Bones or No Bones: The pug who’s predicting the day

Augustus Barnette, Contributing Writer

Move over Punxsutawney Phil: There is a new animal oracle in town. Over the past few weeks, millions of people across the internet, specifically TikTok, are tuning in to see whether Noodle the pug is having a bones or no-bones day. 

On Sept. 9, 2020, TikTok user Jonathan Graziano introduced the world to Noodle, his now-13-year-old pug with a tendency to stay in bed. A year later he started a series where he wakes Noodle up to figure out whether it is a bones day or a no-bones day.

Almost every morning, Graziano wakes Noodle up, and his decisions to stay up or lay down determine the nature of the day. If Noodle sits up in typical dog fashion, then it is a bones day. If Noodle flops over in a jellylike state shortly after being picked up, it is a no-bones day.

@jongrazplan accordingly 🔮🦴🔮 ##nobones ##bonesday ##pug ##adoptdontshop ##noodletok

♬ original sound – Jonathan

Noodle, along with his dedication to staying in bed, already fits the internet’s mold of cute, viral animals, but Noodle’s fanbase is interested in more than his cuteness — they care about his forecast for the day. 

What initially started as an owner showing off his dog’s interesting habit quickly became the internet’s main indicator of how any given day will go. On a no-bones day, one may stay in bed like Noodle or proceed to have an otherwise sluggish day. When Noodle wakes up with bones, Graziano urges the viewers to treat themselves.

“Buy that lottery ticket, file that divorce, quit that job. Do whatever you were planning to do but were too scared to do, you have good luck,” Graziano said in a TikTok after waking Noodle on the morning of Sept. 14.

Regardless of how Noodle wakes up, it seems Graziano’s message every day is to take care of yourself, which everyone needs to hear. 

“I think this has been a really wholesome trend, and I’m glad to see so many people taking part in it,” said Jesse Clopton, a junior majoring in creative media. “Everybody’s just been really happy, and it’s good to finally see something on social media that everybody is bonding over.”

However, Noodle isn’t the first TikTok trend to predict how a day will go. Ideas and practices of manifestation have taken a prominent place on the self-care side of TikTok. 

Manifesting — the idea that someone can will something into existence by thought and focus — goes all the way back to the New Thought movement of the 1800s. Although not always involving a prophetic pug, Noodle’s forecasts tie in well with this idea, which the internet and Generation Z have also taken hold of in recent years.

While Alexa Tullett, a professor of psychology, said she has a harder time believing the supernatural side of manifestation, she said she does believe one’s own expectations can play into the outcome of situations.

“The idea of manifesting to me — if taken with a grain of salt like a lot of self-help ideas — seems like it has a useful kernel of truth to it, which is that your expectations do make a difference in your experiences. So there might be some sort of value in trying, for instance, to expect the best from people,” she said. 

Clopton has a similar view, agreeing with some of the mental aspects of manifestation. She said she uses it more as a tool to believe in herself.

“I tell myself I have the confidence to do something if I’m scared of it, but I know I have to actually act on it, I can’t just tell myself or it’s not going to happen,” she said.

Recently, Graziano and Noodle appeared on the Today show, where he said “a bones day is a day where you have to go after your ambition or a task you were putting off” and a no-bones day is a day where people should participate in self-care. 

Mental health will always be important, but through social media it would appear many are growing more comfortable with discussions around their own mental health. 

“My guess is that the term ‘self-care’ has skyrocketed in use in the past few years, which I think was not really on our radar so much maybe 10 years ago,” Tullett said. “I think that it’s becoming a more common topic of conversation, and I think that coincides with a greater, more openness about talking about mental health, and perhaps a better understanding of mental health.”

Tullett also said the bones day trend “reflects some understanding of the recurrent nature of mental health concerns like depression and anxiety” and is hopeful social media trends like this one will help lead to a more open dialogue about mental health. 

“If I’m to have positive expectations about memes like that, it would be that there are ways for us to communicate better about our mental health and emotional needs in a way that can promote both compassion for ourselves and also compassion for other people,” Tullet said.

With the fall semester in full swing, Noodle and Graziano are providing a necessary, harmless outlet for millions of people to enjoy. Hopefully their message of taking care of yourself sticks. Here’s to a bones day on the horizon.

Questions? Email the Culture desk at culture@cw.ua.edu.