It’s a tired cliché that announces, “One picture is worth 1,000 words.”
We hate to borrow clichés, because they lack meaning.
Listeners lose interest.
But what happens when a photo can define one word? And, in this case, it appears, that nearly everyone who views this photo experiences a similar emotion …
That’s what happened in August 2012, when photographer Hannah Stonehouse Hudson posted images from a photo shoot with John Unger and his precious pup, Schoep. John and Schoep would wade in Lake Superior to ease arthritis’ grip on Schoep’s bones. On top of his daily aches, the pain kept Schoep awake and restless at night; the buoyancy of floating in the water in Unger’s arms let him rest, and eventually sleep.
Unger told the Pioneer Press that he asked Stonehouse Hudson to photograph the pair wading because he feared they didn’t have many more days together. She posted an image on her Facebook photography page August 1. The image quickly went viral.
On August 5, 2012, the Official Fan Page of Schoep and John debuted on Facebook, with nearly 300,000 “likes” to date. Facebook deems the pair a “public figure.”
But nearly one year later, on July 18, 2013, John writes,
“I Breathe But I Can’t Catch My Breath… Schoep passed yesterday. More information in the days ahead.”
He posted an image of Schoep’s paw in the sand.
They had just returned to “the lake where it all began,” John wrote in a post a couple days earlier.
In between these 11 months, people around the world enjoyed glimpses of Schoep and John’s world, courtesy of John’s images and narration of their daily walks and floats and navigating the world together. He described the weather, how Schoep was feeling and posted lovely photos of Schoep curious after a turtle, checking out his favorite rock, sniffing the beach. And we all loved it, from Portugal to Japan to Australia to South Dakota. Nearly every image has 30,000 “likes.”
We saw Schoep celebrate his 20th birthday on June 15th, handsome in hit hat, enjoying a little birthday cake and a special dinner of fish and rice. Quite possibly, Unger caught and prepared Lake Superior whitefish for our fav pup.
The media attention including CNN, a Webcam visit on DoctorsTV, helped Unger care for Schoep. Readers sent in more than $25,000 in donations, treats, bed offers, and more to help pay for Schoep’s laser treatment, medication, and more.
“As best as I can guess, the treatments have turned back the clock on his life about a year-and-a-half to two years,” Unger told TODAY.com in September 2012. “I’ve taken him for walks on trails that we haven’t been on in three years. He’s not dragging his back legs like he was before. To be able to do that again with him, words can’t even describe the feeling.”
To honor the outpouring of support they received, Unger launched the Schoep Legacy Foundation for other struggling pet owners. “It’s our turn to give back,” Unger told Yahoo! News.
On the fan page, Stonehouse Hudson writes:
“The fact that I have taken a photo that has made this many people remember and feel love is more than I could ever, possibly hope for. Use it, channel it, pay it forward. Do good things.”
♥ Hannah Stonehouse Hudson
Unger adopted Schoep when he was just 8 months old, according to the Duluth News Tribune. A survivor of abuse, the pup took his time to trust Unger. But the two developed a bond so strong Unger credits Schoep with easing his deep depression following a hurtful breakup.
On Thursday, July 18, after Unger posted the news of Schoep’s passing on Facebook, immediately, 10,000 “likes” were visible, with comments of support and empathy offered to Unger and “RIP Schoep.” And yes, more media coverage for the pair.
“The best history Of friendship and love … Condolences from Spain. Be sure he will wait you in heaven.”
“I so miss that sweet boy. Know that there are many of us grieving with you John.”
“Oh my god John, i am so sorry and i know there are no words that will help ease your pain right now but just know that i’ll be thinking and praying for you.”
“With love from Italy.”
“It’s amazing what you and Schoep had done!! We will love you both forever !”
And it is on DoctorsTV that we find the one word – not 1,000 – that describes what touches us in Hannah Stonehouse Hudson’s magnificent photo: LOVE.
Hannah Stonehouse Hudson, Unger writes, “took the world by storm in a puppy heartbeat . . .”
And what makes a puppy’s heart beat?