Our watchful protector and not-so-silent guardian

Last week, I worked the afternoon and evening shift while my news editor, page designer and all-around nighttime showrunner April Baumgarten took a well-deserved vacation.

That meant I had to get into the habit of sleeping in, working until around 11 p.m. or later and staying awake into the early-morning hours — something that until early 2013 was entirely normal for me after spending the previous decade working in newspaper sports departments.

It sounds kinda fun, right? Sleep in and stay up late! Well, it wasn’t so bad when I was a single guy. Now, with a wife and dog at home waiting for me, it’s not so fun.

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Noodle vs. The Bunny

Noodle on the lookout for The Bunny.

Sometimes, I wonder if my dog doesn’t have an inner monologue that only other animals can hear. Like a cartoon character.

If you read my column, you probably know I love our dog, Noodle, a 2½-year-old Schnoodle who has become more like a kid than a pet. But maybe what I love about him the most is that he just keeps getting weirder and weirder.

Case in point is this summer’s saga of Noodle vs. The Bunny.

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A dog’s retirement home

Almost a year ago, we decided to get another dog. Not in the traditional sense either. Only nine months after we had adopted Noodle, our schnoodle puppy that some of you may have read about in previous columns, we “adopted” Donovan, my sister-in-law’s 13-year-old chiweenie. Sarah likes to call our home his retirement home.

Don is a military dog. Sarah’s sister was reassigned to Washington, D.C., for training, and the place where she and her daughter would be living wasn’t set up for pets.

On top of that, she is scheduled to be transferred overseas this year, which made it nearly impossible for her to keep Don without jumping through some huge hoops. So she turned to us, knowing all the moving combined with Don’s age wouldn’t work for him.

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Dogs are more like us than we thought

Noodle, our 1 1/2-year-old schnoodle.

Not a day goes by where my fiancee, Sarah, doesn’t call our dog, Noodle, her “son.” I usually just shake my head and call him “buddy” like a normal person.

Like millions of others, Sarah shuns the idea of “owning” a pet. Instead, since we don’t have any children, she subscribes to the “pet parent” mindset and has embraced it, caring for Noodle like he was our actual son. He goes places with us many dogs wouldn’t and gets treated better than most people I know.

People who love and treat their dogs like kids may seem a little crazy at first glance — especially to a farm kid like me. But a recent scientific study has determined they may not be so crazy after all.

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Happiness through a dog’s eyes

If we could only all be as happy as a dog. Have you ever seen creatures so cheerful?

When treated right, very little seems to get them down or break their spirits. They’re basically a walking, barking and itching smile.

Sometimes all it takes is a walk around the block, some food or a game of fetch and you have the happiest animal on the planet at your side.

I came to realize just how happy a canine’s life can be when we took our dog, Noodle, to my family’s farm last weekend. We figure he ran about 5 miles that day. By the time the day was done, he couldn’t stop smiling.

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