Schoep is dead. He was 20 which is a ripe old age for a canine.
But what this picture means to us is something much more. It has to do with a bond of friendship, giving, caring and humanity. The touching story of Schoep and his owner has been covered by HuffPo:
Schoep and his owner John Unger made headlines last summer when local photographer Hannah Stonehouse Hudson snapped a photo of Unger and his pup wading together in Lake Superior. Unger would regularly take Schoep into the water because it was therapeutic for his arthritic body.
The photo went viral online, and millions of people were touched by the relationship between man and dog. Readers sent in thousands of dollars in donations to help pay for Schoep's treatment.
I know the feeling of losing a dog -- mine after 14 years, and I feel it today, 18 months later. What my dog did and everyone else's does, is represent a bonding friendship, trust and unconditional love that we all want/need, but oftentimes overlook or take for granted.
Unger adopted Schoep when he was just an 8-month-old puppy, according to the Duluth News Tribune. He had been abused by his former owner, and it took time for the pup to trust Unger. The two finally developed a bond so strong that Unger credits Schoep with saving him from a deep depression following a bad breakup.
Last year, Stonehouse Hudson told The Huffington Post that Unger "lives for this dog." The photo of the two in Lake Superior should be a lasting reminder of their love.
So this sad story can become a good story, if we'll all just take a moment to appreciate whatever we have. Let's not look at what our neighbor, friend, brother or sister has, but what we have. And let's appreciate it, if only for a moment. What a testament it would be to Schoep who celebrated his 20th birthday on June 15
"I want people to identify with this photo, and remember a time when they felt safe, loved, and cared for," Stonehouse Hudson said at the time. "Then I want them to channel those feelings and pay it forward! There is way too much negativity in this world - maybe with this one photo we can start to change things just a tiny bit."