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The Daily



12-06-03: Doggone it — another year older


The pretty, sandy-haired blonde looked content as she stretched out across the floor, her eyes closed tightly as she slept.
You’d sleep away most of the day, too, if you were about to celebrate your 96th birthday.
Sheba, a mixed-breed sheltie who will turn 18 human years Sunday, may likely be the oldest licensed dog in Mercer County. The comparison of dog years to human years depends on the weight of the dog, Dr. Dan Hellwarth of Coldwater Animal Clinic said. He estimated an 18-year-old Sheltie weighing between 21 and 50 pounds would be 96 in dog years.
At Sheba’s age, she’s not quite the energetic puppy she used to be, said Dave Jacobs of Celina, the dog’s caretaker. The pet actually belongs to Jacobs’ mother, Nellie Jacobs.
“Does she do tricks? Waking up in the morning each day is probably her biggest trick,” Jacobs said with a smile.
After an intense search through records at the auditor’s office at the county courthouse, only one other dog came in as a close contender — Barney, a mixed rat terrier from Mendon who also marks 18 human years on Jan. 4.
A third licensed canine, a Jack Russell terrier and a member of the Tom Post family of Fort Recovery “is likely at least 18,” said his owners, but they could not verify the dog’s actual birthday.
The oldest dog that ever lived was an Australian cattle dog named Bluey who gave his last bark after 29 years and 5 months of faithful service as a cattle and sheephand in the outback, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
Sheba’s life may not be as doggone exciting as ‘ole Bluey’s, but as a pup she earned her keep, too. For years, she greeted customers at the family-owned business, Jacob’s Jewelry, on Main Street in Celina.
With a wagging tail and friendly sniff, Sheba made friends easily with customers as they browsed the glass display cases, Jacobs said.
“She’s a friendly dog, but she’s had problems lately with her back legs and doesn’t venture out much from the back room anymore,” he added.
Barney, on the other hand, is still going strong, said his best friend/owner Arlene Franck. The short-haired black and white terrier has to be on his “paws” because he shares the home with three other dogs.
“He’s really an amazing dog. He was abused as a puppy and that’s why we got him. My heart went out to him and I just had to take him home,” Franck said.
A few years ago, Barney was shot in the leg and underwent surgery. He now suffers from periodic seizures and has cataracts in his eyes, but still provides that unconditional love animals characteristically give humans, she said.
“Of course now his favorite thing is to lay in front of the heater on his blanket,” she said, as Barney positioned himself there on cue. “Unless of course, he hears his dog food being opened.”
There appears to be no secret to doggy longevity, the pet owners say. Although, the good life with frequent naps and excess petting seems to be consistent at the homes of all the elderly pups.
“Yeah, I spoil him, but I love him and hope he sticks around here a whole lot longer,” said Franck, as the four-legged animal stuck his cold, black nose on her cheek then settled back down on his quilted blanket. “You gotta love ‘em.”


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