When you’ve reached your golden years, all you want is to cuddle up with your favorite person and feel safe and loved. As it turns out, this fact is true for both humans and dogs.
For the past 15 years, a pug named Shorty has been utterly devoted to his human dad Marc Peralta. When Shorty was younger he went everywhere Marc went, sniffing out new adventures with his best friend and becoming a devoted member of the family.
“The relationship between Marc and Shorty is very special,” Marc’s wife Kristen Peralta explained. “Marc is Shorty’s person. He just adores him and is the happiest when he is in Marc’s arms. When he was younger, Shorty would travel with Marc everywhere, but it’s not possible now with his age. Marc calls Shorty his ‘angel’ dog. Shorty really taught Marc how to love and care for another living thing.”
Marc and Kristen run an animal shelter in Rhode Island called Vintage Pet Rescue. The nonprofit provides a loving hospice environment for senior dogs and cats who find themselves homeless at the end of their lives. As Marc’s own dog became a senior citizen, he knew they had to find a way to ease the dog’s separation anxiety when Marc traveled for work.
“Unfortunately, Marc has to travel a good amount for work and Shorty gets very anxious when he is away,” said Kristen. “Shorty will bark and cry and nothing will calm him down. He won’t even calm down if I am holding him. In the past, I tried putting one of Marc’s shirts on a pillow, but it didn’t really work. I felt so helpless trying to calm him down when Marc was away.”
That’s when Kristen’s mother came up with an unorthodox but brilliant idea. While she was visiting one day she observed how upset Shorty was in Marc’s absence, so she promptly went to the Halloween store and ordered a life-size mannequin. Kristen admits that she thought her mom “was nuts,” but decided to give it a shot anyway.
The two women dressed the mannequin in Marc’s worn shirt and hat so that it would carry his scent. They also added fake tattoo sleeves to mimic Marc’s real arm tattoos. They set up “Farc,” which is short for “Fake-Marc,” plopped him on the couch and sat back to see what happened.
Incredibly, Shorty was more than happy to settle for Farc!
“Shorty’s reaction was truly incredible. 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 he was asleep within a half hour. He slept like that through the night. I was amazed. I really could not believe that it worked!”
Shorty wasn’t the only member of the senior dog pack who was quick to buddy up to Farc, though. Soon the mannequin became a mecca for other dogs who were looking for a nice, stable cuddling companion!
The shelter began posting pictures of Farc with his friends on their social media pages, and before long the pics had gone viral. Kristen says many people have been sending her messages about trying a mannequin with their own dogs who suffer from separation anxiety.
Farc is getting a little too comfortable here…
“Since posting Farc on social media I’ve had a few people reach out to me to tell me that they also bought a mannequin for their dog that has separation anxiety. I really think this might be a great thing for shelters!” Kristen explained.
While the real Marc was a little put off about fooling his furry friends with “a brainless dummy,” he quickly got over those feelings when he saw how happy Shorty and the other dogs are with Farc. After all, it’s a simple but effective way to comfort our elderly animals so what’s the harm?
This is just too sweet and pure for this world, and if the mannequin trick helps just one more dog with anxiety they’ve already achieved their mission to help animals — and then some!
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