Man Sends Tennis Balls to Strangers in Tribute to His Dog Best Friend

Chris Sontag-Ratti’s Instagram post in memory of his dog has nearly 8,000 likes.

ByABC News
January 21, 2016, 5:37 PM

— -- Man’s best friend is an understatement when it came to these two.

In remembrance of the 2-year anniversary of his dog’s death, one California man is making it his mission to promote “quality time” with your pet by sending tennis balls to any stranger who wants one.

“On Jan. 23 I'll mark 2 years without my best friend,” Chris Sontag-Ratti, of Hayward, California, wrote on his Instagram post, which has amassed nearly than 8,000 likes in just one day.

“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 was love at first sight when Sontag-Ratti first met his “Everything,” a Boxer and Rottweiler mix puppy, in 2002.

“My uncle's dog had puppies and I decided I wanted one,” he told ABC News of how the pair came together. “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.”

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They had a long, happy life together until Everything died in 2014 at the age of 12. His initial idea to honor his pup’s memory was to leave tennis balls at their favorite location on the beach, but he decided to post on Instagram instead due to recent bad weather.

“Some of our favorite things to do together was walking on the beach, down by the bay or ocean,” Sontag-Ratti explained. “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.”

His Instagram post, however, certainly has not gone ignored. He never expected the worldwide response he’s received.

“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. The response has been amazing and overwhelmingly positive. I'm blown away really.

“I am getting requests to send tennis balls all over the world,” he added. “I haven’t really made a list of where I’ll be shipping to but I have seen Australia and Ireland, Japan, I didn't expect this and will do my best to accommodate all requests for a ball.”

Although that is proving to be financially difficult, Sontag-Ratti says he doesn’t mind.

“I am an electrician apprentice so not a big money guy on the job,” he explained. “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.”

It will be a tough day for him on Jan. 23, but “this will help me get through it,” he said. “I would like to say thank you to everyone for the support and kind words. She was literally my Everything.”