Woman Makes Dummy Of Herself To Keep Anxious Dog Company While She's Away
"It has worked better than many other methods so far."
This is Sara — a sweet-natured rescue dog who, in recent years, has been battling separation anxiety.
When the pup's owner, Colleen, steps out even for just a short while, Sara sadly goes into a panic. But fortunately, Colleen thinks she may have finally found a fix.
Sara's discomfort being alone began later in life, manifesting itself in destructive and self-injuring behaviors. As soon as Colleen would step away from home, the poor dog would bark, pant, chew on furniture and pace endlessly throughout the house to find her.
On one occasion, Sara rubbed her nose raw on the door after Colleen had left.
Colleen was heartbroken to see Sara so anxious, and tried everything she could to put her at ease. Unfortunately, things like CBD oils, crate training, taking her on extra long walks, and getting prescriptions for Prozac, Clomicalm and tranquilizers from Sara's vet, all failed to adequately soothe her.
"It evolved into my having to be with her constantly, leaving her with someone else, or having to take her to doggie day care whenever I left," Colleen, who asked not to include her last name, told The Dodo.
But then Colleen's cousin gave her an idea — to make a dummy version of herself to hang out with Sara in her absence.
After the posable, life-size dummy arrived to Colleen's house, she was immediately skeptical about the plan.
"My Sara would not fall for such simple deception!” Colleen remembers thinking. But still, she thought it was worth a try on the off chance it would give her pup some relief.
Colleen then set about making her dummy counterpart (dubbed Dolly) as convincingly Colleen-like as she could.
With the addition of glasses and clothing, Dolly was really starting to come together.
To make Colleen's stuffed surrogate even more reassuring to Sara as a fill-in, she even put Dolly in her bed to acquire her scent.
Colleen then gradually began introducing Sara to Dolly. While she left for brief periods of time, Colleen started leaving her dummy counterpart "resting" around the house in places where Sara normally wouldn't expect to interact with her, like in the bathroom, fearing too close a look would reveal Dolly as an imposter. And it seemed to be working!
Just a passing glance of Dolly appeared to be enough to put Sara at ease while the real Colleen was away, even for a few hours at a time. Coming home, Colleen would find Sara sleeping peacefully on the couch, as if she'd been there the whole time.
But then, after coming home one day, Colleen found Sara like this:
"I found her curled up at Dolly’s feet!" Colleen said. "She had never slept on the floor of the bathroom until Dolly was there."
Sara, it seems, doesn't think Dolly is actually Colleen — but the company of a familiar presence is reassuring regardless. In light of that, Colleen still isn't planning any long getaways, but she's optimistic that her dog will continue to feel less anxious with the Dolly technique.
"It has worked better than many other methods so far," she said. "I'm hoping Sara and Dolly stay close."
No dummy could ever replace Colleen in her dog's mind, of course; the two of them still spend nearly all their time together, and nothing will change that.
But with a heart as big as Sara's, it's nice to know she now has another Colleen (of sorts) she can love when the real one's not around.