Things That Matter

The Oldest Dog in the World Is a 21-Year-Old Chihuahua Named TobyKeith

There are very few things in life more rewarding than taking care of a pet. They provide comfort, shower us with love, and teach us how to be better people. We want our furry friends to live forever, but that’s just not how it goes. However, the world may have found one exception in TobyKeith, a 21-year-old chihuahua who lives in Greenacres, Florida with his owner, Grisela Shore.

Shore, a 54-year-old who emigrated from Cuba with her family when she was just five, first met the young pup when an elderly couple reached out to Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League, a non-profit in West Palm Beach, FL. to give him away.

In an interview with TODAY, Shore explains, “The woman told me that she was in very bad health and she just couldn’t take care of the puppy. Her husband had just been diagnosed with cancer. She was too overwhelmed. She had the puppy in a box and he was itty-bitty, maybe 2 pounds max. After hearing her story, I said, ‘OK, I’ll take him.’ So I took him — and it was love at first sight.”

Since then, Gisela and TobyKeith have been inseparable, sticking together through thick and thin. The chihuahua has apparently been very welcoming to the 150 or so pets that Shore has fostered over the last couple of decades, and has been by her side through a divorce and a new marriage. “I call him my bodyguard. He’s always with me,” she said.

Instagram, @gisishore

For his 21st birthday, TobyKeith celebrated with his favorite snack (a carrot muffin), a bath, a pedicure, and a car ride. “He loves car rides, so that’s how he celebrated,” Shore said. Another celebration took place just a few months later when Guinness came to deliver TobyKeith his award for being the oldest living dog in the world. “Even my family’s shocked at how physically, he looks great,” she said. “He looks like maybe a 10-year-old dog.”

TobyKeith isn’t the only senior dog Shore has taken care of — she also housed a cockapoo named Lucy who lived to be 18. So, the real question is, what’s her secret? How does she manage to take care of these dogs so well that they live up to two times longer than average? Well, pretty much what you would expect: diet, exercise, genetics, love, and just a bit of luck.

The young-at-heart chihuahua gets a helping of prescription kibble from Hill’s Science Diet, topped with a vegetable puree. Shore also doesn’t allow TobyKeith to free feed, which is the practice of pouring a large amount of food for pets to graze on throughout the day. And, of course, regular visits to the vet and — in TobyKeith’s case — medication for his heart disease that helps manage it.

More than anything, Shore hopes that TobyKeith’s story will inspire others to adopt or foster shelter dogs, which have a bad reputation with some people as being unhealthy or inherently sickly. “If people are going to talk about TobyKeith, I hope it could get someone to look into adopting — or look at their dogs and say, ‘Gosh, my dog is maybe a little overweight and I need to get them on a diet and the right type of food so they do live a little longer,” she said.

Rich Anderson, the CEO of Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League, agrees. “We’re excited that TobyKeith is bringing more attention to rescue animals that are in shelters needing new homes,” he said in his interview with TODAY. “TobyKeith has turned out to be one heck of a spokesperson for all the shelter animals around the country.”

The organization currently has over 1,000 volunteer fosters who help over 7,000 homeless pets per year. “TobyKeith truly does reflect the importance of foster homes,” Anderson said. “We only have so much space in shelters to care for lost and abandoned animals, and fosters allow us to expand our impact and save more lives.”

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