EVERETT — Until this week, Noodle’s back legs dragged behind her. She struggled to scamper across the floor. But she would try.
“She has some serious upper body strength,” said Glynis Frederiksen , manager of the Everett Animal Shelter. “But, boy, now that she’s got the cart, there’s no stopping her.”
This week the puppy got a new set of wheels, a kind of wheelchair that lets her use her front paws to run with ease. The shelter put her up for adoption Tuesday, with some reluctance.
“We’re really attached to her,” Frederiksen said.
On Tuesday in the shelter lobby, the new local celebrity showed off her natural talent as a model in front of news cameras, playing fetch with chew toys, in a red scarf with white snowflakes.
Eyewitness accounts confirmed that she is, in fact, a good girl.
Judging by her teeth, Noodle is probably 3 months old. Animal doctors think she could use her back legs when she was born. They don’t know how the curious, friendly, wriggly black-and-brown puppy became paralyzed in her hindquarters. Someone might have dropped her, stepped on her or roughhoused her too hard.
She came in as a stray from Lake Stevens. She wasn’t dirty. She might have been abandoned. She looks to be a mix of breeds, according to the shelter. Likely she has some Labrador in her. DNA tests will confirm her genes in a few weeks. That will help staff to find out how big she’ll get, and how many carts she will need.
Staff’s best guess is three, growing in size over her lifetime. (They’re built by K9 Carts, a dog wheelchair company on Whidbey Island.)
Whoever adopts her will take on a huge, life-altering commitment. The shelter wants to be very clear about that. Paralysis leaves Noodle unable to pee by herself. She’ll need help. She can’t go up stairs. She might get really big. But already, you can tell, she’s a sweetheart.
“She’s just been a joy through the whole thing,” said Dr. Bethany Zolikoff, the house veterinarian at the shelter. “She has not balked at all, with anything we’ve had to do with her.”
In the past month Noodle saw doctor after doctor, as they tried to diagnose her disability. At first they suspected she might have a subluxation, that is, a partial dislocation, in her pelvis. Another round with a neurologist suggested a spinal lesion in her back.
Donations pay for all medical bills at the city’s shelter on Smith Island Road. Frederiksen joked that the shelter could be renamed Smith Island of Misfit Animals. Lately, they’ve fostered a diabetic cat, a kitten born without fibulae, a blind puppy, a pup with a “lobster claw” and others. More than 150 dogs and cats were housed in the shelter as of this week.
About 90 percent of those that are taken in are found new homes or transferred, Frederiksen said. They avoid euthanasia of disabled animals — exceptions are those that are too old, or those that are living in too much pain. Noodle is numb in her back end. Yet shelter staff believes she could develop some leg movement in the future.
“In every other way she’s a perfectly normal puppy,” Frederiksen said. “You’ve seen her running around here. It doesn’t hold her back at all.”
Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; email@example.com. Twitter: @snocaleb.
How to adopt Noodle
To learn more about Noodle, visit everettwa.gov/1784/Noodles-Story.
The adoption application can be found at https://everettwa.gov/formcenter/animal-services-24/noodles-adoption-application-182
An ideal candidate would have experience with disabled dogs.