Irish farm dog Skippy lives in Co Mayo with his owner Pat Geraghty and is believed to be 26 years old, nearly double the average lifespan of a Border Collie.
"Skippy was born in 1996!" Fergus Sweeney said on Twitter this week when he shared a picture, taken in September, of his neighbor Geraghty and his dog Skippy.
This is my neighbor Pat and his dog Skippy.— Fergus Sweeney (@FergusMaSuibhne) February 14, 2022
Skippy was born in 1996! Yes 1996. pic.twitter.com/ga06AncoFS
Sweeney's tweet, which has been liked more than 12,000 times since he shared it on Monday, has drawn lots of reactions online. While plenty of people enjoyed the sweet picture, some people claimed that there was no way Skippy could be 26 years old, as the average life span of a Border Collie is roughly 12 - 15 years.
The Guinness World Records says that the oldest dog ever was Bluey, a female Australian cattle dog who lived to be 29 years and five days old. However, in 2016, a Kelpie named Maggie passed away in Australia; her owners claim she was 30 years old.
Geraghty, 84, told the Irish Mirror that he got Skippy from Joe Dean, a Belmullet-based dog breeder, in the summer of 1995 and has raised him ever since.
Sweeney did acknowledge on Twitter that there are no official papers for Skippy, but he did point to a neighbor who remembers Skippy chasing his car about 20 years ago.
Closest I can verify is a neighbour who remembers Skippy chasing his car when he moved into the area some 20 years ago. Skippy was a chaser . That picture is from September 2021. This was him this morning pic.twitter.com/Jms0GDB8UL— Fergus Sweeney (@FergusMaSuibhne) February 15, 202
Geraghty's nephew Pearce Prior, who remembers Skippy as a small puppy during his visits to Mayo in the 1990s, also told the Irish Mirror that he broke his toe around the same time his uncle first got Skippy and that he would be able to confirm the date that happened from records in Mayo General Hospital.
Prior also told The Western People: “I started looking in the Guinness Book of Records and the oldest living dog that they know about is aged 21 in Japan.
“If you included Skippy now, he would be seventh in the all-time list of oldest dogs."
Geraghty said that Skippy, who sleeps outside in a shed in a bed of straw, is well looked after and enjoys scraps - with gravy! - from Geraghty's meals. The Border Collie served as a farm dog up until about two years ago when his mobility began to reduce.
“We’re good buddies," Geraghty told the Irish Mirror. “It’s my turn to look after him now, you know.
“He’s been good to me when he’s had his health but he’s down and out now and I have to give him water four times a day and feed him three times a day - but I don’t mind.”