Doodle's physical appearance at birth caused the family to believe that he was disabled. Hurst described Doodle as, ". . .all head, with a tiny body which was red and shriveled like an old man's." He appeared abnormal because of his physical traits. The family also thought that he was mentally disabled until one day when he smiled at Brother. The local doctor diagnosed Doodle as having a weak heart, and Doodle couldn't lift his head until he was almost two. He later learned to crawl and talk; however, his development was very slow for a young child. Eventually, Doodle did learn to walk, but he was always sickly and weak with very little stamina. He was not expected to live long, and he died at an early age (five or six) due to his physical disabilities.