Remember This Viral Photo? You Helped Save This 19-Year-Old Arthritic Dog’s Life

John and Schoep viral photo

Who says that the internet can’t make real, positive change happen? The familiar photo above, picturing a man wading into lake superior with his arthritic 19-year-old dog to ease his beloved pet’s pain, went crazy viral in August, and all of the attention has helped that same dog recover.

The photograph, which captured the hearts of millions after going viral, inspired the dog’s owner to launch a foundation to help low-income families care for their aging canines. John Unger, the dog’s owner, was considering putting his poor pooch down before the photo was put on Facebook by a friend. But since launching Schoep’s Legacy Foundation, named for the dog in the photo, Unger says that he has raised more than $25,000 to his cause.

“Schoep is doing incredible right now,” 49-year-old Unger said of his pup. ‘The therapies that the people have donated–it’s like turning back the clock a year and a half.”

Schoep’s vet, Erik Haukass, told the Daily Mail that he foundation was created when the pair “realized we had received more money than we would reasonably spend on Schoep’s care.”

“It could help another 30 or 40 Schoeps,” Haukass said.

Facebook’s Official Fan Page of Schoep and John has more than 20,000 “likes,” and the original photographer is selling prints of the viral photo to contribute to the cause.

“This 19-year-old [Schoep is] being cradled in his father’s arms last night in Lake Superior,” Hannah Stonehouse Hudson, the photographer, wrote in the Facebook post that inspired the deluge of support. “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 temperature of the water is perfect. I was so happy I got to capture this moment for John. By the way, John rescued Schoep as an 8-month-old puppy, and he’s been by his side through many adventures.”

Business for Hudson has benefited from the photo as well. A professional photographer, she told the Twin Cities that she has hired her first employee and an intern since the photo went viral. “I would say a 30 percent increase in shoots,” she said, continuing, “Who knew a favor to a friend would turn into this? It’s completely surreal.”

Because of the attention and the generosity of Schoep’s donors, the expensive laser treatments to reduce pain and swelling have paid off. “He’s walking so much faster,” Unger said. “It’s unbelievable.”

So pat yourselves on the back, internet. You saved Schoep’s life. You guys really take that “4 GR8 JUSTICE” thing seriously, don’t you?