MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- One of Minnesota's most beloved pets has passed away. Schoep gained national attention after a photo of him and his owner in Lake Superior went viral. He was 20 years old.
A message posted on the Schoep and John Facebook page said simply, "I breathe but I can't catch my breath ... Schoep passed yesterday, more information in the days ahead."
Schoep was a lovable shepherd mix, who lost his sight to cataracts and struggled with arthritis and hip problems.
We first met Schoep after a photo of him and his owner, John Unger, went viral last year. The two were captured floating in Lake Superior - a typical routine for a dog owner who wanted to find joint pain relief for his beloved four-legged friend.
MORE: See Original Story About Schoep and John Unger
Letters, support and thousands of dollars quickly poured in from around the world - all finding a connection with Schoep and his owner.
The more than $10,000 in donations had been used for a weekly laser therapy to stimulate old cells in Schoep's body. The cells then reproduced faster, reducing swelling and pain.
The treatments bought Schoep and John one more year together.
Nearly 130,000 people have followed Schoep's story on his Facebook page.