Three years ago, John Unger and his dog, Schoep, became an internet sensation after Hannah Stonehouse Hudson took a photo of their sweet moment at Lake Superior.
Schoep was a water lover but once arthritis settled into his joints it became difficult for the dog to swim, or even walk. John would hold Schoep on his chest in the water, sometimes for hours.
“He was my life,” John said. “He saved me that night and I could only do my very best for him after that.”
John and Schoep met twenty years ago. John was fighting depression when he found Schoep in a shelter.
Their love was the best until the very end. Schoep passed away a year and a half ago.
“It was really tough after Schoep left and didn’t know what to do with my time,” John said.
Several months later, the thought of moving on came and went. He thought of getting a new dog but it did not feel right.
“It was re-learning how to live and once I learned that and once I got through the toughness of his love that’s when I started searching again,” John said.
Someone else from ninety miles away was searching, too. A few days ago several dogs were taken in by the Northwoods Humane Society. And among those pooches, was one-year-old Labrador mix named Bear.
The man who inspired netizens last year finds love in the rescue dog.
Older dogs and black dogs like Bear usually have trouble finding new families, according to Kim Molitor, who works for the shelter.
It was not the case for Bear. Someone who would take him home was already at the front door.
“It was just unison. It was just you know, in love from the moment they said hello to each other,” Molitor said.
John and his Labrador mix budy, Bear, have been together for less than a week. They’re still getting to know each other but are already best buddies.
Moving on and starting over is never easy. But John learned from his first love that it’s a chance worth taking.
“I talk to him still. Thank him for everything,” John said.