Sunday, November 1, 2009

Eric Shackle's Column

Every dog hath his day__ (English proverb)

Widespread confusion identifying world's oldest pooch

Editors of two of Britain's national newspapers must have very short memories. Five weeks ago the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph splashed a story about a lovable "terrier-mix" dog named Max celebrating his 26th birthday in New Iberia, Louisiana, USA.

"World's Oldest Dog Turns 26," London's Daily Telegraph reported in huge headlines on August 10. But by September 11, having conveniently forgotten about Max, it gleefully ran a story about a 20-year-old pooch in Shropshire, with the headline Dachshund from Shrewsbury 'may be world's oldest dog'.

The rival Daily Mail also ran two conflicting stories: Max the terrier becomes 'world's oldest dog' as he celebrates 26th birthday was the headline on August 11 (click to see some great photos)

By September 11 the Mail too had dismissed Max, boldly (and wrongly) claiming that Otto the 147-year-old British Dachshund is the world's oldest dog. (The147 years was based on the mistaken belief that each year in a dog's life equals seven human years, and that Otto is now 21).
The story about Otto was originally posted in his hometown newspaper, the Shropshire Star, on September 9 under the modest heading Could elderly Otto hold world record?

The two national sheets apparently made no attempt to check the facts, but pumped hot air into the story and told their myriad readers that the comparatively young Otto was indeed a world champ.
In America, the global news organization United Press International (UPI) based in Washington DC (motto: One hundred years of journaalistic excellence) compounded the error by picking up the Daily Mail's Shrewsbury story and posting it in its "Odd News" section, (second item) without checking the facts.

Media around the world (hundreds of them) blithely copied the UPI story without checking its accuracy. A typical example was the Karachi, Pakistan newspaper and online website The Nation,

Back in the Unites States, Danny Tyree wrote in the Marshall County Tribune, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania: "While folks argue whether Chanel (a 21-year-old dachshund who passed away in August) was really the world's oldest dog, a famous cartoon pooch will turn 40 on Sept. 13.

"Yes, Scooby-Doo and his Mystery Inc. chums (Fred, Daphne, Velma, and Shaggy) are celebrating their 40th anniversary and still going strong in the 'solving supernatural crimes' biz."

Steve Fritz has written an entertaining, nostalgic story in Newsarama  about the cartoon canine, "the true top dog of animation, a crime-solving man’s-best-friend whose fumbling and meddling has debunked ghost chasers, would-be werewolves and wannabe-witches since he took his first bow on the small screen back on Sept. 13, 1969. Generations of fans know this Great Dane of Saturday morning memories as Scooby Doo."
Scooby-Doo is undoubtedly The World's Best-Known Dog. But for real-life pooches, our money goes on Max as the World's Oldest Dog. He's the max!

* You can see a video of Max and his owner HERE:
Posted by ERIC SHACKLE at 6:59 PM, Friday, September 11, 2009, in his blog, "LifeBeginsAt80"

Click on By Eric Shackle  for author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

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