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The Straits Times: Meet Singapore’s oldest pets, including 19-year-old dog Oreo

Oreo (left) with his owner, psychologist Lanurse Chen and CC (right), a 16-year-old cat. PHOTOS: MARZEL PHOTOGRAPHY, FAITH THE

SINGAPORE – One of the greatest tragedies of pet ownership is knowing that you will, in all probability, outlive your pet.


But for some fur parents here, their pets have displayed surprising longevity, with several dogs and cats, and even a rabbit, outlasting their life expectancy.


None is as senior as the world’s oldest dog, Bobi, a rafeiro do alentejo from Portugal which turned 31 in May. However, a handful of pets here have passed their 15th birthdays, to the delight – and sometimes disbelief – of their owners.


Oreo, a 19-year-old dog, lives in a condo in Bedok with his owner, psychologist Lanurse Chen. He is a cross between a maltese and a cairn terrier, and the two breeds are said to have a lifespan of 12 to 15 years.


Ms Chen got Oreo as a puppy in 2004, when she started her postgraduate studies in Melbourne.


The 43-year-old described the moment she first laid eyes on Oreo at a pet shop: “It was feeding time and the other puppies squeezed him out from getting to the food bowl. I picked him up to have a closer look, and we connected immediately.”


Oreo has been her companion since, and waits at the door for her when she returns home. During her university days, he kept her company and gave her warmth while she stayed up writing her thesis.


Ms Chen, now married with two children aged eight and 11, adds: “Looking back, he has always been that constant, loyal figure in my life as I moved through different stages, from being a student to a working adult and into motherhood.”


Oreo, a 19-year-old dog, has always been a constant, loyal figure in the life of his owner, MsLanurse Chen. PHOTO: MARZEL PHOTOGRAPHY


When Oreo was younger, he loved running in the park and playing tug of war. Now that he is older, he suffers from stiff joints and weak legs, and cannot walk by himself.


To move around the house, he relies on a four-wheel pet wheelchair. Even with its help, he needs his limbs and spine massaged regularly to get around.


As his hearing, vision and sense of smell are failing, he needs food and water to be brought to his mouth. Oreo also has a cocktail of medication fed to him every morning and night.


Dr Kelly Yeo, 35, Oreo’s regular vet, says the dog has kidney failure and is on palliative care. “Every four to six weeks, we make sure his kidneys are under control, and check his body for pressure sores and stiff joints, and massage these areas to alleviate soreness,” she adds.


Taking care of Oreo requires heavy commitment, as he requires nearly 24-hour care and is dependent on people to feed, clean and care for him, says the veterinary surgeon at The Gentle Vet in Katong.


Given that Oreo also has dementia, he will bark or whine when he needs something, and this means Ms Chen and her family do not get much sleep on some nights.


“Oreo’s carers need to be well rested so they can continue providing a good level of care, so we check in regularly with Lanurse to see how she is coping and if she herself is getting enough help and rest,” says Dr Yeo.


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