Schoep the dog, who found viral popularity last year thanks to a heartwarming photo of him and his owner swimming in Lake Superior, has passed away at the age of 20.
The shepherd mix sufferd from severe arthritis and hip problems, and found solace in frequent trips to Lake Superior for a therapeutic swim.
Schoep and his owner John Unger, went viral in the summer of 2012 after this photo (courtesy Hannah Hudson of Stonehouse Photography) hit the internet:
That led to the creation of a Facebook page, Schoep and John, that garnered over 200,000 likes. The page was a place for fans to see photos and updates about the dog, and connect with Unger.
But it didn't stop at Facebook likes. Fans started to send Schoep donations, and he eventually raised over $10,000 for a type of laser therapy that aimed to stimulate old cells and help to reduce pain and swelling.
Late Thursday, Unger posted an image of a paw print on the sand with the words "I breathe but I can't catch my breath" and the sad news that Schoep had died.
That post has received nearly 35,000 likes, 21,000 shares, and over 61,000 comments.
"I am so sorry for your loss, you were the best friend anyone could ask for...he is at peace and his pain is gone, hopefully that along with all your memories will be a comfort to you," says one commenter.
"John, I am holding back tears barely as we too have loved and lost such pure trust and companions with the ability to love so deeply. You and Schoep truly showed the world how the bond between human and animals should be. Thank you for that. We love you both, and wish we could comfort you in person. Xo," reads another.
Through this outpouring of Facebook support, it's clear that the story of Schoep and John touched many lives. RIP buddy.