Most mornings, Noodle doesn’t feel like having bones. The 13-year-old pug is perfectly content to stay in bed, body as jiggly as a tub of beige jello.
On the rare days he deigns to rise from his nest, tens of millions of people across the internet rejoice.
Noodle and his owner, 30-year-old Jonathan Graziano, have become TikTok’s latest obsession. The pair’s morning ritual, posted almost daily to Graziano’s TikTok and Noodle’s Instagram accounts, have drawn an uncountable mass of people from around the world.
“Good morning everyone, and welcome back to yet another round of ‘no bones,’ the game where we find out if my 13-year-old pug woke up with bones,” Graziano says at the start of most of these videos. “As a result, we find out what kind of day we’re going to have.”
The game’s simple. Graziano lifts the sleepy pug to its feet and watches with trepidation if Noodle stays standing. If Noodle deflates back into his bed, it’s a “no bones day” — a sign to take it easy, cancel plans and practise self care.
If Noodle stays standing, it’s a “bones day,” a sign to pursue ambitions, tackle tasks and finally buy those roller skates.
“We’ve done this for years and years and years, but now I do it just to check in and see how (Noodle’s) doing,” said Graziano, a New York City-based social media manager, in an interview with the Star.
“Things are very bad right now, and I think this ‘bones, no bones’ thing is just a very simple light for people to latch onto,” he said. “If this pug can wake up in the morning and if he’s going to have bones, then I can get out of bed and I can do my day too.”
Graziano’s TikTok account is actively exploding in popularity. In the last 30 days, he gained almost 3 million new followers, according to social media tracker Social Blade.
“The way that it happened and the rate that it happened totally blows me away,” Graziano said.
As of Sunday, he had roughly 3.5 million followers and over 34.6 million likes on his videos. His most popular video was viewed by over 15 million people.
These days it’s hard to flip through TikTok without bumping into Noodle-related content, whether it’s Graziano’s own posts or those of Noodle’s adoring fans. Noodle memes have also breached other platforms, from Instagram to Facebook. On Twitter, #bonesday and #nobonesday were trending several times last week.
On Graziano’s end, he’s been veritably buried in a sea of comments, opinions and spinoff content, a resounding majority of them positive he said.
“I get messages from people who say their mom is sick and she hasn’t been doing well, but she felt it was a bones day and she wanted to go on a walk. That kind of thing is absolutely miraculous to me,” Graziano said.
But, his rapid and largely unsolicited rise to fame has a price.
Although he’s happy bringing joy to so many, Graziano said the pressure of posting every day exacerbated his existing anxiety. So many people had come to expect, even rely on his daily uploads, he said, and he wants to satisfy everyone.
But Noodle is old. Graziano would rather pamper his pug than wake him from a nice nap or startle his aching joints for a mere TikTok.
“There’s been a lot of anxiety that’s come between (uploading daily) and making sure that I’m always being respectful of this little dog,” he said. “His comfort and his happiness is the most important thing, more so than any TikTok video.”
But whenever he takes a day off, people start messaging him — and some can be cruel.
“I wake up in the morning in panic a lot of times because if I don’t get these videos up soon enough or if I don’t do blah, blah, blah, people can be very mean,” he said. “I know you’re supposed to ignore them, but I’m just not there yet.”
People have gotten mad at him because they had a bad day on a yes-bones day, he said. Others were angry he owned a pug.
“I like that this means so much to people, but I think sometimes the people who messaged me forget that I’m a person,” he said.
However, he added, these were by far the minority.
“I’m definitely gonna keep doing these (videos),” he said. “As long as it continues to bring joy to people, it brings joy to me. And as long as (Noodle’s) happy or indifferent towards it, we’re golden.”
For now, Noodle is content to keep acting as TikTok’s jiggly daily almanac.
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