Bones or No Bones Day, Noodle Is Getting Sh*t Done
Noodle the Pug’s dad Jonathan Graziano on his dog’s viral success, adopting older pets, and the importance of self-care.
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During the peak of the Covid-19 lockdown, we seemed to only have two modes of operation: extreme laziness to the point of boredom and exhaustion, or diligent upheaval and task management. So it’s only fitting that as things slowly began to return to some form of normalcy, a budding social media star created a trend that encouraged healthier, less shame-filled versions of each end of the spectrum.
The concept is “bones day” — led, of course, by Noodle, a 13-year-old Pug prone to spontaneous snoozing. Most mornings, Noodle’s dad Jonathan Graziano will gently prop him up above his bed before letting go. If Noodle lands firmly on his feet, it’s a bones day intended to inspire productivity, lavish purchases, and great leaps of faith. But if he plops down back to sleep, it’s a “no bones day,” encouraging relaxation and self-care. The process is essentially Groundhog Day meets your daily horoscope wrapped in the positivity and warmth of the Great British Bake Off. We recently put our feet up with Graziano to chat about fame, senior pet adoption, and the importance of self-care.
Noodle was seven when you adopted him and he’s 13 now. Was it always important to you to adopt an older dog?
No, it wasn’t. When I got Noodle, I was just beginning to entertain the idea of even getting a dog. I knew I wanted to rescue a dog — that was always on the table. But it just so happens that someone came up to me after a work event and showed me a photo of this seven-and-a-half-year old Pug who needed a home. Then it just made sense to bring him home.
Anything you wish people knew about adopting older dogs?
If this all just disappeared tomorrow and everyone forgot about Noodle, I hope the one thing that they’d remember is that adopting older dogs — and adopting dogs in general — is really important. Whether they’re from a breeder or a rescue organization, all dogs deserve health and homes. But there are so many in shelters who are amazing dogs, just like Noodle, who are different ages and [breeds], but they’re all worthy of homes. I hope people planning to get a dog look to their local animal shelter or foster homes. I really encourage them to adopt and rescue.
How did the concept of “bones day” develop?
It’s never been as grand as it is now, but we’ve basically been doing it since I adopted him. He’s always been very stubborn about not wanting to get up or move if he doesn’t want to. When I first adopted him, I was ready to start going on early morning walks and really commit to that lifestyle. Then it’d be 11 a.m. and the last time he went out was 8 p.m. the night before. I’d be sitting there like, dude, you gotta go potty — you have to or you’re gonna bust a vessel or something. But he would just not be ready to wake up, so we decided we would start to refer to it as a bones or no bones day, depending on how he was feeling.
You first posted about Noodle in August 2020. The account has now grown to more than two million followers. How have you handled its success, and more importantly, how has Noodle?
It’s been overwhelming. We only had about 25,000 followers in August of this year and we were not posting consistently. We were just doing stuff for fun and not thinking too much about it. Then over the past three months or so, this has just truly blown up into something huge. I think I’ve been handling it fairly well, but there’s a lot of anxiety that comes with it. People want to see these every single morning but we can’t always do that, and when we don’t I’ll get some nasty messages. That does take some of the fun away from this, especially since this is ultimately such a positive thing. Noodles has been loving every minute of it, though, because now he gets recognized on the street and is entitled to even more attention than he’s ever gotten before. He’s been riding this wave with a smile on his face.
Nasty messages aside, there has obviously been a huge response to Noodle, with a lot of people dedicating posts, videos, even songs to him. What have been some of your favorite?
The songs are amazing. I’ve also seen a lot of people laminate photos of Noodle sitting up and laying down to put in their offices — those have been so cool. But, honestly, the best responses I’ve gotten have been private messages. One person told me their mom was sick and going through some tough times during the pandemic, but she loves Noodle and on a bones day, she asked them to take her out. It truly makes me so happy to know that there are people who are doing something actionable with this, and they’re really taking this to heart. It’s been really cool to see such positivity.
Why do you think so many people have gravitated towards Noodle and the unabashed positivity of the bones day?
Honestly, I don’t think there’s much good news going on so people are worn out. They’re burnt out and I say this from personal experience. I don’t have it in me a lot of days to inspire myself to get out of bed. I’ll do it. But it’s hard. With everything going on in the world right now, how can I treat myself? I think we’re in such a pressure cooker of insanely difficult and unprecedented times that people aren’t able to use their traditional means of motivation or inspiration. So I think people have really gravitated toward this simply because we need something positive and joyous.
While a bones day is intended to inspire someone to follow their ambitions or finally attack a task that they’ve been pushing off, there is a common misconception that a no bones day is a bad thing. What are the positives of a no bones day?
I love a no bones day so much more than a bones day! I don’t want to do sh*t. I want to sit in bed and play video games all day. I want to order food. I want to listen to what my body needs and take care of myself. There’s something inherently good about feeling inspired to get up and go do something, to actively tackle an objective. But a lot of people feel pressured to only be active. We have this weird societal structure right now that if you’re not busy, you’re not living. If you don’t have a full calendar, it’s because you don’t have friends or you don’t have a good job or you don’t have stuff going on.
People just need to start taking a little more time to recognize that that’s fine. If you’re not busy today, it doesn’t mean you’re not a great employee or friend — it just means that you have a day to focus on yourself. I don’t think people do that, and I think it’s time that they do. We like to joke about how a no bones day is about being lazy, but it’s about taking care of yourself. That’s how I recharge. It looks different for different people, but it boils down to using this as an opportunity to care for yourself in whatever way is most appropriate.
Conversely, has a bones day ever inspired you to do something you probably wouldn’t have otherwise?
Yes, absolutely. These are live readings every morning — they’re not pre-baked or anything. If it’s a bones day, sometimes I’m like sh*t, you have to take him out on a walk. Then while you’re out, you might as well drop off your laundry. Then go to the bank. I’ll have all this stuff to do, but once I do it I’ll be grateful I did. All because I saw that it was a bones day. If other people on the internet are going to take this seriously, I might as well as well too.
Noodle’s unfiltered dedication towards self-care is clear throughout the videos, but what are some of his lesser-known traits — the parts of his personality not always captured on social?
So people don’t know that Noodle actually runs very tight security around my apartment. If I have guests over, even people he knows, if they get up to go to the bathroom Noodle will bark very loudly at them. He’ll chase after strollers on the street. He will pursue anything with wheels, which is both hilarious and devastating. He also has an insatiable appetite — absolutely insatiable. I will feed this dog a very, very full, balanced diet every day and he will still sit by his food bowl and whimper like Oliver Twist. He has this massive personality and he likes to snuggle and sit on people. He’s a lap dog. And I don’t think it’s out of love. I think it’s out of dominance, but we pretend it’s out of love.
Viral trends that’ll help your dog (okay, you) through long days of isolation and/or boredom.
“You can’t live life with any fashion regrets; otherwise you’d never experiment and take risks!”
Sean Zucker is a writer whose work has been featured in Points In Case, The Daily Drunk, Posty, and WellWell. He has an adopted Pit Bull named Banshee whose work has been featured on the kitchen floor and whose behavioral issues rival his own.