Guinness World Records have crowned a 23-year-old chihuahua mix from rural Ohio as the oldest living dog, according to a Thursday press release — pretty extraordinary considering that chihuahuas typically live around 15-17 years.
The small-but-mighty Spike is 22 centimetres tall and weighs in at 5.85 kilograms, according to Guinness measurements, and his favourite hobbies include napping, hiding his toy fox around the house and playing with house cat Foxxy. He is almost blind and hard of hearing.
Spike’s owner, Rita Kimball, says she first discovered she may have a world record holder on her hands after watching an episode of Jimmy Fallon and hearing news of the former oldest dog, Pebbles.
Pebbles, a toy fox terrier from South Carolina, died last year at 22 years old, and Kimball realized that her Spike, at 23, was actually older.
“Most of our family knew that Spike was old but didn’t know he had a shot at being the oldest in the world,” Kimball said. “Now that he is a record holder, they see him as a celebrity.”
Kimball and Spike’s friendship began when she rescued him from a grocery store parking lot 13 years ago in Camden, Ohio.
“He had been shaved up his back, had blood stains around his neck from a chain or rope, and looked pretty rough,” Kimball said. “The clerk in the grocery told us he had been there for three days, and they were feeding him scraps.”
Kimball decided to take the pup home to her farm, or rather, Spike decided for them.
“When we left the store and entered the parking lot, he followed,” Kimball recalled. “We opened the car door to put our grandson in his car seat, and Spike jumped right in and sat on the seat as if he knew where we were going. It was meant to be.”
Spike was already 10 years old at that point, but he was given a whole new “leash” on life with Kimball. And he clearly took the forever part of “forever home” seriously.
First and foremost, Spike is a farm dog and has been known to hitch rides on tractors and combines. He also works to ensure the farm’s livestock are all in line.
“When he was younger, he tried intimidating the cows and horses by barking and trying to chase them,” Kimball said. “Now they just stare at him and don’t even move.”
Kimball says she named Spike after the aggressive bulldog from Tom and Jerry.
“My dog seemed to be the opposite; he was small and friendly, so I thought it just seemed to fit him,” Kimball explained. “Spike was a name for a large dog. My guy was small, but he had the attitude of a big dog.”
Kimball’s advice for helping your pets live a long life includes providing plenty of room to roam, unlimited love and attention and a healthy diet. She admits that in Spike’s “early years” he was especially fond of Doritos, but everyone needs a treat every now and then.
“He liked them crunched up and would eat the cheese Doritos every time we had them.”
Speaking on Spike’s longevity, Kimball said, “I believe Spike is still here because after having such a terrible life at first, he makes the best of each day.”