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News & Insight

Viral Photo of Sick Dog Helps Pay for Treatment

By fotosiamo on August 10th 2012

Tender Moment Between Man and Dog by Hannah Stonehouse Hudson/
Tender Moment Between Man and Dog by Hannah Stonehouse Hudson/

When it comes down to it, what makes a photograph truly special is when it captures a great, unforgettable moment. Just take a look at this picture of Wisconsin resident John Unger and his sick dog Schoep floating in Lake Superior.

According to TwinCities Pioneer Press and Huffington Post, John has own Schoep since he was an 8-month old puppy. John, who was reeling from a break up with his fiancee at the time, credited Schoep from saving him from suicide. Nineteen years later, John is now the one taking care of Schoep, who has since developed arthritis and has sleeping complications.

The warm summer waters of Lake Superior provides the soothing, therapeutic comfort that Schoep needs, and as Schoep is carried in the waters, he gently falls asleep in his owner’s arms.

One of John’s friends, photographer Hannah Stonehouse Hudson, wanted to capture this special bond between John and Schoep, and was able to join them in one of their time together. It only took her 5 minutes to capture this moment.

“This photo was from a last minute session,” the Bayfield, Wis., photographer told The Huffington Post in an email. “We had been trying to get together for weeks, but it kept not happening because of my travel schedule for Stonehouse Photography. We finally got together last Tuesday (the 31st). I had about 5 minutes to shoot and this is what I caught — a man and his dog. John loving his Schoep, and Schoep trusting John so much he falls asleep in the buoyancy of the water. This is in no way posed. I hate posed photos. They never, ever capture the true essence of anything…

In this photo, people have said they see everything from pure love to hope for the world…

I know this is not about me — it’s about a guy who loves his dog — but I am in complete awe that my photo has had such an impact.”

Much to Hannah’s surprise, since she posted the photo on Facebook on August 1st, the photo has received over 2.2 million views, almost 300,000 likes, and about 170,000 shares and counting.

And that is the power of photography. It can affect our very core. It can change lives. It can inspire people and start a movement. That is what happened to John and Schoep. According to Minnesota MPR News, since the photo has gone viral, people has been pouring donations into a charity to pay for the surgery needed to treat Schoep. On Monday, an anonymous donor even paid for Schoep’s laser treatments at Bay Area Animal Hospital.

Simply amazing. The power of photography.

Thanks to Peta Pixel for picking up the story. You can help Schoep get treatment by purchasing the prints of John and Schoep. Part of the proceeds goes back to help pay for the bills for Schoep’s treatments.

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Joe is a fashion and commercial photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. He blends creativity and edge with a strong style of lighting and emotion in his photographs.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Ed Rhodes

    what a touching story!

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  2. Greg Henry

    In the last 2 1/2 years, all three of my dogs have passed due to complications with old age (13-15 years old for each dog, larger breeds). I know EXACTLY the impact that losing them can have on one’s life, and how it feels to have their unconditional love – and to lose that feeling once they pass. If I’m reading this correctly, his dog is nineteen (!), so he’s been so incredibly fortunate to have had him in his life for so long, and that the dog is still according to the vet, healthy enough to receive treatment. Here’s hope that Schoep continues to defy the odds and is able to be with his human for even more years to come.

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  3. Anonymous

    One of the hardest things for pet owners is knowing our own mortality exceeds that of our best friends. Beautiful capture, getting a bit choked up.

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