A new relationship with animals, nature and each other.

Viral Photo Gives Birth to Healing Foundation


This photo of John Unger lulling his aging, arthritic dog, Schoep, to a comfortable snooze in Lake Superior has given birth to a foundation to help older dogs in need. [readon]

Over the last couple of months, people from as far away as Saudi Arabia and Japan have sent donations to the Schoep Legacy Foundation to help low-income families care for their aging dogs.

The photo was taken by Hannah Stonehouse Hudson, a professional photographer who is a friend of Unger’s.

Some of the donations are helping provide more therapy for Schoep; the rest of the $25,000 that’s come in “could help another 30 or 40 Schoeps,” according to the dog’s veterinarian, Dr. Erik Haukass.

schoep-2-092612“Without treatment, John and I were talking about euthanasia at the end of July,” Dr. Haukass said. Schoep won’t live forever. He’s already 19 years old, but Dr. Haukass says the dog now has at least several more good months ahead of him.

Unger adopted Schoep from a shelter where he was a homeless puppy showing signs of having been abused. “He didn’t even know what toys were. I really wanted this dog because I wanted him to enjoy life.”

The puppy soon returned the favor. On the night after he and his fiancée broke up, Unger said he was close to being suicidal.

“I don’t think I’d be here if I didn’t have Schoep with me,” he said. “He just snapped me out of it. I don’t know how to explain it. He just snapped me out of it. … I just want to do whatever I can for this dog because he basically saved my ass.”

Now, once again, in the autumn of his life, Schoep will be saving yet more lives.