This photo of John Unger, of Bayfield, Wis., swimming in Lake Superior with his dog, Schoep, has been seen around the world. Photo by Hannah Stonehouse Hudson.
A SAD UPDATE from the Duluth News Tribune: Schoep, the Bayfield dog tenderly photographed with his owner, died Wednesday at age 20. Schoep and John Unger became Internet celebrities last year as the photograph of the pair in the waters of Lake Superior went viral. The news was announced Thursday on the Facebook page for Schoep and Unger. There was no immediate word on the circumstances of Schoep's death. The News Tribune also had reported that for his birthday last month, the shepherd mix received more than 1,000 cards wishing him well.
Original post: Anyone who has swum in the chilly water of Lake Superior knows that it could wake Rip Van Winkle. Maybe that's why a photo of a Bayfield, Wisc., man swimming with his dog, who appears to be asleep in the man's arms, has charmed so many people.
The photo shows John Unger and his 19-year-old shepherd mix, Schoep. And sure enough, cold water or not, Schoep appears to be asleep. Turns out, according to a story in the Duluth News Tribune, that Schoep, who suffers from arthritis, finds the buoyancy of the water so relaxing and therapeutic that it often lulls him to sleep.
The moment was captured on July 31 by wedding photographer Hannah Stonehouse Hudson. She posted it to her Facebook page, where it so far has been "liked" by more than 192,000 people. It has drawn more than 22,000 comments. A news story said it had been viewed more than 1.8 million times. And, says Julie McGarvie, of Penumbra Theater in St. Paul, who is married to Unger's brother, Stonehouse and Unger have received thousands of emails.
Unger and his ex-wife adopted Schoep as a puppy 18 years ago from an Ozaukee County human society. Adding poignancy to the story is that Unger recently took Schoep to the vet for various ailments. Unger told the Duluth paper he was uncertain how many more times he would be able to take his dog for a swim.