Video: Man floats with dog to ease its pain

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John Unger floats with his 19-year-old dog Schoep every day in Lake Superior.

John Unger floats with his 19-year-old dog Schoep every day in Lake Superior.

BAYFIELD, Wisc. — A touching story of a man floating in the water with his sleeping dog has gone viral.

John Unger credits his 19-year-old dog Schoep with his saving his life — and now he is doing everything he can to make Schoep’s twilight as comfortable as possible. Schoep suffers from arthritis and hip dysplasia, which causes pain that Unger is able to ease through their lake sessions.

Hannah Stonehouse Hudson, who took a photo of the pair that sparked the story, told the Huffington Post about the two’s routine that takes place every night in Lake Superior.

“Shep falls asleep every night when he is carried into the lake,” Hudson said. “The buoyancy of the water soothes his arthritic bones. Lake Superior is very warm right now, so the temperature of the water is perfect.”

Unger adopted Shep as an 8-month-old puppy, and said the two “have had many adventures.” That doesn’t mean they’ve all been bright.

Unger told the Duluth News Tribune that he began to have thoughts of suicide after he separated with his fiance several years ago.

“To be honest with you, I don’t think I’d be here if I didn’t have Schoep with me,” Unger said. “He just snapped me out of it. I don’t know how to explain it. I just want to do whatever I can for this dog because he saved me.”

In addition to the outpouring of love that’s come from the story, Minnesota Public Radio reported that its popularity has sparked a wave of donations to help pay for laser treatment for Schoep’s arthritis.