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“Shep falls asleep every night when he is carried into the lake. The buoyancy of the water soothes his arthritic bones. Lake Superior is very warm right now, so the temp of the water is perfect. I was so happy I got to capture this moment for John. By the way, John rescued Shep as an 8 month old puppy, and he’s been by his side through many adventures,” she continued.
Stonehouse Hudson never imagined the tender moment she captured would eventually go viral and touch the hearts of hundreds of thousands.
“John lives for this dog, and for the dog’s comfort,” she told HuffPost. “My mother has a saying, ‘Everything is for the comfort and convenience of the Dog.’ John is a prime example of this.”
Stonehouse Hudson regularly photographs dogs as part of her profession. She offers pet sessions and often takes pictures of dogs at weddings. To give back, she does free shoots of hard-to-place animals for local shelters.
She said the photograph of Unger and Schoep is more than just a moment frozen in time; it’s an everlasting reminder.
“I want people to identify with this photo, and remember a time when they felt safe, loved, and cared for,” Stonehouse Hudson said. “Then I want them to channel those feelings and pay it forward! There is way too much negativity in this world – maybe with this one photo we can start to change things just a tiny bit.”
UPDATE: John Lundy of the Duluth News Tribune interviewed John Unger, who described how Schoep saved his life. After breaking up with his former fiancee, Unger had been having suicidal thoughts. “To be honest with you, I don’t think I’d be here if I didn’t have Schoep with me (that night),” Unger told Lundy. “He just snapped me out of it. I don’t know how to explain it. He just snapped me out of it. … I just want to do whatever I can for this dog because he basically saved my ass.” Minnesota Public Radio reports that the popularity of the photo has spurred an outpouring of support in the form of donations to help pay for laser treatment for Schoep’s arthritis.