Unofficial ‘World’s Oldest Dog’ Dies After Long, Beautiful Life (VIDEO)

Uncle ChiChiSince when do canines earn an obituary in the nation's most venerable newspaper? The New York Times' tribute to a dog named Uncle Chichi is about the passing of the "world's oldest living dog." Well, sort of.

Cheech -- as he was affectionately known to owners Frank Pavich and Janet Puhalovic -- was somewhere between 24 and 26, but the toy poodle wasn't in the Guinness Book of World Records because his puppy pictures and veterinarian records had been "lost to the ages" before the couple were able to get him in there. As a journalist, I know the details were necessary to the report. As a dog owner, I hardly think they matter.

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Adopted 24 years ago by Pavich, he was a shelter dog from Charleston, South Carolina who came with an unknown background. That means he already came out of the starting gate with slightly worse odds than his fellow canines. But despite those odds, he made it for those 24 years (plus the estimated one or two that he was on earth before his forever friend rescued him), traveling the world, fetching, and barking! We should only be so lucky to get our furry companions for that long!

When you get to the point where you have a dog who has been alive at least 24 years, you are allowed to say that "almost" very definitely counts. The median life expectancy of a dog is said to be about 12.8 years. Smaller dogs get an edge, especially when their owners take care to control their weight. But we're still not talking two decades plus.

That's unheard of. That's remarkable -- even if it's not record breaking!

Even with an estimated age, Uncle Chichi was in a very rare club. There was Guinness’s official oldest living dog, a 26-year-old Japanese mutt named Pusuke who died in December. And every once in awhile, you'll see an ooooold dog pop up on the morning shows (where Cheech got his 15 minutes a few years back too). But how many dogs do you know who make it that far?

Few enough that I'm going to chalk Uncle Chichi up there as one of the coolest dogs to ever live ... even if he wasn't the oldest. Check him out in action back in 2010 when he starred on Good Morning America:

 

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Isn't this story remarkable? Do you think it matters that he wasn't definitively THE oldest dog?

 

Image via ABC

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