By Catarina Demony and Miguel Pereira
CONQUEIROS, Portugal (Reuters) – When his dog was born three decades ago in a tiny village in central Portugal, Leonel Costa was only eight years old. Little did he know that his beloved Bobi would one day be recorded as the world’s oldest dog.
When Bobi, a purebred Rafeiro do Alentejo, celebrated its 30th birthday last year, Costa knew he had broken an almost century-old record held by an Australian cattle-dog that died at 29 years and five months in 1939.
Costa got in touch with the Guinness World of Records, submitted all the paperwork and a year later Bobi was officially named the oldest dog on record.
Bobi was 30 years and 269 days old as of Feb. 4.
“It’s a feeling of pride we can’t explain,” Costa, 38, told Reuters as he petted Bobi near a church in the village of Conqueiros in central Portugal.
“Some people told us we wouldn’t make it… but we knew Bobi’s age and were sure the exams would only prove what we already knew.”
The Guinness World of Records, which made the announcement on Thursday, described Bobi’s story as “miraculous”.
At the time Bobi was born, Costa’s family had many animals and little money so his father, a hunter, generally buried newborn puppies rather than keep them. But Bobi hid among a pile of firewood. Costa and his siblings found it a few days later and kept it a secret until the puppy opened its eyes.
“We knew that when he opened his eyes, my parents wouldn’t be able to bury him, ” he said.
Bobi’s breed usually has a life expectancy of 12 to 14 years and Costa attributed its longevity to a number of factors, including living in calm countryside, never having been chained or kept on a leash and always eating “human food”.
“Of course our love and affection throughout his life has also helped,” he said, giggling.
Although Bobi still loves walks, age is taking its toll: the dog is less adventurous, its fur is thinning, its eyesight has worsened and it needs to rest more than it used to.
Costa hopes Bobi has many more years of life and is thankful the dog has put the remote village of Conqueiros on the map.
“There were other animals here who lived long lives but Bobi surpassed everything.”
(Reporting by Catarina Demony and Miguel Pereira in Conqueiros; Editing by Frances Kerry)
It’s official – the oldest dog in the world is Bobi, a dachshund from Lubbock, Texas who recently celebrated his 21st birthday. That’s an impressive achievement in itself, but it’s even more remarkable when one takes into account that the average lifespan of a dachshund is between 11 and 16 years.
Bobi was born in June 1999 and has since seen eight U.S. presidents come and go, survived the 24-mile flight of a SpaceX Falcon rocket, and been witness to the rise of the Internet and the widespread embrace of social media. To put it in perspective – the oldest dog in the world had been roaming the earth for nearly four decades when Twitter was founded in 2006!
In a recent interview, Bobi’s long-time owners, Steven and Virginia Derfus, shared some of the secrets behind their beloved pet’s remarkable longevity. They fed him only the best kibble, took him on frequent walks during which he enjoyed long naps in the shade and visits to playgrounds to bark (or dig) at passing birds! They believe it is their constant love and care that has enabled Bobi to defy the odds and age gracefully.
The Derfus family is extremely proud of Bobi and his accomplishment of becoming the oldest pooch ever recorded. There’s no denying that appropriately caring for a pet can significantly extend its lifespan, but Bobi is truly an inspiration. We hope that his impressive paw-print serves as a guiding light to all fellow animal lovers on the importance of providing loving and kind environments to their beloved four-legged friends.