After her friend, Phoebe, fell into a cistern that was too deep — by Basset hound standards — to jump out of, an old Irish setter mix named Tillie stayed by her side for an entire week.
The two dogs had wandered from their home in Vashon, Washington, on Sept. 7 during a party.
Their owner, B.J. Duft, suspects Phoebe, picking up the scent of something, led the way.
“Tillie would never leave even if the gate was left open, but she’s best friends with Phoebe, and so when Phoebe follows her little Basset Hound nose, Tillie always goes with her to make sure she’s OK,” Duft said. “They’re best pals — inseparable.”
In the week that followed, Tillie proved that beyond any doubt — leaving Phoebe’s side only briefly, and apparently only to scout around to find some help.
The duo was eventually tracked down by Amy Carey, a volunteer with Vashon Island Pet Protectors, an animal rescue group that runs a no-kill shelter in the area.
Carey said the organization, after posting about the missing dogs on its Facebook page, got a call Monday from a resident who had seen a dog come to the edge of his property several times during the previous week.
Carey went to the area to investigate and found Tillie standing guard over Phoebe, KING5 reported.
“It was very clear what Tillie had done,” Carey said. “She had not left her friend’s side except for going up to the man’s house when he was there to try and get help for Phoebe.”
Duft and the dogs had a tearful reunion shortly thereafter.
“I was thrilled,” he told ABC News. “I was absolutely not surprised to learn that Tillie had stood by her side the whole time. She’s a very caring, loving and nurturing dog and the two of them are best friends.”
Duft said he has had Tillie, now 11, since she was a puppy. He adopted Phoebe, 4, about two years ago after the two became friends at doggie daycare.
The dogs were hungry and exhausted but otherwise in good health.
Duft said he fed them both a “hamburger dinner,” and let them fall back into their routines.
“Within an hour of getting home, Tillie already wanted to play with her favorite toy — the tennis ball — so we did just that,” Duft said. “The two also hung out on the couch and got some well-needed sleep.”
(Photos by Amy Carey, Vashon Island Pet Protectors)