owes his life to the pup who brought him back from the brink when he had dark thoughts of suicide.

"After a break-up with my then fiancee, I was going through a really bad time. I went down to the break water in Milwaukee at the marina, which is made of up of big boulders," he confessed. "I was thinking of ending my life, I had Schoep with me and we were down there quite a while. I decided it was time to do this, I was going to head dive into the rocks."

But one last look at his adopted pet made John rethink his fatal plan.

"When I was really at that moment to jump, he looked up at me with a look I’ve not seen since or before," explained Unger. "It was a look of concern, his eyes were squinted and his brow was scrunched, like a human does when they try to think really hard. It was quite amazing.

"It snapped me back to realty and made me think, 'I shouldn’t be doing this... Who was going to care for this dog if I do this?’

"I had just rescued him a year before and I was not going to abandon him again by killing myself. He snapped me out of the frame of mind I was in."

The brush with death brought John and Schoep even closer together than before. "Everything had new and more meaning for us in every day. I made the commitment when I rescued him that I was doing it for life and to take care of him and I'm sticking to it."

The now-iconic photo of the inseparable pair was taken by close friend and photographer Hannah Stonehouse Hudson, owner of Stonehouse Photography. "I wanted to give him something to remember Schoep by after he has gone," she explained to Radar, and she has been blown away by the response. "This is beyond anything that I imagined. I knew he had been taking him out to the lake and I was just going out as a friend as a favor."

Stonehouse Hudson said she believes the secret to the picture's universal appeal is its simplicity and the love that pours from it. "People can take whatever they needed from that photo and then and apply it their own lives," she explained. "It goes with any feeling of love, it’s not just about dogs, it's about a spouse someone has lost or a friend or a bad time they went through."

As for Schoep, "He is doing great! I think he feels really good. He is not sick and he is not dying, he is just an old dog and has arthritis," she said.

"He’s still really active, we do three walks a day and we swim as much as we can," Unger went on to say. "I take him to the berry farm and let him just be a dog when I can."

The pair is heading for their fourth laser treatment on Tuesday to ease the pain in the elderly shepherd's joints and donations have now been pouring in to help pay for his laser treatments to combat his arthritis. Prints can be bought at, and a portion of the proceeds will go towards vet bills.
story/photos source

Now, the 20 year old dog has left the planet...

On Thursday, the news that Schoep had died was posted on Facebook. "I Breathe But I Can't Catch My Breath... Schoep passed yesterday[,] more information in the days ahead."
story here

1 comment:

  1. a friend called Tuesday night; I had not heard much from her since her dog died in late June. right before my own Uncle died.
    My own grief over the lost of my dog has/had lingered for several years; confounding even my best of friends I am sure, but a search for a new dog to rescue had left me empty and finally indifferent to my grief.
    Little did I know that my friend who is great at rituals after the death of people and pets (we could all take a lesson in mental health from her methods!) has encountered by some fate or chance an animal in a online profile - she passed by it many times she said - but then she saw 'something' that was, in simple terms (for me) a sign - a sign from God IMO! and she went to visit this damaged, neglected animal.
    The story of her new friend she has had for a month now is one of many health issues that need a bit of love and care and vet visits to stabilize a loving dog that surely is in all sorts of pains; yet even from this great distance i see a meek and loving soul walking a path to comfort a dog that in many cases in parts of our country would be disposed of - much like a bunch of strays living in bushes by a parking lot, where a stupid man with power of his pizza joint will make these cats/kittens disappear into the countryside to live out their short lives.

    My friend reminds me of one person picking up the cross to carry a heavy soul of a dog that needed her, as much as she found - she needed him.
    now vet care costs a great deal more in the Manhattan/Wamego area than it should; so gladly the story of her dog and her tender care of him much like the story posted here will be the best she can provide even if it is a small tube of Orajel I suggested she use to take a bit of pain from his 2 teeth that have nerve exposure.

    She like the man above would cradle this new beast to insure he knows he has a home - one not of uncertainty but of peace and long lasting love and companionship. She reminds me of a phrase saying: 'The meek shall inherit the Earth" she truly IS that! (she might not agree with my word - meek - we all see our friends differently at times) but she IS walking the walk and another soul of a dog is given a new life.
    while my words and story make no sense to you all and the relation to the post above, I tried to share my inspiration I got here... and saw a bit my friend in this post above.

    like the kittens and cats that are a 'problem' for a pizza place in a rural KS town that may well end up dumped in the countryside and die an unloved life - saving a animal's life it appears to me ALWAYS COMES DOWN TO MONEY now days. whether its a dog in the Portland area, strays east of Manhattan, or my own cat that I can not afford to freeze off a tumor to save his life for a few years more with him..
    Money seems to trump humanity - it seems so great when people have some, and can choose to do loving things and find the reward is love greater than money can quantify.