When so much of the news highlights tragedy and suffering, stories that have happy endings like Tillie and Phoebe’s bring much needed smiles to our faces. A month ago, the two dogs went missing. They were found a long, heart-wrenching week later as Tillie alerted owner B.J. Duft to the fact that Phoebe, a basset hound, couldn’t climb out of an old cistern. Tillie, an eleven year old Irish setter-spaniel mix, only left trapped Phoebe’s side for a few minutes at a time to try to get help. Now Washington Governor Jay Inslee has given brave Tillie the “Washingtonian of the Day” award.
Thursday, October 15, 2015 – Tillie sat proudly with tongue hanging out as the Governor spoke of her bravery and loyalty. A ribbon with a Washington apple pin was tied around her neck and a written proclamation ensures that her valiant rescue effort will not go unremembered. She is the only non-human to be named to the honor. Along with the award presentation, the canine friends also paid a visit to the governor’s office and enjoyed a stroll around Capitol Lake. Although she didn’t understand that she was one one of the few 70 recipients recognized by Governor Inslee, Tillie relished all of the attention.
Tillie has become an inspiration to the whole state, and a little bit of a local celebrity on Vashon. The two dogs may even run for mayor in the next informal mayoral race on the island. But right now, Tillie and her more energetic buddy Phoebe are enjoying lots of play time together. Duft has mended the fence hole that allowed their escape. And in order to avoid any possible repeat occurrence, he has fitted them with brand new GPS devices. Thankfully, they will not be needing the wonderful services of the VIPP volunteers again.
Tillie and Pheobe’s story is better than a movie – because it happened in real life. Our canine friends can teach us many lessons about love and true friendship. There is no doubt that Tillie would have continued her rescue efforts as long as it took. She was absolutely committed to the welfare of her friend. She knew that she was Phoebe’s only chance of help. Yet it was hard for her to leave her friend’s side. When they were rescued Tillie was pressed to the ground, as close to Pheobe as she could be. Tillie and Phoebe truly are best buds. Tillie’s unselfish actions towards her friend came as second nature. If only it were the same with us! Still, as Governor Inslee said, we can be inspired by their story.
Awards are nice. But after all, Tillie didn’t need recognition. She already has what she wanted, her friend back safely with her.