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Memory Of Beloved Dog Is Bouncing Adoption Awareness Much Further Than Expected

Ever since Chris Sontag-Ratty first picked his precocious puppy dog out of a litter in 2002, she was everything to him. And when his Everything passed in 2014, she left a large hole only the companionship of a canine could fill.

Sontag-Ratty took some time to mourn his best friend, and devised a plan that would memorialize her properly. Two years after Everything’s death, he bought a lot of tennis balls and intended to leave them at their favorite beach spot.

“Some of our favorite things to do together was walking on the beach, down by the bay or ocean,” the Hayward, California, man told ABC News. “I was going to go to our favorite beach just north of Pigeon Point lighthouse and leave some balls with a note but it has been very rainy here in California recently and the balls and note would have gotten wet, or maybe even not be found due to people avoiding the beach on rainy days.”

Sontag-Ratty still had the tennis balls, however, and went to Instagram with another idea. He offered to send a ball to anyone in the world willing to respond by email or personal message, covering all shipping costs. There was just one request.

On Jan 23 I’ll mark 2 years without my best friend. I purchased 100 tennis balls last week. I plan on sending them to anyone who wants one. I hope that all the people who get a ball from me will use it to spend some quality time with their best friend. If you would like a ball please email me your name and address and I will send you one. Direct message on IG works too. If you know someone who might like a ball feel free to tag them. I cover all costs… My email is chubbywater@gmail.com The artwork on the flyer was put together kindly by @steezjuice.. Edit: wow, i am blown away by the requests for tennis balls. Going to have to buy some more now. Thank you to everyone who requested a ball. Ill do my best to make sure everybody gets one. Thank you all. #tennisballsforeverything #dogsofinstagram #dogs #bestfriend #inlovingmemory #Rottweiler #boxer #bulldog #goldenretriever #frenchbulldog #puppy #Doberman #chihuahua #tennis #love #remember #dog #woof

A photo posted by Futuristic Mega Monstrosity (@imso) on

“On Jan. 23 I’ll mark 2 years without my best friend,” Sontag-Ratty posted. “I purchased 100 tennis balls last week. I plan on sending them to anyone who wants one. I hope that all the people who get a ball from me will use it to spend some quality time with their best friend.”

It didn’t take long for the image, and the story of Everything, to go viral. Sontag-Ratty may not have expected such a tremendous outpouring of support, but has since been pleased with how many requests he’s received.

“I have a ton of emails in my box,” he told ABC. “Yesterday I was thinking I wasn’t going to be able to get rid of all the balls I purchased. Today I’m trying to figure out how I can afford to buy some more. The response has been amazing and overwhelmingly positive. I’m blown away really.”

Sontag-Ratty lives in California, and has been sending tennis balls all over the world: across the U.S., Europe, Asia and even Australia. As an electrician’s apprentice, the man admits he doesn’t make a lot of money and that covering mailing costs has been a stretch, but it’s all a labor of love.

“I didn’t expect this and will do my best to accommodate all requests for a ball,” Sontag-Ratty said. “I was planning on spending my entire paycheck this week on shipping but looks like I’ll have to use next week’s check too. I don’t mind one bit either. I would spend my last dollar if it helped keep the memory of my Everything alive.”

As Sontag-Ratty’s campaign continues, Dan’s Dog Walking and Pet Sitting in Port Washington, New York, has joined the cause, raising even more awareness of adopting rescue animals. Dan’s Dog Walking collected a few tennis balls of their own, and along with a swimming pool and two Golden Retrievers, created some memorable moments Everything likely would have loved in the video below.

“We were inspired by a wonderful man named Chris who’s Instagram post went viral after he offered to send a tennis ball to everyone who commented on his picture of his late dog Everything,” Dan’s posted to YouTube. “It was his goal to help others create lasting memories with their pups. We wanted to help honor Everything’s memory by continuing his effort in this video. We figured for a dog in a shelter being adopted was as awesome as being able to jump into a pool full of tennis balls so that’s exactly what we did!”

Dan’s is hoping that their video will prompt viewers to donate to their local shelters, and send a bag of tennis balls to any rescue organization tagged in their Facebook post, which has already made more than 200,000 impressions.

The Animal Rescue Site wishes the best to Sontag-Ratty as he continues his campaign to memorialize Everything. Follow the button below to find a big league pup who fetches for a career!

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Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee. Find more about Matthew on his personal website.