By Aliki Kraterou
An adorable pug has overcome his separation anxiety – after his owners dressed a DUMMY up in their own clothes to keep him company.
Kristen and Marc Peralta run a retirement home for elderly dogs in Rhode Island, USA, where they currently house 30 senior pooches.
But pug Shorty, 15, who has been Marc’s pet for more than 11 years, cries and barks inconsolably every time Marc, 40, leaves the house.
Luckily Kristen, 37, and mum Joanne McManus had the brainwave to put Marc’s t-shirt, trousers and even tattoos on a life-sized Halloween dummy – and ever since Shorty loves snuggling up with the mannequin.
Kristen said: “Marc and Shorty have a very special relationship – Marc is Shorty’s ‘person’.
“He’s happiest when he is in Marc’s arms – Marc calls him his ‘angel dog’.
“When he gets stressed, I will try to comfort him and hold him, but he just wants Marc.
“Last time Marc was away I put one of his shirts on a pillow, but that only worked to comfort Shorty for a little while.
“My mom had the idea after seeing how upset Shorty was when she came over one day.
“The next day she purchased the mannequin online from a Halloween store – when she told me about it, I thought she was crazy.
“When the mannequin arrived I added one of Marc’s already-worn shirts so it would have his scent.
“I also added tattoo sleeves that I had from an old Halloween costume -Marc has tattoos and I also added a hat.
“Once the mannequin was dressed, I sat him on the couch and put a blanket on his lap.
“Then I put Shorty on the lap and wrapped the arms around him. Shorty sat for a few minutes and then nuzzled the shirt.
“He was asleep within 30 minutes and slept in the mannequin’s arms all night – I was amazed.”
Kristen said it is not just Shorty who loves the new Marc, but all their dogs.
Marc works for Best Friends Animal Society, a rescue organisation and travels to different shelters around the country- so he spends a lot of time out of the house.
Kristen is very comfortable with the dummy in the house now and she even named him ‘Farc’ that stands for ‘fake Marc’.
And she believes her unothodox technique could help other dogs with their separation anxiety too.
Kristen added: “All the other dogs really love Farc too.
“Sometimes there will be four or five of them sleeping on him or near the feet, it’s adorable.
“Marc is a little hurt that Shorty could love a ‘brainless dummy’, but he’s happy it’s helping Shorty while he’s away.
“A few people have reached out to me on social media and told me that they have also tried a mannequin since they saw my post.
“It’s helping their dogs as well – I really think this would be a great idea for shelters to help with anxiety.”