When Florida resident Gisela Shore adopted a small puppy from an elderly couple who could no longer care for him, she had no idea how special the Chihuahua would turn out to be. Nearly two decades later, her little friend has earned himself an incredible world record.
“I was a volunteer at Peggy Adams Animal Rescue and one of the employees told me about an elderly couple trying to surrender a puppy because they couldn't take care of him any longer,” Shore recalls.
“I met with the couple and was introduced to a tiny tan Chihuahua. They'd named him Peanut Butter. I later changed his name to TobyKeith.”
At 21 years and 66 days old on 16 March, TobyKeith was officially named the oldest dog in the world by Guinness World Records, just two months after celebrating his 21st birthday in January.
Gisela says she and her close family had already suspected that TobyKeith might be the oldest dog in the world prior to the confirmation from Guinness.
“When he turned 20 years old, everyone’s reaction was ‘Wow!’ My friends and family thought he was the oldest dog they knew about,” she says.
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The miniature dog is said to be in great health despite a heart condition. The average life span of a Chihuahua is 12 to 18 years, so what’s the secret to a dog’s long life? According to Gisela, it’s all about a healthy diet and a balance of sleep and activity.
“He does a lot of sleeping but other than that, he’s doing pretty great!” she says.
“The thought that my little guy has reached such a milestone is fantastic! I'm thrilled,” she added.
Other dogs to have held the prestigious title include the late Pusuke – a Japanese Shiba mix who died in 2011 at the mind-boggling age of 26 years old, for which the human equivalent would be between 117 and 185 years.
However, the title of the oldest dog ever recorded by Guinness belongs to an Australian cattle dog named Bluey, who died in 1939 at the grand old age of 29.
Sources: The New York Post, People.com, Daily Mail