After a dog started suffering severe separation anxiety every time his owner left, a creative solution helped him cope.
Shorty, a senior Pug, has been with Marc Peralta for the past 11 years, and absolutely adore his human.
“He’s happiest when he is in Marc’s arms,” says Marc’s wife, Kristen Peralta.
And while Shorty used to go with Marc everywhere when he was younger, now, at 15, it isn’t possible. Because of this, the dog suffers extreme separation anxiety.
“Shorty will cry and bark when Marc is away,” says Peralta. “I will try to comfort him and hold him, but he just wants Marc.”
Peralta initially tried to put Marc’s shirt on a pillow, hoping his scent would help the depressed dog. It worked for a little bit but then lost its appeal.
Her mother came up with a very creative idea to try and comfort Shorty: a fake Marc fittingly named Farc.
“[My mom] purchased a mannequin online from a Halloween store,” says Peralta. “When she told me about it, I thought she was crazy! But it was worth a try!”
When the mannequin arrived, Peralta got to work. She dressed it up to resemble Marc, including putting on one of his worn-in shirts and adding fake tattoos to its arms.
She then set Farc on the couch, put a blanket on his lap and set Shorty on him, wrapping the mannequin’s hands around the dog.
“Shorty sat for a few minutes and then nuzzled the shirt,” says Peralta. “He was asleep within 30 minutes and slept in the mannequin’s arms all night. I was amazed.”
Besides helping Shorty, Peralta, who runs Vintage Pet Rescue, a retirement home for senior dogs and hospice dogs, with Marc, says Farc provides comfort for some of the other dogs they care after.
“We have a puppy who is scared of everything. I thought he would be terrified and bark at the mannequin,” says Peralta. “He actually loved it! He ran up to it and started licking the face and chewing on the hands. He thinks it’s a real person and he’ll sleep on the lap!”
She added that sometimes Farc will have four or five dogs sleeping on or near him. “I think it really comforts them. It’s a person who never gets up from the couch!”
Asked about what Marc thinks of his replacement, Peralta said, “He’s a little hurt that Shorty could love a ‘brainless dummy,’ but he’s happy that it’s helping Shorty while he’s away.”
Besides helping Shorty and the crew at Vintage Pet Rescue, Peralta tells us others have reached out on social media, telling her they bought a mannequin for their dog after hearing the story.
“It’s helping their dogs as well!” she says. “I really think this would be a great idea for shelters to help with anxiety.”