Columnist John Grogan was onto something when he started writing columns about his crazy Labrador retriever named Marley.
Like most people who have seen the movie “Marley and Me,” I laughed and even got choked up by watching the antics of the crazy dog that inspired the former newspaper columnist to compile a book of stories Hollywood ultimately turned into a film. After watching it a few years ago, I wondered if I would ever have a dog so lovably ridiculous it would compel me write about him or her.
Then, last September, Noodle the schnoodle came along.
For months, Sarah had been begging me to get a dog. She knew I too wanted one ever since I moved from my cramped, no-dogs-allowed apartment to the spacious condo where we now live.
By the end of summer, I caved and we slowly began looking for dogs. After about a month of searching and contacting rescue sites, Sarah happened upon a listing for a dog on Craigslist. Though that website can always be a little sketchy, we later found out the dog belonged to a couple from Rapid City, S.D., who told us they worked in the Bakken and were no longer able to take care of their 6-month-old puppy.
Like most others who encounter Noodle for the first time, my first question was “What is a schnoodle?”
“Half miniature schnauzer, half poodle,” Sarah replied, reading the listing.
This so-called manly man wanted nothing to do with a poodle. But, Sarah persisted after seeing pictures and we agreed to meet Noodle’s former owner later that week in the parking lot of Dickinson’s Walmart.
Once again, I make no bones about how sketchy this transaction seemed despite the grief and tears on the face of the woman who was giving up her puppy to a young couple she’d never met. The little guy, who had gotten carsick on the 250-mile ride from South Dakota, was a bit unkempt and nervous but appeared sweet nonetheless.
After some light conversation with the woman, Sarah walked up after parking the car. The dog, who would later that day become known as Noodle, latched on to her almost instinctively. He stood on his hind legs and literally began to hug her as she picked him up out of the woman’s van, as if to say, “Take me with you.”
After that, we pretty much had no choice but to honor his wishes.
So we did, and he has been a great dog — although not without his quirks. Some are weird and some are extremely annoying. Others are absurdly adorable.
For as cute as this dog can be — he enjoys waking me up by climbing on the bed and putting his face inches from mine after crawling atop my torso — he’s every bit as crazy.
You see, Noodle has what can only be described as social anxiety — and not in the bad way. Just as a human would be diagnosed with anxiety because of perceived social behavior, the veterinarian determined that Noodle has the same affliction.
He’s not afraid of anyone. In fact, he loves people almost too much. Often to the point where he gets himself in trouble.
He enjoys looking through a small window at his eye level near our door so he can spot children playing across the street in the park. That’s when the howling and crying begins.
And I’m not talking little whimpers. These are high-pitched cries that make me wonder if someone is trying to hurt him. That’s never the case.
I’ll walk out to the living room and there’s eagle-eyed Noodle, looking through his little window at kids 300 yards away. He shoots me a look and whimper as if to say, “Look dude, kids! Let me out so I can play with them!”
If he meets a new person he likes, he almost has to be restrained by a leash for our fear that he’ll try to take a running jump into their arms.
To all of his crazy antics, my 64-year-old father will say, “Well yeah, he’s a dog.” Only then am I quick to remind him of how many dogs we had growing up on the farm who weren’t nearly as weird as this one.
One chased vehicles — tractors or cars, it didn’t matter — but was always there on the porch at night. That’s a dog.
One was a sometimes grouchy, yet outstanding cattle dog who always found his way to vehicles for rides. That’s a dog.
One, a mutt of mutts, was given to us by friends in New England because he was a roamer who’d take off from their house, only to be found halfway across town. At the farm, he’d chase tennis balls all afternoon and crash at the foot of someone’s bed each night. That’s a dog.
Noodle isn’t so much a dog as he is a kid trapped inside a dog’s body.
But I guess that’s why we love him and look forward to all the great stories he will provide us for what we hope is the next decade and beyond.
Monke is the managing editor of The Dickinson Press. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit his blog at monke.areavoices.com and send him a tweet at monkebusiness.