He is sleeping soundly on the floor beside me. Occasionally
I hear him snoring loudly. Otherwise he is quiet.
We are the friends of Dudley whom we believe is
the oldest English Setter alive in the world today.
Dudley came into our family as a young puppy sometime
in 1989. This date is based on the birth of a niece
Nicole who is at the present age of fifteen plus years,
and my brother Saeed who is the same age.
Dudley was found originally by Nicole’s
father, Marty Bacci a construction foreman for Belrock
Construction (Canada). Marty had noticed this puppy
around the catering truck on daily basis over a period
of months. Although he felt a deep longing to bring
this cute puppy home, he dared not. One day his heart
broke and he arrived home not alone, but with a new
family member in the back of his blue GMC pick-up truck.
Sadly there was a concern of allergies to Nicole
aged 3- 6 months at the time. That is where Dudley came
to be in our family. Before Dudley came to us his name
was Shane, a name given to him by Marty’s wife.
From the time we met it was quite obvious that Dudley
had suffered some trauma in his unknown past. We realized
quickly that Dudley was afraid of loud noises and children
and even appeared to have a broken rib.
Over the years Dudley settled into the family
and became acquainted with our household, finally realizing
a family which he seemingly never had. Since the birth
of my own daughters Olivia and Robyn, Dudley has proven
to be a caring companion with a wonderful nature toward
children, but also a faithful friend. Until recently
Dudley lived in a suburb of Toronto known as Etobicoke
where he knew the streets like the back of his paw.
Circumstances change and so did the life of Dudley.
Surprising all, Dudley boarded KLM flight number 691
from Toronto and landed in Helsinki-Vantaa in September
2003. Throughout that flight, I sat in the cabin above
wondering how he was fairing below, imagining every
terrible scenario as the miles passed below us . There
was no better feeling when I saw him again. He stepped
out of his cage, tired and weary to breath the fresh
air and mark his new home. We were overjoyed that day
and called Dudley’s friend and my father Tony
who was by then in Sri Lanka and confirm his safe arrival.
You see, Tony was in Toronto and saw Dudley’s
kennel board the flight. He fought back tears as he
filled Dudley’s water bowl for what he thought
was the very last time and was convinced that Dudley
due to his age would never survive the long flight over
the Atlantic, nevertheless as cargo. Yet, we were more
than elated that Dudley met the challenge and is still
thriving in Finland.
In the time that Dudley has been with us, which
is most of his life, he has not suffered any illness
nor disease. Today you will find Dudley frequently acting
like a puppy 99 years his junior. Dudley has represented
the meaning of gentleness, and unconditional love. Nowhere
have I seen that gentle character in man or animal that
I have seen in him. Just to look into his eyes and you’ll
see it too. With regards to his longevity and health,
we wish that man can only follow his example by some
grace or circumstance.