Viral Photo: Man Floats Dog to Ease Arthritis Pain

Photo by Stonehouse Photography

A touching picture of a man floating in the water with his sleeping dog has gone viral. And the story behind the snapshot has melted hearts.

John Unger credits his 19-year-old dog Schoep with his saving his life -- and now he is doing everything in his power to make Schoep's twilight years as comfortable as possible. Schoep suffers from arthritis and hip dysplasia, which causes pain John eases through their lake sessions.

Understanding Dog Arthritis and Pain Management | Webvet

Hannah Stonehouse Hudson, who snapped the now-viral photo of the two, told the Huffington Post of their watery routine, "Shep falls asleep every night when he is carried into the lake. The buoyancy of the water soothes his arthritic bones. Lake Superior is very warm right now, so the temp of the water is perfect. I was so happy I got to capture this moment for John. By the way, John rescued Shep as an 8 month old puppy, and he's been by his side through many adventures."

Not all of those adventures were good ones. Unger told the Duluth News Tribune that after splitting from his fiance several years ago, he began having suicidal thoughts. "To be honest with you, I don't think I'd be here if I didn't have Schoep with me (that night). 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."

Schoep asked Hannah to take their picture so that he could capture their friendship for himself, but it's already done so much more. In addition to the outpouring of love that's come from 2 million-plus views, Minnesota Public Radio reported that its popularity has sparked a wave of donations to help pay for laser treatment for Schoep's arthritis.

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