"Best friends for life: Heart-melting picture of man easing the pain of his dying arthritic dog 19-years after saving him as a puppy
The lengths that one Wisconsin man will go for his dog has left viewers in awe, saying his dedication to his four-legged pal shows the true meaning of friendship.
A photo originally posted on Facebook showing John Unger soothing his 19-year-old dog to sleep in a lake has spread their story far past the water’s edge.
Mr Unger’s good friend Hannah stonehouse Hudson, who is a professional photographer, captured the moment between the man and his aging rescue dog.
True love: John Unger, 49, lulls his 19-year-old dog Schroep to sleep because it helps ease the dog’s arthritis
Mr Unger adopted Schoep, who is named after a famous brand of Wisconsin ice cream, when he was just a puppy, and now that the dog has developed arthritis, he has trouble getting to sleep.
‘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,’ the photographer wrote on the Facebook post.
The story behind the special relationship behind this man, who works as a caretaker on a farm outside of Bayfield, and his dog is just as touching as the moment on the Lake.
Mr Unger, 49, told The Deluth News Tribune that he and his then-fiancee adopted Schroep when the pup was only eight months old and had been abused by its former owner. The couple worked hard to establish the trust of the dog and eventually brought out it’s ‘full potential’.
Though Mr Unger’s relationship with Schroep has clearly stood the test of time, the relationship with his fiancée did not, and when the woman moved to Colorado over a decade ago, he retained custody of the dog.
Capturing the moment: Hannah Stonehouse Hudson is friends with Mr Unger and spent hours capturing the perfect shot though she says it came naturally and was not posed
Lucky that he did, considering he told the paper that one night, while in the depths of depression in the wake of the breakup, Mr Unger contemplated suicide.
'To be honest with you, I don’t think I’d be here if I didn’t have Schroep 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,' he said.
Now that Schroep is in pain with his arthritis, it is Mr Unger’s time to return the favor.
'In this photo, people have said they see everything from pure love to hope for the world. They see peace, kindness, the relationship between man and dog,' Ms Stonehouse Hudson told The Pioneer Press.
'Two women, both whose husbands died from cancer, said they never thought they'd see love again, but this photo showed them love.
'People are leaving me messages, crying and opening up about dogs they've lost, spouses they've lost. Women are also asking me if John is single!'
The ladies are in luck because not only is Mr Unger single, but he is looking for a relationship.
He said that while he got his first computer in February and is still confused by the internet, he has begun to explore online dating.
'Boy, is it tough to meet women up here,' he told The Deluth News Tribune.
'So this might open up a new road.'