By SHELLEY GRIESHOP
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,
“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
“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.”