For so many dogs, the best thing in the world is a tennis ball. This simple classic is a favorite toy of pets everywhere, perfect for playing catch with their owners or just chewing.
Dogs go through many tennis balls in their lifetimes — but when one dog started getting a little too old for playtime, his family decided to pass them on so another pet would have something to play with.
According to The Dodo, the heartwarming gesture was discovered by Kayley Drewitt, a dog walker who runs Animal Ark Pet Services.While walking one of her clients through Ely Country Park, in England, Kayley came across a cardboard box with a message written on it.
Curious, Kaley — and her dog companion — investigated the box… and discovered that it was full of tennis balls.
The message on the box revealed the balls belonged to a cocker spaniel named Jarvis, who was now too old to use them, and wanted to pay it forward to another dog.
“I am too old to play with my favourite tennis balls now,” the message reads. “But it would make me very happy to know that some younger doggies would have fun with them.”
“I thought it was an incredible gesture,” Kayley told The Dodo. “Something really heartwarming.”
She also said that she was later able to get in touch with Jarvis’ owner, and found out that the 11-year-old dog had arthritis, making it difficult to play.
So, his owners decided to pay it forward, donating his old playthings to any dog who wants them.
The heartwarming gesture made at least one dog’s day: Kayley said the dog she was walking was eager to grab a ball from the box, and the two played fetch in the park. A photo posted by Kayley on Instagram shows the dog having the time of his life:
Kayley shared the story on Instagram, moved and hoping that more people would be inspired to do the same.
“What a wonderfully bitter/sweet gesture,” she wrote. Thank you Jarvis, you kind dog. I hope you have a wonderful retirement from ball games and rest up. You provided me and this pup a wonderful second half to our walk full of fetch and play.”
Other tennis ball giveaways like this have gone viral, though they are usually in honor of a pet who has passed away.
Last month, a tennis ball stand was set up at a beach in Newport, Rhode Island in honor of Piper, a pet dog who loved playing fetch at the beach before she passed away. Piper’s owner paid tribute to her memory by making sure other dogs had something to play with.