Was Bobi the World’s Oldest Dog—or a Fraud?

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“It is existent that I americium considered an master connected canine overgarment color,” Sheila Schmutz, an emeritus professor of animal and poultry subject astatine nan University of Saskatchewan successful Canada, told me. “At slightest successful position of genetics.” I sent Schmutz, who has published aggregate papers astir nan coats of dogs and cattle, a action of photos of Bobi taken successful 1999, 2016, and 2022, and asked her whether nan photos appeared to beryllium of nan aforesaid dog.

Schmutz wasn’t sure. In a fewer photos Bobi’s fur appeared to beryllium red, while successful different it looked for illustration he had a brownish coat. Brown and reddish coats, Schmutz assured me, are 2 very different colors. “I had my hubby look astatine nan photograph group excessively and he agrees that we tin understand why group don’t deliberation it’s nan aforesaid canine successful each nan photos, but it’s not perfectly clear to us,” she wrote. “Wish this were much clearcut …” she signed disconnected her email.

For certainty, I would person to look elsewhere, and truthful I turned to Karen Becker, a veterinarian and writer of The Forever Dog: Surprising New Science to Help Your Canine Companion Live Younger, Healthier, and Longer. In respective articles, Becker was credited arsenic nan personification who collapsed nan news of Bobi’s death, in a post connected her Facebook page. I sent Becker a connection done her website and waited for a response.

Becker, it turned out, was distant lecturing, but I did get a consequence from her administrative assistant, Dana Adams, who was not impressed pinch nan Guardian article casting uncertainty connected Bobi’s longevity. “So overmuch is incorrect,” Adams wrote. “Bobi ne'er ate earthy food, he only ate homemade cooked food, he’s a mutt not a purebred, and nan lobby statement waited until nan mediocre small guy’s cremation time to raise questions to Guinness astir further testing.”

Wait—what? A lobby organization? It was existent that nan GWR article astir Bobi, and tons of nan consequent property coverage, had picked up connected nan item that Bobi only ate “human food,” a facet that Bobi’s owner, Leonel Costa, cited arsenic a logic for his dog’s different longevity. (Costa did not respond to WIRED’s requests for comment.) But Adams’ reference to a lobby statement seemed to beryllium suggesting that location were acheronian forces down these doubts. I pressed her for much details.

“Well, those of america successful nan pet abstraction cognize it ne'er goes good erstwhile you frighten a multi-billion dollar empire,” Adams wrote to me. “The Guardian article made it clear this is astir nan concerns vets person if group do what Leonel did and provender a home-cooked fare … Bobi straight threatens this full industry.” Attached was a screenshot of nan world’s apical 10 pet nutrient manufacturers, arsenic classed by petfoodindustry.com. Topping nan database were Mars Petcare Inc., Nestlé Purina PetCare, and Hill’s Pet Nutrition.

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