PUPPY LOVE: This little Maltese terrier, Zac, is 20 years old and although he's getting on a bit he still means the world to 75-year-old Patricia.
PUPPY LOVE: This little Maltese terrier, Zac, is 20 years old and although he's getting on a bit he still means the world to 75-year-old Patricia.

Is this the oldest dog on the Sunshine Coast?

THIS is a story of survival and mutual love. It's the story of Zac, a little Maltese terrier who came into the life of Patricia Adams 17 years ago when he was just three--scared, filthy and about to be put down.

He was so tiny, staff at the council pound called him Zac (see Footnote) because he reminded them of a sixpence. Fast forward to today and it is clear Zac is worth his weight in gold to 75-year-old Patricia, of Peregian Springs.

So what's so special about survivor Zac? Well, he's 20 years of age which makes him probably the oldest Maltese terrier (the oldest dog?) on the Coast.

Maltese terriers have a life span of 12-15 years and with Zac still being around at 20 it's quite an achievement. His age in human terms is nudging 100. He's lost most of his teeth, is blind in his right eye and a bit arthritic but he loves a walk, especially in the cooler weather.

He also has a special diet of boiled chicken and mashed pumpkin--two bowls a day. "He's a good eater," Patricia told Seniors when we called to hear Zac's story.

"I was living in Sydney in 1999 when I saw his photo in the Daily Telegraph. He had been to three families and they had rejected him. I was told I was his last chance.

"He was filthy and a funny caramel colour. It took me a month of washing him every week to find out he was absolutely white.

"He also had a completely mad look in his eyes. He was terrified of my father and brother. It was obvious he had been terribly badly treated."

Patricia said it took her 18 months of love and spoiling and lots of medical attention to get him to being "near reasonable."

"He's still a bit nervous around men but he's a good watchdog, barking when someone comes to the door."

Zac's vet, Dr Alice O'Hare, of Peregian Springs Vet Surgery, describes him as "a walking miracle, so tough and so stoic.

"His story is one of resilience and of the commitment Patricia has to him, with her attention to his diet and persistence to ensure he gets the care and medication he needs.

"One advantage our older senior pets have, when their health care needs get more complicated, is that, as vets, we have the whole medical record and knowledge of the patient at the one location.

"Zac is strong. He has dental issues we need to carefully address, he has skin issues that are settled and is now running around with a renewed strength!

"I think the Sunshine Coast and being surrounded by family has been the perfect remedy for him."

Footnote for Senior readers who may be too young to remember: Pre the introduction of decimal currency in 1966, a zac was a colloquialism for a sixpenny piece. Today's equivalent is the five cent coin. 

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