Hearts Melt As German Shepherd Adopts Toys and Treats Them As Her Babies

A dog that has adopted two unusual "puppies" as her own has melted hearts online.

Thea, the 15-month-old German Shepherd, gained viral attention after a video of her caring for two toy pigs gained over 2.9 million views.

Owner Natalie Banks from Wilmington, North Carolina, purchased the pigs for Thea when she was a puppy, but only recently gave them to her.

"I had them packed up until after she was finished with her destructive phase of toys," Banks told Newsweek. "We pulled them out and put them in her toy box not thinking much more of it."

Thea the dog and her pigs
Pictures of Thea the German Shepherd dog and the toy pigs that she treats like her puppies. alba_and_althea_gsds/TikTok

When Thea discovered the toy pigs, her reaction was most unexpected—she began caring for them almost although they were her puppies.

"She switches between loving on her toys and playing ball," Banks explained. "We usually have a ball in our laps to toss for her at all times—she sees to that."

But when Banks tried to throw one of the toy pigs for Thea to play fetch with, the reaction was quite different.

"I threw it—not knowing it was her baby—I watched how gently she picked it up and immediately knew she was treating it like a puppy," said Banks.

The next morning, she Thea brought her owner the orange pig as well: "It was a surprising addition for myself and my family," said the owner.

"She always checks on them," said Banks. "We keep them in a box that we bring out for her as we have other dogs that wouldn't be as gentle with them, so we keep them safe."

The dog's care for the toy pigs has melted hearts online where TikTok users have rushed to share their reactions.

"Omg my heart," said one reply. "I love dogs so much more than I love most people."

Another TikTok user wrote: "That's the sweetest thing I've ever seen."

"I just can't, this is so cute," said one reply.

"She is an extremely loving dog," said Banks. "We call her a gentle giant because she is over 100 pounds but is gentle as a lamb. She has adopted other toys before, but the piggies really took it to the next level."

On the viral video, some commenters were concerned that Thea may be going through a false pregnancy, or that she was upset, but Banks explained that this was not the case.

"She has never been stressed and only happy about the piglets," she said. "I think she looks at them as additional family members and treats them as such, but deep down she knows they're just toys."

After the video gained millions of views, the love for Thea and her piglets has delighted her owner: "I've always been the kind of person to want to bring joy to others," she said. "So to see how many people were touched by her story was a huge blessing for my heart."

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