4-Legged Loyalty

A dog proves her friendship in a dramatic rescue

A loyal golden retriever, Tillie, stayed by her friend, Phoebe, a Bassett hound, for an entire week until she could lure someone to help retrieve the fallen dog from a cistern deep in the woods.


Worried pet owners in Vashon, Washington, contacted Vashon Island Pet Protectors in early September after Phoebe and Tillie disappeared, and the rescue group immediately jumped in to help with the search. Day after day they searched for the two friends, without result.

Then Amy Carey, a volunteer, spoke with a farmer who said he had noticed a dog on his property. Once the dog made eye contact with him, the man said, the animal simply turned and walked back into the woods.

Carey began scouting around the property. Sure enough, once deeper into the woods she saw a reddish dog that didn’t approach her, but stayed pointedly close to a cistern.

“When I got there and looked down, Tillie saw me but didn’t come running up,” Carey told animal website The Dodo. “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 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. When I saw what was happening, tears were immediate. It was just so touching.”

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“We didn’t know where they were going to be,” Carey said. “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.”

Related: Find That Lost Dog!

Without food and reliable water — Vashon Island Pet Protectors surmised they lived on rainwater — Tillie refused to leave her friend alone to perish, staying by Phoebe’s side.

Here are a few other miraculous dog stories that illustrate undying loyalty by these animals.

Dog Mourns Fallen Owner, a Navy Seal
At the funeral of Navy Seal Jon Tumilson in August 2011, his faithful companion Hawkeye, a Labrador, walked up the aisle at the beginning of his memorial service and lay down beneath his master’s casket.


The lab stayed in partnership with him for as long as he could.

Dog Stays by Masters’s Grave for Six Years
Shepard mix Capitán’s unyielding loyalty to his master, Miguel Guzmán, from Argentina, went beyond the grave as well. After his master died, Capitán went missing, but he was found several days later lying in the cemetery next to Guzmán’s resting place.

The remarkable part about this story is that Capitán had never been to the cemetery before. Miguel died in a hospital, and his body was taken to a funeral home far away from where he and the loyal dog had lived.

CapitanThe first time the funeral director saw Capitán, he walked into the cemetery, walked through the tombstones, and found his master’s grave on his own. Capitán continues to visit his old master every day, at 6p.m., like clockwork.

Said Cesar Millan of a dog’s loyal nature on his website,, “The friendship between man and dog has gone back thousands of years. Dogs didn’t become ‘man’s best friend’ for no reason. They give us unconditional love every day. My question is, Do we deserve it?”

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No wonder the movie “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey,” made such a splash when it came out (as did the book it was based on). In that tale, three pets — a bull terrier named Chance, a Siamese cat named Sassy and a Labrador named Shadow — traveled hundreds of miles across Canada to get home to their beloved humans.

In a key scene, older dog Shadow falls into a deep pit at a train yard. Looking up at his friends, he urges them to get on home without him, that he’s old and hurt and his chances look dim. “Leave me here,” he tells them. “You can do it.” His friends did not abandon him. All three made it home, over 300 miles, embodying an “all for one and one for all” commitment.

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