Tillie, an Irish setter-spaniel mix and her best friend Phoebe a basset hound had gone out for a walk together in their neighborhood on the island of Vashon, Washington. When they didn't come home that afternoon, their worried owner began looking for them, but couldn't find them anywhere.
He got in touch with Amy Carey, a volunteer with Vashon Island Pet Protectors, for some help. They searched the area for any sign of the two missing dogs day after day, but to no avail.
There was no way that anyone could have known that Phoebe had fallen into a cistern located deep in an isolated ravine a few miles away from home, and she wasn't able to climb back out.
Poor Phoebe would most certainly have died before anyone found her had it not been for what Tillie did next.
"We had been out looking for about a week when we heard from a farmer here who noticed a reddish dog on his property," said Carey. "She had quietly approached him, and when she got his attention, turned around and headed back toward this ravine nearby. I decided to go check it out."
That is when Carey saw a sight that she'll never forget.
"When I got there and looked down, Tillie saw me but didn't come running up," said Carey. "She just stayed near the edge of this cistern, pressed with her head as close as she could get. Had she run up, we might have never realized that Phoebe was down there. She just stayed put, making it so clear that I had to come to her so I would see her friend."
And sure enough, there was poor Phoebe, worn out from her long ordeal.
"When I saw what was happening, tears were immediate. It was just so touching," she added.
Even though Tillie could have wandered off and made her way back home, she seemed to understand that if she'd done that, Phoebe might never have been rescued.
So, instead she stayed with her trapped friend, outside, for an entire week, probably making excursions into the surrounding areas hoping to find someone that would follow her back to the place where her friend was.
"We didn't know where they were going to be," said Carey. "They were miles away from the place they had been seen before. It was Tillie going very pointedly up to this person in their pasture, letting herself be seen and running back to Phoebe - that's why we found them. It's really amazing."
Unbelievably, both of the dogs were in good health. They weren't dehydrated thanks to a showering of rains that had fallen over the week that they were missing. And they didn't need words to express how excited and thrilled they were to have been found at last.
"Once they got out, they were happy as clams. Tillie was so relieved. When the owner came to get them, they heard his voice in the distance, you could just see their relief. They just started wiggling," said Carey.
"It was very touching, but in a way not surprising given what we know about dogs as loyal friends. We were just so very grateful to find them safe."
Take a look at the video below:
And because of her steadfast loyalty and amazing courage, Tillie was awarded the Washingtonian Of The Day honor by the Governor of Washington!
Watch as Tillie is given her award in the video below:
Good for you Tillie! You're one AMAZING pooch and your friend Phoebe is lucky to have you as a friend!
So glad that these two adorable friends were found alive and well! Such a wonderful ending to a story that could have had a very different result!
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