A Pandemic Puppy Joins the SSFS Staff


Gillian Stingley, Staff Writer

An exciting new canine member has become part of the SSFS community- and not many of us have met him! The new puppy is Rico Niepold, George’s little brother. Rico was born on January 14, 2020. For those curious, he’s a Capricorn and he’s currently over 4 ½ months old. He’s a mini bernedoodle, which means he’s a mix between a Bernese mountain dog and a poodle. Bernedoodles tend not to shed because they are a poodle mix, but he still sheds a little bit. He is an “unfurnished” bernedoodle, so he doesn’t show the same facial hair signs and curl patterns as other poodle mixes. 

So, how did he become a part of the community? Well, it all started with George. As many students may know, George comes to school and assists Spanish classes with Leah. However, Leah was unsure about George’s role in the new building, so she wanted to get him a friend over the summer so that he wouldn’t be lonely during the school year. When the family had to stay home because of Covid-19, Leah decided to get the puppy early. On top of that, Leah’s son, Henry, celebrated his birthday in April, so she thought getting Rico early would make him less upset about being stuck at home. Henry has taken on a great amount of responsibility when it comes to taking care of the new pup. They did extensive research on mini bernedoodles, and found Rico. Rico was living in Pennsylvania, so they traveled up on March 28th to get him, the last day families could leave Maryland before restrictions were put in place. Then, they brought him home to George. 

George has also taken on a new role in the household. He has become Rico’s babysitter, and helps him learn the routines and training that are all a part of being a dog. When George first met his little brother, he wanted to make sure Rico knew he was in charge. After that phase was over, he started playing with and helping the puppy. Now, they sit under Leah’s desk while she’s working for most of the day. George and Rico get along fairly well as long as Rico is not being too aggressive or annoying. George loves his little brother a lot, but he also doesn’t put up with some of Rico’s nonsense. The whole Niepold family has started to appreciate George even more since getting Rico. 

Since we can’t yet meet him, what is Rico really like? Well, he’s very energetic. He loves being brushed, playing in grass, eating food, stealing shoes, chewing on paper products, his family and his friends. Rico has even met Riley and other neighborhood dogs. He’s very talkative (or barkative) when he goes outside, and likes to bark for his canine friends. Rico also has a few fears, too. He’s afraid of going down staircases, little kids, being alone, and being confined. He can be a troublemaker at times, but the Niepolds have ways of getting around it. One tip Leah gives is that citrus essential oils help the puppy smells go away. All in all, Rico is an amazing puppy who loves everyone (and also food). Hopefully we can meet him soon!