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A mannequin is helping dogs overcome separation anxiety

fake marc stops the dogs feeling lonely dog-wow
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A pair of dog owners have come up with an ingenious way to stop their pooch feeling lonely.

By Ashley Murphy , 1 Apr 2019

Shorty, a 15-year old rescue pooch, hates being left alone. In fact, the poor pooch suffers from separation anxiety.

And it's no wonder why. His owner Marc adopted Shorty over 10 years ago, and the pair have been pretty much inseparable ever since. Kristen, Marc's wife, told the Metro: ‘Marc was working at a shelter when Shorty was surrendered. It was love at first sight and Marc adopted him."

A lonely old dog

The couple began taking Shorty everywhere. However, now that Shorty is entering his old age, he’s much less active. Travelling can also be a stressful experience for an elderly dog. So the couple had to start leaving Shorty at home. But the little guy really missed his owners, especially his doggy-dad Marc.

"Now that he’s older it’s too difficult for him [to travel] and we don’t want him getting sick," said Kristen. "When Marc is gone Shorty is extremely anxious. He’ll bark and cry and nothing will calm him. If I hold him he’s still upset."

So the couple came up with an ingenious idea. They bought a life-size mannequin, dressed it in some of Marc's clothes, and named it FACR, which stands for fake Marc.

Shorty took to this surrogate Marc straight away; he now spends much of his time cuddling up to the stand-in before the real thing returns home.

A worthy stand-in

Marc and Kirsten run a retirement home for elderly dogs called the Vintage Pet Rescue. They currently have 32 guests,  and quite a few of them have taken a shine to FARC.

Fake Marc is now a regular sight around the retirement home, helping old dogs overcome feelings of anxiety and loneliness.

Dogs are highly social creatures that form exceptionally strong bonds with their owners. Any prolonged absences can lead to separation anxiety. Symptoms include whining, barking, nervousness, toilet “accidents”, and even destructive behaviour.


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