Thursday’s Washingtonian of the Day was Tillie the dog, who helped rescuers find her canine pal.
Thursday’s Washingtonian of the Day has four legs and a coat of red fur.
Tillie, the dog who stood guard and helped rescuers find her canine friend Phoebe in a cistern on Vashon Island after the two went missing in mid-September, was presented the honor by Gov. Jay Inslee.
Phoebe is always the more rambunctious one, her basset-hound nose low to the ground, seeking adventures among the island’s landscapes, according to BJ Duft, the 51-year-old business owner who owns both dogs.
Tillie, an Irish setter-spaniel mix, plays the homebody, rarely leaving their property without Phoebe, Duft said. When the pair wandered off last month and went missing for about a week, Tillie tried to alert nearby homeowners that Phoebe was in the cistern in a ravine by running out and then running back to the cistern.
Eventually, someone called in a Tillie sighting to Vashon Island Pet Protectors, an all-volunteer organization.
Amy Carey, who works with Vashon Island Pet Protectors, responded to the call. She didn’t know what she’d find. After all, dogs have been discovered dead in cisterns before, she said.
But Carey said after walking through the ravine, she called for the dogs and heard a lone woof — and saw Tillie.
“She was lying down, pressed as tightly as you could get to the cistern,” Carey said.
Phoebe was stranded on some rubble a few feet down in the cistern — too far for a basset hound’s stubby legs to find a way out.
The dogs’ unexpected adventure is leading newer — hopefully safer — adventures.
To prep for their time with Inslee, Tillie and Phoebe visited the groomers for a shampoo and trim. Before wandering into the governor’s office lobby, with its serious-looking collection of portraits of past state leaders, they got to walk around Capitol Lake.
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During the ceremony, Inslee had Tillie sit next to him as he urged “everyone in Washington to celebrate the bravery and loyalty of this canine companion.” Along with a written proclamation came a Washington apple pin on a ribbon that was tied around Tillie’s neck.
Inslee has given out about 70 Washingtonian of the Day certificates since taking office, said spokeswoman Jaime Smith. It’s an informal way for the governor to recognize those who have inspired him.
Back on Vashon, the dogs could be contenders in the island’s unofficial mayor’s race next year, Duft said, and a Japanese magazine is planning an interview with the dogs by someone who claims to be able to communicate with them.
“Like a dog talker,” Duft said, adding later: “So we might find out some more revealing truths of what really did happen.”