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Hounds of Love

The trio of Goldendoodle pups stealing Berliners’ hearts

With his three Goldendoodle puppers, Norbert Fischl is blessing Instagram - and the streets of Berlin - with some seriously good dog content.

Norbert Fischl and his shaggy gang: Eni, Poppy and Rubi (from left). Photo: Makar Artemev

Norbert Fischl receives heaps of attention when he cruises through Berlin in his SL 560 Mercedes convertible – but not because of the car. Three big fluffy Goldendoodles – Rubi, Eni and Poppy – are sprawled across the passenger seat and back bench, turning heads at every traffic light.

Documenting his life with the charming giants on Instagram since 2019, Fischl has garnered a sizable following on the platform. We visited the Doodle den in Charlottenburg to find out what makes the popular pooches – and their owner – tick.

Tell us, how did you become a threefold Doodle dad?

My wife Diana and I are big dog people. We got Rubi, the oldest, in February 2014. He came from a breeder in Ohio and arrived by cargo flight at our house in Boston, where we were living at the time. He’s very lively, always wanting to hug the whole world, and very friendly, but he requires a lot of training.

When you see them, you think of a teddy bear or a character from Sesame Street or The Muppet Show.

He was so lively that my wife, who was initially in charge because I was always travelling for work, said Rubi and her needed a balance. So in 2016, when we were back in Berlin, we called the breeder in Ohio and asked for a Doodle that would complement Rubi. And the breeder picked exactly the right one. Eni is the complete opposite of Rubi; they immediately became a great team.

Then in 2019, I started thinking, how long do dogs actually live? Seventeen or 18 years, if you’re lucky, but maybe only 10 to 12 years, and Rubi was almost six at the time. I thought, I never want to have less than two dogs again because it’s so wonderful. But we also didn’t want to wait for the oldest to potentially pass away, so we thought we had to do it now. So we called the breeder again. This time, my wife wanted a female, and that’s how we got Poppy in 2020.

Photo: Makar Artemev

The three are absolutely adorable. Can impressions be deceiving?

They’re definitely not ‘lifestyle’ dogs, as you might expect at first glance. I can say with 100% certainty that a Goldendoodle is not a beginner’s dog. Most people think so, but Doodles are very smart and have a high need for movement. You can’t just walk them around the block, at least not the larger ones. They need a lot of daily exercise, ideally in the woods, to burn off energy, and they need a loving but firm hand. You really have to engage with them properly. There are probably dogs that are easier to handle.

I can say with 100% certainty that a Goldendoodle is not a beginner’s dog.

What’s the dynamic between the dogs?

Rubi is the Dood boss. In the woods or in the car, he’s always the one scanning the surroundings and barking at other dogs first. But actually, he’s a goofball. He does silly things and approaches everyone, and if he feels welcome, he likes to jump up. He’s totally affectionate.

Eni is the COO. In the woods, when other dogs appear in the distance, he’s the one who runs towards them first to check the situation. And Rubi only joins if he thinks he needs to help. Eni is more calm. At home, he’s also the one who sometimes retreats to another room.

And Poppy is the lady, the Doodle girl, who is also extroverted, and wants to do everything perfectly. But compared to the other two, she’s shyer when there are unfamiliar dogs around. And there’s, of course, the pack dynamic, where her brothers always make sure that other males are escorted away quickly if they linger too long around Poppy.

Photo: Makar Artemev

Why do you think people go crazy for Doodles?

When you see them, you think of a teddy bear or a character from Sesame Street or The Muppet Show. They look so soft and cuddly, which triggers a warm fuzzy feeling in most people. Most Goldendoodles are very friendly and just create a good mood.

Tell us how Instagram came into the picture. How did you know people would be interested?

In summer 2019, after the SL got registered, we were driving around, and everywhere we went, people were around us at traffic lights, rolling down their windows. I was listening to the radio or something, and people would shout things like “Oh, cute” or “Wow, that’s awesome” (laughs). Or we’d go get ice cream, and the same thing happened.

There would be people asking questions and wanting to take photos – which is totally okay – but it makes it impossible for you to get away. I generally like engaging with people, but you also have your things to do. So, I had a magnet made for the car on Etsy with our Instagram handle on it, to direct people there.

How does it feel to be the most popular dog owner in Berlin?

[Scoffs] It’s surreal. Though my wife and I can kind of tell from the reactions that most people are fascinated and associate something positive with it. They feel this positive energy, or love, and just want to pet the dogs. I think the fact that the car is not in perfect condition also makes us more approachable. It’s a combination of these things. I just enjoy seeing other people happy.

Photo: Makar Artemev

Do you ever have to deal with haters?

Sure, depending on some of the statements you make, you might get one or two particularly offensive messages. Or sometimes you get people saying stuff like, “You only drive them around in the car and don’t take them for walks”, which is obviously not true.

But honestly, I believe – that’s my impression, and that’s the beautiful part – that these three somehow manage to touch people, regardless of what they do or think, where they come from, whether they’re rich or poor, educated or not. Somehow, they manage to make everyone feel connected. I think it’s great that they bring people together, which is something that’s often lacking these days.