Schoep the Dog Death Announced on Facebook Photo; Thousands Pay Tribute (VIDEO)

Schoep the dog has died aged 20. The dog became famous after photos of his owner playing with him in Lake Superior last year went viral on the Internet.

(Photo: Facebook/Schoep the Dog)Schoep the dog's death was announced with this photo on Facebook.

Schoep, who was a shepherd mix, suffered from severe arthritis and hip problems, and his owner took him regularly to Lake Superior to help give him therapeutic swimming exercises.

A photo of owner John Unger and the dog went viral last summer, which melted the hearts of animals lovers across the globe, and brought Schoep many well-wishers.

In the aftermath of the viral photo a Facebook page was created for the owner and the dog, which gathered more than 200,000 Likes. The page was updated with photos and news about the dog and his owner.

The story of Schoep was so moving that many fans started even sending in donations to help with the treatment he needed. Eventually more than $10,000 was raised for a type of laser therapy, which would stimulate old cells and help to reduce pain and swelling.

However, on 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 owner announced the news that the dog had died.

The post announcing the death received more than 35,000 Likes, as well as 21,000 Shares, and more than 60,000 Comments from well-wishers.

One comment states: "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."

Another read: "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."

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