When Rita Kimball found Spike in the parking lot of a Camden, Ohio, USA, grocery store, she had no idea the little Chihuahua would still be her pet over 13 years later - let alone become the oldest dog living.
The record holding su-paw-star, who was 23 years and 7 days old as of 7 December 2022, stands at 9 inches (22.86 cm) tall and weighs just 12.9 pounds (5.85 kg).
Impressively, he was already 10 years old when Rita and her family found him.
“He had been shaved up his back, had blood stains around his neck from a chain or rope, and looked pretty rough,” said Rita.
“The clerk in the grocery told us he had been there for three days, and they were feeding him scraps.”
Not knowing who Spike belonged to, Rita decided to take the pup home to join the rest of the herd on her small farm.
“When we left the store and entered the parking lot, he followed,” recalled Rita.
“We opened the car door to put our grandson in his car seat, and Spike jumped right in and sat on the seat, as if he knew where we was [sic] going. It was meant to be.”
Inspired by a cartoon dog that was known for its size and aggressive disposition, Rita named her new four-legged friend Spike.
“My dog seemed to be the opposite; he was small and friendly, so I thought it just seemed to fit him,” said Rita.
“Spike was a name for a large dog. My guy was small, but he had the attitude of a big dog.”
In fact, the only time Spike ever bears his infamous chihuahua personality is when he’s pet by a stranger.
“He is friendly but since he’s almost blind and hard of hearing, he gets testy at times and just wants to be left alone,” said Rita.
“In general, though, he was great with the grandkids and never bit a stranger. His little tail still wags when people talk to him.”
But what does it take for a canine to reach a staggering 23 years of age?
Well, for one, a solid routine.
Spike starts his day between 7:00 am and 7:30 am. Sometimes he’ll eat breakfast right away or at times he’ll fast for a bit.
On summer weekends, he takes walks with his beloved Rita in their rural hometown.
“He visits with the animals in the barn: cows, horses, and barn cats,” said Rita.
“If it’s a good day, he will chase a cat or two.”
But those larger than Spike are no longer intimidated by his antics.
“When he was younger, he tried intimidating the cows and horses by barking and trying to chase them,” said Rita.
“Now they just stare at him and don’t even move.”
After his morning stroll, Spike heads back to the house where he naps on the porch and prepares for the day ahead while Rita fixes herself a cup of coffee.
“There’s always something to do on a farm; we cut wood, clean out fence rows, bale hay and harvest crops,” said Rita.
“Spike has ridden on tractors, been a passenger inside the combine, and tags along when we cut wood.”
After a long week of farm work, Spike will usually relish in Saturday evening baths.
Occasionally, he has braunschweiger with cheese for dinner and sometimes indulges in his favourite chips.
"In his early years, he loved Doritos,” recalled Rita.
“He liked them crunched up and would eat the cheese Doritos every time we had them.”
Some of Spike’s other favourite pastimes are napping, playing cat and mouse with the housecat Foxxy, and hiding his toy fox around the house.
It was during an episode of Jimmy Fallon one evening where Rita heard the news of former oldest dog living Pebbles and realised that Spike was actually older.
“Most of our family knew that Spike was old but didn’t know he had a shot at being the oldest in the world,” said Rita.
“Now that he is a record holder, they see him as a celebrity.”
Rita advises those with fuzzy friends to give their pet a healthy diet, room to roam, daily exercise, and unlimited love and attention.
“I believe Spike is still here because after having such a terrible life at first, he makes the best of each day.” – Rita Kimball
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