Hamish Kennedy has no doubt that Cadbury the chocolate Labrador is the oldest dog of his kind in the country, maybe even the world.
He also has no doubt that neither of them should be alive – but they have a relationship that meant they needed each other to pull through.
Now, at age 19, Cadbury might have lost the best of his vision, as well as suffering from dementia, but he still has the loving personality that shines through.
Cadbury came into Hamish’s life 10 years ago when someone dropped him off saying she could no longer look after the dog.
“In those days I drank a lot and I didn’t look after him but our relationship became a codependency that worked. Because I shouldn’t be alive either.”
It was only recently that Hamish started looking after himself better.
For much of the last decade he was overweight and in a wheelchair, suffering from a disorder that affected his mobility.
Cadbury was in a similar situation.
They both needed to get healthier and lose weight.
“I decided that we were going to do it together.”
Now, thanks to a rigid work out regimen and improved diet, they have both lost a third of their body weight.
Hamish doesn’t need a wheelchair anymore and Cadbury is spritely for a 19-year-old chocolate Labrador.
The dog has had the same vet for his whole life, who vouches for his age.
Some studies have shown median lifespan for chocolate Labradors is just 10.7 years, 1.4 years shorter than black or yellow Labradors.
But Cadbury’s age means that his mind is failing him.
It is only in the past week that Hamish has ever been away from him as Cadbury would get anxious and bark whenever he was out of sight.
Last week, Hamish took him to Sunday Hole up the Maitai and watched as Cadbury barked into the air.
“It was almost like he was lamenting his lost youth.”
But he has never had any aggression from other dogs.
Hamish thinks its because they can sense his age and respect it.
He says Cadbury is a loving dog. He is one that takes up most of the bed, snores something terrible, and will always know how to wake up his owner – by putting his wet nose into Hamish’s ear.
He isn’t sure how much longer Cadbury will live for.
The oldest labradors that ever have lived carried on until they were 23.
Hamish doesn’t think his old friend will last that long but doesn’t mind if he does.
“For me it’s a duty of care. It’s something I signed up to. I really feel like he was a gift to me so it’s my duty now.”
This weekend, Hamish will take Cadbury up the Maitai Valley and celebrate a life well lived with some close friends.
They will have a barbeque.
“And Cadbury can eat whatever he bloody well likes.
- Hamish wanted to thank all the people who helped him get healthy and give Cadbury the support he needed including the staff at Cityfitness, his trainer Esther Schuckard and the team at Too Many Puppies, who have helped walk and look after Cadbury.