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Carli Louise Johnson has said how her family have been devastated by the loss of their dog and as a gesture they thought it would be a good idea to leave tennis balls for others to play with

A family grieving the loss of their Collie have been placing boxes of tennis balls around parks where he liked to play in his memory.

Carli Louise Johnson, together with her husband Aaron and her mum, Julie and stepdad Daniel have created the boxes after being heartbroken by the loss of Ollie, who died last month, reports NorthantsLive.

The 11-year-old Collie, who was crossed with a Husky, died of cancer but his joy and zest for life until the very end inspired the family to do something positive for other canine friends.

Carli and Aaron, now 31, live in Burton Latimer having moved away from Carli’s parents’ home in Kettering some years ago, and the two households shared looking after the dog.

“We got him when he was a puppy, but when I moved out I couldn’t bear to part with him and neither could my mum, so we kind of shared him,” Carli said.

Carli, who works in a bank, and Aaron, who is a manager at a logistics company, loved looking after their “best friend”, who sadly became ill last month with cancer.

“Unfortunately, he got quite poorly, but you would never have known,” she said.

“He did get a bit slower, but he wasn’t in any pain and just wanted to play and go out all the time, even when he was unwell.”

It was mum Julie’s workplace at Screwfix that gave Carli the idea to leave out boxes of tennis balls for other dogs.

At the tills in her mum’s store, they have a box of tennis balls for the dogs of customers and staff to play with, and Carli thought they should do the same for Ollie.

“He just loved to play, especially with his ball,” Carli said.

“I saw the box at my mum’s work and we thought it would be a lovely thing to do in his memory, so we’ve put out some boxes in some of Ollie’s favourite places, and will put some more out too.”

The boxes are filled with balls for any passers-by to take and use to play with their own furry friends.

On each box, there is a photograph of Ollie and a label which reads: “Please take one and play, and remember to share your day. #playballwithol.”

One of the boxes is currently in the green space near Thruxton Close in Burton Latimer, right opposite Carli and Aaron’s house.

“I’ve already seen other dogs playing the Ollie’s tennis balls and it’s so lovely to see them out there, just like he would have been,” Carli said.

The other boxes are at Twywell Hills and Dales Nature Reserve and at the recreation ground in Kettering, and the couple have plans for more elsewhere in the county too.

“We decided to put the boxes in his favourite places, but we think we’ll probably add some more when we’re out and about,” Carli said.

Carli has shared the locations of the boxes on local Facebook groups and says the reaction has been amazing.

One of her posts has more than 500 likes and dozens of comments, thanking Carli and her family for such a “beautiful” way to remember her dog.

Local dog walkers have said that they will keep an eye out for the boxes so that their own pooches can enjoy a game of catch in Ollie’s honour.

“I have been amazed by the response from local people,” she said.

“Most of them aren’t even people we know, just strangers saying how lovely it is, or how much their dogs have enjoyed playing with the toys.

“Ollie was a one of a kind dog, if you ever met him, you would never forget him, and it’s great that his love for life and playing is living on.”