Sometimes, some of the best things in life don’t really last forever.
At the age of 26 years and 8 months (equivalent to about 125 human years according to the owner), Pusuke, a male, tan-colored, Shiba cross-breed died in Sakura (Tochigi prefecture) in Tokyo, Japan on Monday, December 5, 2011. He was once hailed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the ‘Oldest Living Dog in the World’.
According to the 42-year old owner, Yumiko Shinohara, Pusuke was eating well and stood healthy until that morning. He lost his appetite for breakfast and had difficulty in breathing. When Shinohara returned home from a walk, the dog had died in peace, probably around 1:30 PM. This may imply that Pusuke’s death was due to old age.
Pusuke was born in the house of a relative of Shinohara in March 1985, and was registered as a pet on April 1 in the same year. Guinness officially recognizes April 1, 1985 as his birthday. In 2008 however, he was involved in a serious accident. The dog was hit by a car and had injuries. Fortunately, the veterinarian helped save and prolong his life through successful surgery.
Later on in December 2010, Pusuke was officially recognized by Guinness Book of World Records as the ‘Oldest Living Dog in the World’. His age back then broke the record of another dog whose age is 21 years and 3 months.
At present, the dog who lived the longest in history is recognized by Guinness as Bluey, an Australian Cattle Dog. He died in 1939 at almost 29 and 1/2 years old.
Shinohara was very happy and proud of her companion, as she said “I was with Pusuke for 26 years and I felt as if he was my child. I thank him for living so long with me. I think (Pusuke) waited for me to come home.” The news about this Shiba mix quickly became a headline in Japan. It looks like Pusuke will be joining Hachiko, a very famous Akita in Japan, who also died of old age.
The story of Pusuke has some parallelism with that of Hachiko, who is no doubt the icon of dog loyalty not just in Japan, but also throughout the world as people hear his story. Hachiko was owned by a Japanese college professor who suddenly died in 1925. Because he did not understand this (and there is no way for people to explain it to him and make him understand), he waited for his master each day near the Shibuya train station in Tokyo. He eventually died after 9 years of devotion, patience and hope.
Sometimes, dogs like Pusuke and Hachiko exist to remind us the value of loyalty and obedience. They were canines who kept true to their promise of being their master’s companion for better or for worse, and have always waited for them. It also teaches us that if dogs can be as obedient as that, then so can we, as humans and as their masters.