“On Jan. 23 I’ll mark two years without my best friend,” wrote Chris Sontag-Ratti, of Hayward, Calif., in a post last night on his @imso Instagram account.
The best friend he’s referring to was a 12-year-old Boxer/Rottweiler mix named Everything (is that a great name or what?), who he’d had since she was just a puppy.
To honor Everything’s memory on the second anniversary of her death, Sontag-Ratti purchased 100 tennis balls and is mailing them to everyone who requests one.
“I wanted to share her memory, but in a positive way — to encourage other people to bond with their dogs,” he told Mashable. “This was the best way I could think to do that. No matter what day, in my head there is always the equation of how many days I have been without her.”
Sontag-Ratti thought he would be stuck with a lot of tennis balls, but the response has been overwhelming.
“Wow, I am blown away by the requests for tennis balls,” he wrote later on the Instagram post. “Going to have to buy some more now.”
As of Monday afternoon, the Instagram post has more than 8,000 likes.
Sontag-Ratti adopted Everything in 2002. “My uncle’s dog had puppies and I decided I wanted one,” he told ABC News. “My uncle gave me first pick of the litter. Out of all the puppies, Everything was the standout. First to the food, first to greet me, she was such a sweet puppy.”
He said one of his and Everything’s favorite things to do during their 12 years together was to walk along the beaches in Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay. His original idea was to leave a box of tennis balls on the beach, but he later decided against it.
“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-Ratti told ABC News.
Other pet parents have had similar ideas, leaving boxes filled with tennis balls where beloved pups, like Phoebe and Aubrie, once played.
But sending tennis balls to strangers seems to be a novel (and generous) idea. Sontag-Ratti told ABC News he’s received requests from as far away as Australia, Ireland and Japan.
“I have a ton of emails in my box,” he said. “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. … I’m blown away, really.”
Sontag-Ratti promised he would “do his best” to fulfill all the requests, although it may be a bit financially straining for the electrician apprentice with a modest income. “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,” he told ABC News. (I have a feeling there might soon be a crowdfunding campaign to help Sontag-Ratti purchase more tennis balls and pay those international shipping costs.)
Not that he minds spending the money.
“I would spend my last dollar if it helped keep the memory of my Everything alive,” Sontag-Ratti said, adding that sending out all those tennis balls will help him get through the second anniversary of Everything’s death.
“I would like to say thank you to everyone for the support and kind words,” he told ABC News.
“She was literally my Everything.”
If you’d like a tennis ball, send an email to Sontag-Ratti at firstname.lastname@example.org.