When California resident Alex Wolf went with his college roommates to adopt a dog from a shelter two decades ago, he had no idea that the little dog would still be his pet over half his life later — let alone be named the “oldest dog living” by Guinness World Records.
But that’s exactly what happened last week.
“He’s been there every step of the way,” Wolf, 40, tells TODAY.com. “I’m so glad we got him. He’s the best.”
Born Sept. 24, 2000, Gino was a 2-year-old shelter dog named Pee Wee at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley when Wolf was a sophomore at the University of Colorado Boulder in 2002. He’d assumed they were going to adopt a big dog, but his two roommates were sure the 16-pound pooch was the one.
They renamed him Gino and brought him home, where the independent dog fit right in with the household of skateboarders and snowboarders. He enjoyed racing around in the snow in the backyard and hanging out under the coffee table to be in the middle of the action whenever guests stopped by.
“If we were having a later night, he would stay up, and if I was sleeping in, he would sleep in,” Wolf says. “He was one of the guys.”
During summer vacation, Wolf brought his dog home to Southern California to live with his parents while he finished his studies, because it seemed like “the more responsible thing to do at that point.” There, Gino learned to love sunbathing outside and living like a celebrity.
“When he was younger, he used to love exploring my parents’ huge backyard with our other dogs in Manhattan Beach, going on walks off the leash in Venice, going on drives along the coast blasting music with his head out the window, or running around on the golf course in La Quinta,” Wolf says.
After Wolf graduated from college, Gino saw him through major life transitions, like moving into an apartment, becoming a realtor, buying a house, and — just before the pandemic — meeting his girlfriend, Rebecca Grenell, who dotes on Gino.
“He makes us laugh every day,” Wolf says.
Gino’s self-confidence still shines through today as it did decades ago, according to Wolf.
“He always loved being in the big dog park instead of the small dog park. Big dogs would follow him around like he was their fearless leader, and that made Gino proud,” he said. “He always had ‘B.D.E.’ — big dog energy.”
These days, Gino prefers activities like naps by the fire, snacking on salmon treats, and rides around the neighborhood in a wagon, since his eyesight isn’t what it used to be. In fact, Wolf celebrated Gino’s Guinness World Record with an extra-long wagon ride.
Wolf credits Gino’s longevity to a healthy diet with human-grade food, veterinary care and ongoing support from family and friends — but mainly, Gino himself.
“I give him all the credit,” he said. “He’s gotten a lot of love, and I think he’s just a strong dog.”
Wolf hopes to use Gino’s status as the “oldest dog living” as a platform to raise money and awareness for pet adoption and animal activism, and he has already reached out to local nonprofits to explore options.
“That would be a very nice and fitting legacy for him to leave the world with,” he says.
He’s also hoping the joy his dog has brought him over two decades inspires others to share his unwavering conviction that pets are for life. His advice to anyone considering bringing a pet home is to fully commit to their care for their entire lifetime.
“You’ve got to be there for the long haul, no matter how long it is,” he said. “That’s the responsibility you take on — and it’s 1000% worth it.”