A US man photographed soothing his arthritic rescue dog by letting it sleep on his shoulder while floating in the water has revealed his pet saved him from committing suicide after a failed relationship.
John Unger, 49, adopted his pet dog Schoep with his ex-fiancé 19 years ago.
But when the relationship ended, Mr Unger said his companionship with Schoep gave him the courage to keep going.
“I don’t think I’d be here if I didn’t have Schoep with me,” he said.
“He just snapped me out of it… I just want to do whatever I can for this dog.”
Mr Unger began carrying Schoep into Lake Superior at night after he noticed it seemed to soothe his arthritis and that his pet would often fall asleep with relief during the swim.
Mr Unger’s friend Hannah Stonehouse Hudson, who is a professional photographer, managed to capture the tender moment between the pair in Wisconsin last week.
“What was going through my mind when Hannah was taking those pictures was that this may be the last time I’m going to be swimming with him,” he said.
When Schoep began limping last week, his owner took him to the vet to get some pain-relief medication.
But Mr Unger said if his dog wasn’t able to get up without pain, it would be time to put him down.
The photo of Mr Unger and Schoep has drawn the attention of thousands of people since being posted on Facebook last week.
And thanks to the generosity of strangers who have heard their story, thousands of dollars have since been donated to help with Schoep’s medical care.