When Jack McCrossan and his three mates moved to the English city of Bristol, they were pretty bummed to discover one thing: Their landlord wouldn't allow them to get a dog.
The guys had all grown up with dogs and missed the company of a four-legged friend.
So when they spotted a doggo looking at them from their neighbor's window one evening, they had an idea: write to their neighbor and offer their services as doggy caretakers.
"If you ever need someone to walk him/her, we will gladly do so," they wrote. "If you ever get bored (we know you never will, but we can dream) we are more than happy to look after him/her. If you want to come over and bring him/her to brighten our day, you are more than welcome. If you want to walk past our balcony windows so we can see him/her, please do."
Noting that they feared the letter might come across as a bit strong, they simply explained that they missed having a dog around. "The adult life is a struggle without one," they wrote, signing off as "the boys from number 23."
They probably didn't predict what would happen next.
They soon received a letter back addressed to "the boys" and stamped with a paw on the back.
"What a treat it was to receive your letter," began the note written on behalf of the dog, Stevie Ticks, by her human, Sarah Tolman. "I love meeting new people and it would be great if we can be friends. I must warn you that the price of my friendship is 5 x ball throws a day and belly scritches whenever I demand them."
The letter continued: "We here understand how hard it is to find pet friendly rentals — and life just isn't full without a dog in it — right?! I'd love to hang whenever you fancy."
McCrossan tweeted the whole exchange on Dec. 10, and it soon blew up.
People around the world were moved by the series of letters.
"Surprised is an understatement," McCrossan told BuzzFeed News of the viral response. "It's honestly felt very surreal seeing how popular the post has been and the thousands of positive responses from everyone!"
On Sunday, Dec. 15, the boys from number 23 finally got to meet little 2-year-old Stevie, who was adopted by Tolman and her partner, Chris, from a shelter in Cyprus.
"Meeting Stevie was great!" said McCrossan. "She was definitely as energetic as described. We got to take her for a walk and she wouldn't stop running!"
Tolman told BuzzFeed News that Stevie spent an hour with the boys for playtime at their house.
"We could hear her thundering around through the walls, and she obviously enjoyed herself, as when they dropped her back home she sat whining at the door and window for hours afterwards," she said.
They're now setting up a group chat so the boys can offer their dog walking services as needed.
Tolman said she felt compelled to write back to the boys because she was so touched they had made the effort to reach out to their neighbor.
"In a day and age where people don't really know or speak to their neighbors it was really nice for them to break down that barrier," she said.
She's now planning on inviting the boys around for dinner and beers so they can all hang with Stevie on her turf.
Stevie now has more than 13,000 followers on Instagram, but is apparently unfazed by her newfound celebrity status.
"We keep telling her how many people are following her and interested in her relationship with her new boyfriends, but she just keeps giving me her paw for treats," said Tolman. "We obviously know that Stevie is a very special hound, but we love that she has brought so much joy and love to so many people. I think everyone just needs a reminder every now and then that humanity is found in the small things."
Jordan Roth contributed reporting to this story.
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