Whatever happened to?: Famous dog Schoep keeps goingLaser treatments, supplements and cold weather add up to good times for Schoep, the geriatric Bayfield, Wis., dog made famous by a photographer’s July 30 picture.
By: John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
Laser treatments, supplements and cold weather add up to good times for Schoep, the geriatric Bayfield, Wis., dog made famous by a photographer’s July 30 picture.
“A month ago we did the blood work again, and everything is on the positive,” said Schoep’s perpetually upbeat owner, John Unger, in a recent interview.
Bayfield photographer Hannah Hudson’s image of Unger bathing Schoep in Lake Superior went viral and catapulted all three into fame that has only slightly diminished.
“I kind of missed the interviews when they stopped happening,” said Unger, who lives on one of Bayfield County’s numerous fruit farms.
“My voice mail doesn’t fill up every day now,” Hudson said. “But my phone still rings a lot, and it’s still crazy.”
Hudson has been flown to Seattle and to Columbus, Ohio, among other places, to take pictures of other people’s dogs, and she’ll be going to Florida in February on a similar assignment.
“I told the universe I wanted to take pictures of dogs for the rest of my life, and this is what happened,” Hudson said.
Perhaps the biggest impact has been on Schoep, an arthritic, 19-year-old shepherd mix who is blind and hard of hearing.
Unger, who worked as a caretaker on the farm, hadn’t been able to afford to pay to treat Schoep. But after Hudson’s photo became an Internet sensation, donations poured in. Schoep clearly is benefiting from laser treatments he’s receiving at Bay Area Animal Hospital in Ashland and the medications prescribed for him there, Unger said.
Schoep is able to pick up a back leg that used to drag, Unger said. The dog recently climbed the steps to Unger’s cottage on his own for the first time in recent memory, although because of Schoep’s blindness, Unger ordinarily still carries him.
Schoep also responds positively to cooler weather, Unger said.
“He’s always been a winter dog,” Unger said. “In the summer, he’s more lethargic. … In the winter, he is absolutely in his element.”
The photo continues to draw attention. The Schoep and John Facebook page gets thousands of “likes” every time Unger adds a new post. Yahoo included Schoep and Unger in “Inspiring and Astounding Moments,” part of its Year in Review, along with images such as those of Malala Yousufzai, the teenage Pakistani activist who was shot by the Taliban; and Felix Baumgartner, the skydiver who broke the sound barrier.
A second image of Schoep and Unger taken by Hudson, this time on dry land, has been included among the gifts available for purchase at the John and Schoep website. Proceeds from sales go, in part, to Schoep’s Legacy Foundation set up “to improve animal and human welfare.”
The foundation, still in its early stages, is helping area animal welfare organizations with projects, Hudson said. “We’re doing small, little projects to basically pay it forward,” she said.
The News Tribune revisits some of 2012’s ongoing stories during these final days of the year in its "Whatever happened to?" series.