“Shoep and John”: The inspiring story of the arthritic dog and his owner that will leave you speechless

The unconditional love of a dog is a powerful thing. The beautiful story of Schoep the dog and his owner John Unger is a good proof. Their story captivated the hearts of tens of thousands of people and became an internet sensation in 2013 when his friend Hannah Stonehouse Hudson snapped a beautiful photo of Schoep peacefully floating in Lake Superior in his owner’s arms.

Nearly twenty years ago before the photo was taken, John with his then-fiancée adopted Schoep -when he was still an eight months old puppy- as a rescue dog. In the beginning, it was hard for Schoep to trust John because it had been abused as a puppy by his previous owner. Nevertheless, John never gave up on his puppy. Sometimes he had stayed up with him many nights, coaxing him to trust him by sometimes getting on all fours. He said he wanted Schoep “to think of me as another dog and not a man trying to hurt him.”
John was battling a lifetime depression when he first met his dog, it even worsened after his break up with his fiancée. He said that he endured some tough years. On one particularly difficult night, he took Schoep down to Lake Michigan, their usual evening walking spot back in those days.


“I went out on the breakwater and I was thinking about committing suicide,” John said. “And I was out there for about an hour just thinking about things and it came to the point of me thinking, ‘OK, this is the time.’ And I looked down at Schoep and I don’t know what it was … he had a look like no other time he looked at me. I look back at it now and he knew something was wrong.”

It was that look from Schoep that saved John from taking his own life. “He saved me that night, and I could only do my very best for him after that.” The next day he thanked Schoep for saving his life.
Since that turning moment, John decided to take Schoep to everywhere he goes because he wanted him to experience everything. He periodically took him to Lake Superior and began floating him to teach him how to swim.

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