Therapeutic Swims For Man And Best Friend

John swims everyday with his 19 year old dog Schoep to ease his dog arthritis. Photo Credit: Hannah Stonehouse Hudson/

(TOUCHING TALE) MINNESOTA — When professional photographer Hannah Stonehouse Hudson took a touching photo of her friend John and his dog Schoep, she had no idea of the effect it would have on thousands of people. John rescued Schoep when he was just an 8-month-old puppy, and now at the old age of 19 his bones ache with arthritis and he is almost blind. John takes Schoep out to Lake Superior to float and let the water take some pressure off his best friend’s aching joints. Read more on this touching tale below.  — Global Animal 
John swims everyday with his 19 year old dog Schoep to ease his dog arthritis. Photo Credit: Hannah Stonehouse Hudson/

Twin Cities Pioneer Press, Molly Guthrey

A photo may be worth 1,000 words, but professional photographer Hannah Stonehouse Hudson has learned it can also be worth 2.2 million views, 191,162 likes, 108,766 shares and 21,936 comments (and counting) on Facebook.

“My specialty is documenting relationships, whether it’s a wedding or a man and his dog,” says the Bayfield, Wis., photographer. “I have known my friend John and his dog, Schoep, for six years. I have seen Schoep age — he’s 19 now. John lives his life in a kind way. He rescued this dog as a puppy, they have gone everywhere together ever since. Schoep has arthritis now, and John finds that the water is therapeutic. He is the kind of person who wants his animals to be comfortable. I wanted to capture their relationship. I told John, ‘I really need to get photos of you and your dog.’

Last Tuesday, we met at the beach for the photo. While John swam with the dog, I got on the dock so I could be at eye level. It took five minutes.

“In the shot, the dog is completely relaxed, with his head on John’s shoulder, eyes closed, out cold. John’s eyes are closed, too. The water is calm. It’s completely serene.

“That night, I wrote on Facebook about the amazing photo session I had just had with a dog that is 19 years old and his human. It was just a preview of the photo, but people freaked out about it. I had no idea they’d get so excited!

“The next night, Wednesday, I was exhausted from shooting a wedding, but I knew I had to post that photo. I wrote: ‘This (is) 19-year-old (Schoep) being cradled in his father’s arms last night in Lake Superior. (Schoep) 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 Shoep as an 8 month old puppy, and he’s been by his side through many adventures :).’

Within minutes, there were 100 likes. The next morning, Thursday, there were 600 shares. It was crazy.

“On Thursday, I was shooting a wedding on Madeline Island. My friends were emailing me, asking me if I’d seen what was happening with the photo on Facebook. I said, ‘No, I’m working.’

By then, there were 5,000 shares. I literally broke down in tears.

“I am not a posed photo person. My photos are always in the moment, translating what I see in my heart and mind and showing it to others. I never thought that this many people would see the same thing.

“In this photo, people have said they see everything from pure love to hope for the world. They see peace, kindness, the relationship between man and dog. Two women, both whose husbands died from cancer, said they never thought they’d see love again, but this photo showed them love. People are leaving me messages, crying and opening up about dogs they’ve lost, spouses they’ve lost. Women are also asking me if John is single!

“I know this is not about me — it’s about a guy who loves his dog — but I am in complete awe that my photo has had such an impact.”

Prints can be purchased from the photographer, and part of the proceeds will go toward vet bills for Schoep.

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