For my birthday this past May, my partner Gary gave me the sweetest gift: a miniature, stuffed version of my dog Ralph the Girl, absolutely perfect from her white-tipped tail to her different-colored eyes. I admit it, I cried. And then I took a picture and posted it to Instagram, where it immediately racked up dozens of “likes.”
When Gary tracked down a crafter to make my mini-Ralph, he had no idea how on-trend he was. Having a stuffed animal version of your beloved pet is the new wave in showing off your enthusiasm for pets, and with plenty of options to order your own online, there’s no excuse for not keeping up with the times. You don’t have a miniature stuffed version of your dog? It’s time to get on trend!
Whose idea was this, anyhow?
There are several places to get custom dog art online, but a company called Cuddle Clones is the forerunner for tailor-made stuffed animals, with a multi-month waiting list to get a plush pet delivered.
Cuddle Clones are the brainchild of Jennifer Graham, who first had the idea for them while cuddling with her real-life Great Dane, Rufus. According to the Cuddle Clones website, after Rufus passed away in 2009, Jennifer decided to devote her life to helping other pet people by creating the perfect replicas she had long dreamed about.
Cuddle Clones are an entrepreneurial success story, and have become wildly popular (and profitable). But it’s not all about the money. Cuddle Clones donate a portion of every plush replica sold to animal rescue groups, and as Graham noted in a survey for The Story Exchange, “We really are creating big smiles. As pet lovers ourselves, it makes us happy knowing that our customers are happy.”
Why you need a stuffed animal of your dog
Aside from the fact that they’re just plain adorable, here are a few specific reasons you might want a stuffed animal version of a real-life dog:
- You’re looking for a unique gift for a dog-loving friend
- You recently lost a beloved pet and are searching for a meaningful way to memorialize her, or you’d like to honor all the dogs you’ve loved before with a set of plush companions
- A loved one is heading off to college or the military and needs a cuddly friend to keep them company while they’re away from the family dog
- You’re curious about cloning, but not curious enough to pony up the tens of thousands of dollars it would cost to actually clone your pet! Plus, with a plush toy version, you don’t have to clean up after the “clone.”
And don’t get me started on the social media points you’ll score when you start sharing pictures of your real-life dog and her stuffie friend side-by-side.
The cost of a custom stuffed animal
A Cudddle Clone dog will cost you $249, and you can add a duplicate Cuddle Clone to your order for $199. Similar services online range somewhat in price (check out The Shelter Pups for $125 custom felted dogs made in the USA), but for a truly custom, high quality plush replica, you’re going to pay between $100-300. Okay, it’s not exactly a bargain, but these are top-quality, handmade plush toys in the perfect likeness of your beloved pet. The price reflects the quality, and as a bonus, both Cuddle Clones and The Shelter Pups donate a portion of their proceeds to animal rescue.
You may also pay for your stuffed animal in time, as the wait time for Cuddle Clones can be several months—so get those holiday orders in now!
You don’t have to stop at stuffies
Of course, photorealistic, picture-perfect replicas of your dog aren’t the only option, and now that Cuddle Clones are a hit, there are plenty of other makers out there. Perhaps you’d like to get a porcelain figurine of your puppy, a needle-felted version of your senior dog, or custom chainsaw sculptures of your entire pet family. The internet is full of options, and the only limit is your imagination (okay, and maybe your wallet).
If price is a concern, you can always go with the DIY approach. My mini-Ralph was crocheted by an acquaintance, and while it’s not photorealistic or precisely proportioned, it is the perfect, portable version of my sweet girl, one I can tuck into my carry-on when I travel as a reminder of the living, breathing dog waiting for my return. You can’t put a price on that kind of happiness.
Top image via CuddleClones