Pet lovers the world over know the problems associated with separation anxiety, especially among dogs.
It’s often characterized by incessant barking and whining, chewed up pillows, loss of appetite and pining by the door waiting for an owner to return home.
Now an animal rescue center in Rhode Island has come up with a unique way of calming one elderly canine who is particularly attached to his master.
Shorty, 15, who Marc Peralta adopted when the pug was a few years old, cuddles up to an exact replica of him — a store mannequin complete with identical tattoos to Marc.
Marc’s wife, Kristen, made the man-size doll out of desperation because Shorty, who is too old to travel, would be inconsolable when her husband left the house for work.
“In the past, I tried putting one of Marc’s shirts on his pillow, but it didn’t really work,” Kristen told People.com.
Then her mom had the smart idea of ordering a dummy from a Halloween store that they dressed in Marc’s hat and clothing. They even added fake tattoo sleeves to the mannequin so Shorty would be all the more fooled.
Now the life-sized doll — known as Farc, short for “Fake Marc” — is Shorty’s favorite nuzzling companion. His separation anxiety is cured.
Kristen, who co-founded the shelter Vintage Pet Rescue, described the duo’s first meeting when she placed Farc on the couch.
“Shorty’s reaction was truly amazing,” she said. “He had been crying and barking all day. I put him on Farc’s lap and wrapped the arms around him.
“He snuggled into the shirt and was asleep within a half-hour. He slept like that through the night. I was amazed. I really could not believe that it had worked.”
Some of the other 33 senior dogs at the couple’s shelter are also drawn to Farc’s reassuring presence. Kirsten hopes other pet rescue centers might follow the lead and create their own mannequins to soothe their charges.
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