Unlike most Internet-famous dogs who find celebrity while still in the prime of their puppyhood, Schoep was 19 years old when he suddenly found himself swimming in Facebook likes.

A photo taken last August by professional photographer Hannah Stonehouse Hudson captured a touching moment between the German Shepherd mix and his owner John Unger as they swam together in Lake Superior.

The water, Stonehouse Hudson explained then, soothed the arthritic dog's pain and helped him sleep.

The photo was subsequently posted on Facebook where it gained over two million views in a matter of days, and encouraged Unger to launch the Schoep Legacy Foundation to help provide medical support to aging dogs of low-income families.

Sadly, just one year after warming the hearts of many around the world — and just one month after turning 20 — Schoep passed away.

Unger, who had raised Schoep since rescuing him almost two decades ago, confirmed the news on his Facebook page:

I Breathe But I Can't Catch My Breath...

Schoep passed yesterday

more information in the days ahead

In a powerful tribute to the lives Schoep and his namesake foundation have touched over the last 12 months, some 67,000 people have already expressed their condolences on Unger's post, with more being added with every refresh.

[photo via Facebook/by Hannah Stonehouse Hudson of StonehousePhoto]