The stray dog who roamed the boatyards of Clewiston, Florida, probably thought he was living a life unexamined.
Sure, people who worked and visited the docks might spot him flitting among the boats, circling for scraps of whatever he could find. Occasionally, someone would even threw him a biscuit.
He could usually be found huddled under a particular model made by a company called Ranger Boats, which is how he came to be called Ranger.
But someone had been paying attention to the 86-pound pit bull — meticulous, painstaking attention — and that someone had formed an unlikely friendship with the dog, feeding him, playing with him, and observing him closely.
That person finally decided that life on the docks was no life at all for the dog, and he called Clewiston Animal Control.
Of course, Ranger wasn’t a typical animal surrender. The man who turned in Ranger had been chronicling the dog's habits, right down to his every personality quirk.
When animal control officers picked up Ranger at the boatyard, they were also handed an extensive, handwritten how-to manual covering even the most minute details on the dog’s care.
"Apparently, this gentleman had been taking care of him," says Kathy Irey, a school teacher who volunteers at the local shelter. "When he turned Ranger in, he wrote a nine-page book — eight-and-a-half-by-11 — on everything he knew about Ranger.
"We’ve never gotten anything like that. Most people just dump dogs. He obviously tried to figure the dog out where everyone else was just walking by."
The manual began with notes written in marker on the dog’s water jug: "Hi my name is Ranger. I’m friendly. I live in the boats. I’m lost or abandoned. Please keep this water bottle full and my water dish. Thank you and God bless."
From there, it extended to page after page, detailing the dog’s tendency to jump up to give toothy kisses and even that spot on his belly that he licks a lot (“Fleas maybe,” the author notes.)
The man notes Ranger was no longer sleeping at the boatyard. Someone — likely his guardian angel — let him into the condo lobby where he would sleep in the front area.
But it was time for Ranger to find more solid footing in life. He needed a home.
“The dog needs water, food, medical attention … and of course, love,” the letter adds.
The unlikely guardian's musings are lengthy but pointed — all focused on helping to find a happy destination for a single castaway dog.
Irey, who spends time at the shelter every day trying to find homes for its dogs, has been networking for this "big friendly baby." But so far, Ranger’s ship has yet to come in.