Many remember John Unger and his dog Schoep. The almost 20-year-old German Shepherd mix was so arthritic that it hurt him to walk. John took Schoep to Lake Superior, so the dog could get some rest. The photo that was snapped of the pair went ’round the world. There was even talk of nominating him for Man of the Year. Money poured in for extra veterinary care, something John could not have afforded before the viral photo. And then, sadly, Schoep was taken from John on July 18, 2013. On that day, John posted on his Facebook page, “I Breathe But I Can’t Catch My Breath…Schoep passed yesterday.” Many dog-lovers who never met Schoep grieved with him over the loss of his best friend.
Reportedly, when John and Schoep first met almost two decades ago, John was battling depression. He came upon the mixbreed in a local shelter. John said of Schoep, and of that time, “he saved me that night and I could only do my very best for him after that.” It was very tough for him after Schoep passed. He didn’t know what to do with his time. More than a year went by, with John missing his buddy every single day.
And just 48 hours ago, there was a new face on John’s Facebook page. a 1-year-old, 70 lb. Akita/Shep/Lab mix named Bear. John wrote, “The journey continues with the addition of Bear into my home, heart, soul and OUR lives! Great Days Ahead To All.” This is what happened. A few days ago, several dogs were surrendered to the Northwoods Humane Society in Hayward, Wisconson. John lives about 90 miles away from the shelter. But something brought him in that day, and he found his Bear among the dogs in that group. Without John, Bear might have been a victim of ‘black dog syndrome’ and not made it out of the shelter alive. In many, if not most, shelters and rescues, black dogs are the last to get chosen. There’s no logical reason why, it’s just a fact of rescue.
But against all odds, Bear and John have found each other. Shelter workers there report, “It was just unison, it was just you know–in love from the moment they said hello to each other.”
KARE reports that John put in about 30 adoption requests but he didn’t get any of those dogs because they were on a first-come, first-served basis and he was passed up multiple times. He looked at several other dogs before he found Bear. They’ve already had an adventure together. Yesterday, Bear got spooked by a car and ran off for about an hour. Though John looked all over, Bear was nowhere to be found. So John went home, and amazingly, though they’ve only been together a few days, there was Bear, sitting on his front porch.
John will never forget Schoep, and said, “I talk to him still, thank him for everything.” When one dog passes, another dog can be there to open your heart.
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