Apparently born in 1988, Uno’s owners says the elderly pooch often acts “like a puppy”

By Pearl Chen
Updated January 19, 2010 12:45 PM
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Uno the cocker spaniel has spotted something good to eat. “When he smells the food we’re bringing home, he bounds up and down and runs like he’s crazy,” says his owner Cherie Gigliotti of Sherman Oaks, Calif. “It’s so fast you can’t catch him. Both paws are up in the air. To watch him it’s hysterical.”

This isn’t news to anybody who has a “food-motivated” dog, but Uno isn’t just any other young, spry thing. He’s believed to be 22, which makes him a year older than the oldest living canine on record at the 2010 Guinness Book of World Records (a 21-year-old Dachshund mix named Chanel). And while he lacks birth records validated by the American Kennel Club, Uno’s unofficial title as the world’s oldest dog is turning heads. For a cocker spaniel who would be about 110 to 154 years old in human years, Uno can still remarkably act “like a puppy.”

Uno was adopted by Gigliotti’s boyfriend, optometrist Norman Steinberg, in 1990 from two women in Valencia who couldn’t keep him because they were opening a day care. They claimed he was born on Jan. 1, 1988. Over the years, Uno has enjoyed a steady nutritious diet prepared by Gigliotti, who began caring for him in 2005. She grinds up Kibble and purees food like chicken breasts, broccoli, zucchini, sweet potatoes, carrots and ground turkey so that it’s “easier on his digestion.”

Another factor keeping Uno healthy: a built-in step-exercise regime from the three flights of stairs in their four-level townhouse. Every time Uno wants to use his “potty area” when he’s home alone, he must climb stairs. And while Steinberg and Gigliotti will carry him whenever possible if he has trouble, there are times when “he doesn’t wait for us and just goes” all the way up the roughly 49 steps himself.

Years of receiving loving care and living healthy life styles – plus some apparently excellent genes – have helped make Uno “very beefy, very muscular” even in his ripe old age, says Gigliotti. “I would not have predicted him doing this well this long … For a guy pushing 110, he’s phenomenal,” his vet, Dr. Robert Clipsham, tells the Los Angeles Daily News. Aside from a few health problems – loss of hearing one year ago and some joint/arthritis problems that Gigliotti says is alleviated by adding the powder Jointstrong in his food – Uno seems to be thriving. “He can see. His sense of smell is fine. He gets a renewed energy when he thinks about food.”

Most of all, Uno continues to bring immense joy to his owners. “When he sees you, his tail spins like a helicopter,” says Gigliotti. She and Steinberg only go on vacation to places where they can take him. “I don’t have children,” Gigliotti says. “He is my child.” Uno’s even led her into a new career: “I purchased Biju Pet Spa because of him. I was bringing him here to groom, and I was also making gourmet dog treats … until one day I was told Biju was up for sale. He’s changed my life.”