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A starving stray dog showed up on a man's farm. What came next went viral

As young pup Roman adjusts to his forever home, people are watching along.
Roman finding his way into Mark Farmer's family and life.
Roman finding his way into Mark Farmer's family and life.@markontheranch via TikTok
/ Source: TODAY

Mark Farmer gets up every day at 3 o'clock in the morning. He has his cup of coffee, then tends to the needs of his South Carolina farm, home to goats, horses, a chicken named Hennifer Lopez and more. He's been doing this for three summers.

One morning this year, Farmer had an uninvited guest: a stray and underfed dog. And when you already have two dogs and over 40 other animals, what's one more?

Farmer documented their first encounter on his @MarkOnTheRanch TikTok, posting the video on April 15. “Stray dog on the farm today,” the video reads.

In it, Farmer's dog Luna spots the stray first, approaching him. Farmer tries to coax the dog forward, whose bones were visible, with a bowl of food. "It took a minute," he wrote, but the dog ate and eventually followed him back to the house.

"He won the lottery he just doesn't know it yet," the caption reads.

Speaking to, Farmer explains the story behind the viral moment — as of May 13, the video has over 7 million views.

“I just so happened to be walking outside one morning — I just had a goat deliver babies — and I saw him outside of the goat pen sniffing around,” Farmer, a retired Marine firefighter, tells

Farmer has a six-year-old Doberman named Luna, professionally trained by Farmer’s husband who is a retired Air Force canine handler. “I think if there was a dog to be a role model for Roman, it’s Luna,” he says.

“Protector” Luna noticed the stray dog first, Farmer says. He assessed the situation based on Luna's reaction.

“She didn’t even go after him aggressively. She wasn’t barking, she immediately just started crying. So I knew there was a problem. He needed help. He wasn’t a threat," he says.

Farmer spent the day trying to let the stray know that he wasn’t a threat and their home was a safe environment. “I didn’t try to touch him or approach him in any way. It took like five or six hours, but he eventually came up on the porch and walked in the house. It was done after that,” he says. "I knew right away that if he let me I was going to help him. And he let me."

He decided to name the stray pup Roman. The name, he says, is “punny.”

Luna, Roman and Bruce Wayne, up front.
Luna, Roman and Bruce Wayne, up front.@markontheranch via TikTok

“The first reason I called him Roman is because I just found him roaming around on my farm,” he says. “But also, I’m a huge Nicki Minaj fan. So it’s a little reference to (Minaj’s alter ego) Roman Zolanski.”

Farmer, who has been sharing his life on his South Carolina farm on TikTok for years, saw people's interest in Roman's story. He goes live on TikTok about four times a week at 9 a.m. ET, giving updates on all his animals — including Roman.

Followers love seeing Roman open up, show his personality and join his new "pack." In addition to Luna, Farmer also has a miniature pinscher named Bruce Wayne. In videos, he happily wags his tail when he's woken up, and decides to join Farmer's two other dogs on the bed.

Followers watch Roman's physical transformation, now that he has a diet and medication plan to help put on weight and control his heartworms. Farmer does a weekly weigh in and posts the results.

Roman getting more comfortable in his new home.
Roman getting more comfortable in his new home.@markontheranch via TikTok

“We’re going to hopefully put about 20 pounds on him. The vet said an ideal healthy weight for him would be around 70 pounds, and he’s a little over 50 now so about 20 pounds to go," Farmer says.

Farmer and the vets believe Roman is a hound of some sort and about a year old. He will eventually want to get the newcomer DNA tested.

His origins are unclear — but his personality isn't. Farmer says he's a gentle dog. “He has done so well with all of my other animals. I have footage of him interacting with my baby goats, sniffing them through the fence and just acting totally fine,” he says.

The only animals left to meet are the chickens, but "he hasn't walked that far across the property yet."

Roman on a walk.
Roman on a walk.@markontheranch via TikTok

Roman has only interacted with a handful of people, Farmer says. “We live in the middle of nowhere. People don’t come here, so he doesn’t really have the opportunity to interact with other people. But the ones that he has interacted with, he’s just been so sweet,” he says.

Through this saga, Farmer is living out the intention of his TikTok. He created the account during the pandemic “so that other people could escape the craziness of the world” and live in his “paradise, even if it’s just for an hour a day.”

“For three years now, I just come on almost every day just sharing to make people’s day brighter. That’s all," he says.

Roman has definitely captured the hearts of thousands of followers — and Farmer will continue to share updates on the newest member of his family.

When asked what message he would like to share with his new and regular followers, he says: “Do something nice for somebody, even if that somebody is yourself, and then don’t tell somebody that you did.”