LOS ANGELES (AP) — Noble is a four-legged Facebook star with thousands of friends. Sam is a 23-year-old Marine who was paralyzed in a car accident.
After months, the two have been matched.
Noble, a golden retriever, was raised from a pup and trained as a service dog as his online fans logged in every day, sharing stories and offering words of encouragement.
Sam Farr, 23, of Oceanside joined the Marines right out of high school. He was on duty in North Carolina two years ago when the car he was in went out of control and over a cliff, partially severing his spinal cord.
It would be a month before he woke from a coma in a Georgia hospital. He was paralyzed, unable to use his hands or walk. During Farr’s rehabilitation, volunteers from a group called Canine Assistants visited the hospital with service dogs that would lick Farr’s hand. When Farr was asked if he’d like a dog, he said yes.
It was more than 18 months of hard work for both before they met a few weeks ago.
"He jumped straight in my lap and started licking me in the face," Farr said. "They brought two other dogs. I had to continually give the other dogs treats to get them to respond to me. With Noble, I didn’t have to do that."
Only after they knew it was a match did Canine Assistants tell Farr about Noble’s Facebook fame. "They asked me if I knew anything about Facebook and I said, ‘I am the king of Facebook.’"
Farr promised Noble’s fans he would figure out a way to keep them posted. "They have nothing to worry about. Dogs are one of the greatest creatures on God’s planet. I will take care of him like he takes care of me," Farr said.
Her son knows the value of friendship, said his mom, Crystal Farr. After the accident, Farr’s three best friends went to school to learn how to do IVs and take care of him in an emergency. "Sam loved that they did that for him," Mrs. Farr said.
Farr said he hopes he and Noble can go to school, and they are planning a Caribbean cruise. They’ve only known each other a few weeks, but Farr said Noble already knows when he’s feeling bad. "He’ll come to my room and lay his head in the bed next to me and make sure I’m doing OK."
For Farr, the hardest part of being paralyzed is going out. "Sometimes I feel there’s no point, like it’s a waste of time because I can’t do the things I used to do."
But he and Noble have been to the mall, the movies and a restaurant, and going out is starting to have more appeal.
Mrs. Farr said her son is constantly dropping things. She used to retrieve them, but now Noble does. "He’s so fantastic. Sometimes I forget he’s a dog because he reacts so much like a human," she said.
Mrs. Farr is comfortable enough now to go back to work as a CPR instructor for the American Heart Association.
Noble’s Facebook page, chronicling his journey to becoming a service dog, is part of an ad campaign for Milk-Bone. He has over 34,000 friends and counting.
A copyrighter on the campaign, Will Decher, summed up the feelings of those who got to know Noble over the months: "You can teach a dog tricks, rules and commands, but you can’t teach a dog how to have a Noble heart."