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23rd Oct 2023

Bobi, the world’s oldest dog, dies five months after celebrating 31st birthday

Steve Hopkins

‘What an amazing life you had’

The oldest dog in the world, a farm dog named Bobi, has died just months after celebrating his 31st birthday.

Bobi, who was awarded the Guinness World Record title in February replacing a chihuahua living in Ohio in the USA which had previously regarded as the record-holder, spent his last birthday on 11 May at the Portuguese family-run farm where he spent his entire life.

The owner of a Lisbon-based pet photography studio revealed the news of Bobi’s passing overnight on social media, writing: “Rest in peace friend.

“Thank you for having had the privilege of meeting you, the oldest dog in the world.”

The post concluded: “What an amazing life you had.

Bobi’s owner Leonel Costa is yet to comment on his passing.

Bobi, a purebred Rafeiro do Alentejo, a Portuguese breed of livestock guardian dog, was also recorded as the world’s oldest dog ever with the previous record being held by an Australian cattle dog who died in 1939 aged 29 years and five months. Dogs typically live for 10-13 years.

Bobi’s age had been verified by his vet and a pet database authorised by the Portuguese government.

In 1992, Bobi was registered with the Veterinary Medical Service of the Municipality of Leiria. The organisation confirmed Bobi’s birth date. Bobi’s age has been verified by SIAC, a pet database authorised by the Portuguese government and managed by the National Union of Veterinarians.

More than 100 people attended Bobi’s 31st birthday in the village of Conqueiros in Portugal’s Leiria district where local meat and fish was served, even to Bobi, who only eats human food.

Leonel Costa, now 38, was only eight when his beloved pet was born in an outhouse where his family stored wood.

He said when Bobi turned 31: “Bobi has been a warrior for all these years, only he knows how he’s been holding on, it must not be easy because the average dog’s life span is not that high and if he spoke only he could explain this success.

“We are very happy and grateful to life for allowing us, after 30 years, to have Bobi in our daily lives.”

Bobi, despite his age, was healthy at 30 and still enjoyed playing with the family’s four cars.

See also: Britain’s ugliest dog crowned as judges claim they’ve discovered ‘a star’

When Bobi was born his family had tried to get rid of him, Leonel explained when Bobi was awarded the world record.

“Unfortunately, at that time it was considered normal by older people who could not have more animals at home […] to bury the animals in a hole so that they would not survive,” Leonel explained.

But the day after the puppies were born, Leonel’s parents entered the room and quickly took them whilst the dogs mother, Gira, was absent.

However, in their haste, they didn’t realise that they’d left one behind.

Leonel recalls that he and his brothers were very sad over the following days, however, they noticed that Gira continued to visit the outbuilding where her puppies were born.

“We found the situation strange, because if the animals were no longer there, why would she go there?!”

After following Gira, they discovered Bobi, who had escaped the fate of his siblings as he hidden amongst the wood.

Leonel and his brothers decided to keep Bobi’s existence a secret.

“We knew that when the dog opened its eyes, my parents would no longer bury it,” Leonel explained.

“It was popular knowledge that this act could not or should be done.”

It usually takes one to two weeks for newborn puppies to open their eyes for the first time; they can only do so once their central nervous system has developed and their eyes have fully formed.

When Leonel’s parents eventually discovered Bobi, it was too late – the young pup had already opened his eyes – and he was now part of the family.

“I confess that when they found out that we already knew, they screamed a lot and punished us, but it was worth it and for a good reason!”

“If Bobi spoke only he could explain this,” Leonel said when discussing reasons for Bobi’s longevity.

Leonel thinks that one of the biggest contributing factors is the “calm, peaceful environment” Bobi lives in, “far from the cities.”

Bobi has never been chained up nor attached to a leash, and has always enjoyed free roam of the forests and farmland surrounding the Costa family house.

Leonel describes Bobi as “very sociable” as he grew up with many other animals.

Bobi is less adventurous now in his old age; walking is difficult so he mostly spends his time hanging out in the backyard with his four feline friends.

Bobi’s eyesight has worsened too; Leonel often notices him colliding with obstacles when he walks.

As for his diet, Bobi has always eaten “human food.”

“What we ate, they ate too,” Leonel said.

He believes that this has contributed greatly to Bobi’s longevity.

“Between a can of animal food or a piece of meat, Bobi doesn’t hesitate and chooses our food.”

Bobi has enjoyed a relatively trouble-free life, although he gave Leonel “one big scare” in 2018 when he was hospitalised after suddenly collapsing due to breathing difficulty.

Fortunately, Bobi managed to pull through. “We have regular [vet] appointments with him and the exams have always shown that he is doing well for his advanced age,” Leonel revealed.

Leonel never considered that Bobi might be the world’s oldest dog until recently. In fact, when he sent in Bobi’s application for the title of oldest dog living, he didn’t even realise that Bobi would also be the oldest dog ever.

“I never thought of registering Bobi to break the record because fortunately our animals have always lasted for many years,” he explained.

Leonel said that Bobi’s mother, Gira, lived to the age of 18, and another one of their dogs, Chicote, lived to be 22.

“We see situations like this as a normal result of the life that they have, but Bobi is one of a kind.”

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