My mother recently called to let me know that not only did I miss Noodle’s birthday, but I also missed National Dog Day. 😆 Sorry, Old Friend. One day, you’ll get this kind of attention again. For now, though, thank you for licking Lucy’s toes while she repeatedly pokes you in the eye. You are a good dog, Noods.
It’s been a while since I talked about Noodle on the blog! The long and short of it is that she’s good. (See what I did there? HAHAHA.) She’s not getting a ton of attention from Mitch and me these days, but she is getting it from Emma and Lucy as well as from our next door neighbors’ little girls. (We’ve decided to let them play together as both families have been extremely cautious during the pandemic.) Noodle is the star of the show; the girls squabble over who gets to hold the leash, and they race up and down the sidewalk with her. Heck, all four girls have matching dresses with teeny Noodles all over them. Let’s just say that if dogs went to high school, Noodle would win the popularity contest–paws down. (I couldn’t help myself with that one, either. 😂)
Noodle turned six over the summer. SIX! This is crazy to think about for a couple of reasons. First, I can’t believe that we’ve had the responsibilities associated with being dog owners for that long. It means we’ve lived in Chicago for six years now, as we got Noodle shortly after we moved. It seems like just yesterday I was crying to my tiny companion about homesickness, and now we’re here! Second, Noodle has changed so much.
It’s been a wild ride with our quirky miniature dachshund. A few years ago, I wrote a post called “The Trouble with Pets,” and talked about how difficult of a dog Noodle was. To borrow my own words, the situation escalated to the point that caring for the dog had become more challenging than caring for our baby. We found ourselves wondering whether we were being fair–to Emma, to ourselves, and to Noodle. You can read about that emotional chapter of our lives here, but Noodle is now a changed dog. Yes, she still barks like crazy a few times per day, and yes, she sometimes adds to the frustration of parenthood. But Noodle 2.0 is here, and SHE’S GREAT.
A few key differences between the original model and Noodle 2.0:
- She’s more spatially aware. Noodle never did anything malicious and no one ever got hurt, but when Emma was born, we really couldn’t put her on the floor to play because the dog was such a spaz. She was just all over the place and lacked any sense of self awareness. We really worried that one day there’d be an accident, like a scratched eye or a bad fall… and that fear was all-consuming. I know that might come across as an overreaction, but as new parents, we worried a lot. And Noodle had never been around a baby before! Now, though, Noodle is very self-aware. She’s careful when around both girls, and as I mentioned before, she’s sweet and cuddly, even when Lucy is tugging at or poking her. (We always intervene, but you know: Lucy’s a baby, and it happens.) I can’t tell you how reassuring this is. No more pouncing!
- She’s less needy. Oh man. This is a huge one. Back in the day, I couldn’t go to the bathroom unless I brought Noodle with me because her separation anxiety was so intense. She’d literally sit between my feet, haha. Today, though, she’s quite content to hang out by herself. She still adores cuddling and snuggling, but this is a considerable change–for the better!
- She’s no longer defiant. Noodle destroyed a lot of things back in the day. See the Jack Rogers in the above photo? A couple of weeks after this pic was snapped, she up and ate the heels off them. (Not sure how that’s even possible, but she did it.) She ate everything she could get her little paws on, and the behavior continued long after puppyhood. You name it and she destroyed it. Shoes, car shift knobs (true story), toys, curtains, kitchen stool legs, books, magazines, boxes–whatever it was, it didn’t stand a chance. Fast forward several years and Noodle is so much better. Every once in a while she’ll rip up a binky (her favorite) or a paper towel that’s fallen on the floor… but that’s about it. It’s so nice not having to be on the defense anymore!
- She no longer has accidents. Fun fact: dachshunds are not supposed to go up and down stairs. It’s very common for dachshunds to break their backs as a result of their long shape, and often there’s nothing that can be done. (😭) We have a lot of stairs in the new house, and when we moved in, we put up barriers so she couldn’t access them. But Emma forgot to put the barrier back into place just one time, and Noodle fell down the stairs and we almost lost her. After that, we installed an invisible fence. (This is the “fence” and this is the rechargeable collar.) Mitch and I were extremely reluctant about doing this at first, but it works perfectly. No more accidents. And an added benefit is that Noodle hasn’t had a single pee or poop accident since we installed it, either! (Dachshunds are known to slink off and pee and poop in the house; every dachshund owner I’ve ever met agrees that no matter how much training you invest in, they’ll still do it. Wildly frustrating but also incredibly unsanitary and unhealthy with crawling children. It had to be stopped.) The invisible fence has been a game-changer. Noodle received two small corrections on the first day, and she really only flinched and then walked away. (I’ve read that dachshunds tend to catch on very quickly, but I really can’t speak to how long it takes other breeds.) Overall, it’s been fabulous, and Noodle no longer falls down the stairs or poops in Emma and Lucy’s rooms. (Praise be.) Today, Noodle only has full reign of the kitchen and the patio. When we hang out in the dining/living room area, we take off her collar and carry her there. She won’t go in unless we carry her!
- SHE ENJOYS WALKS. I mentioned this in my last post, but for most of Noodle’s life, the adjective that described her best was skittish. (Actually, maybe lunatic. 😆 Whatever, though.) To be honest, next to companionship, the biggest reason we even got her was to walk the city with her. Mitch and I are walkers. We love it. Hate cars. Give us a four-hour walk any day and we’re happy. Noodle, though, couldn’t handle ’em. A floating plastic bag “coming for her” would send her into hysterics and we’d have to go home. We tried to get her to enjoy walks for years, until our vet eventually said that “some dogs just aren’t outside dogs” and recommended that we stop trying. When Noodle turned six, though, she started loving them. I DON’T UNDERSTAND IT but I’m here for it. Every once in a while she’ll get spooked by, say, a flower that she absentmindedly bumps into while sniffing or something… but for the most part, she wags her tail while she walks and I’m happy for her.
- She gets tired. She’s slower! So much slower. She basks in the sun; sleeps under our feet; she willingly goes into her crate during the day (door open) when she needs breaks. And because Noodle’s moves more slowly, we can move more slowly, too. The Larkin Household is still very much defined by chaos, haha, but Noodle is no longer a constant instigator and that’s a big relief.
- She rarely wakes babies up anymore. Because the house is bigger, Noodle’s barking doesn’t reach the girls’ rooms as easily. Every once in a while, she’ll wake up Lucy during nap time and I’ll want to murder her. (Jokes.) But this is rare because the front of the house is much farther away from the kitchen–Noodle’s home turf–than it used to be. Our UPS, USPS and FedEx guys also don’t knock as much these days, presumably because of COVID.
- On a related note, she barks for shorter periods of time when we have visitors. This part of Noodle’s existence has not yet been completely rectified, but it’s improved a lot. She used to bark for a solid 20-60 minutes when people came over, and it ruined so many visits. This year, though, she’s really lightened up. Of course, we don’t have many visitors these days because of the pandemic. But the few that we have safely had–like my brother, for example, or our neighbors–have gone so much better. While she still barks, she’s usually over it once the visitor picks her up and hugs her. (This is a technique we tried many times with her in years past, but it never worked before now!)
- She has strong bonds with the girls. This is hugely important to us because of the pandemic. I wouldn’t say that Noodle didn’t have bonds with them before, but now that everyone is home 24/7, those bonds have grown a lot stronger. It’s wonderful. Emma and Lucy play games with her, hug her, pet her, and feed her. They “do her hair” and give her pep talks. They train her to do hilarious things–like pull Emma on her scooter, which Noodle loves but we try to limit; trot alongside a bicycle; and roll over twice instead of once. She’s such a good sport, and her sweet demeanor with the girls makes my heart swell. I’m grateful! 2020 has been hard on children, and furry companions can really lift their spirits.
Anyway, Noodle’s living her best life over here, and never have we loved her more. Can you relate in any way? I love hearing pet stories, so please share if this post conjures up some memories for you!
Good dog, Noodle. Good dog.