Trapped dog rescued after best friend keeps watch over her for five days

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Two dogs who had been missing a week were discovered in a heartwarming situation: Tillie, an Irish setter spaniel mix, had been keeping watch over Phoebe, a basset hound, after she fell in a cistern. (Amy Carey/Vashon Island Pet Protector/ABC News)

A week ago, Tillie and Phoebe were two missing dogs, but their story has a heartwarming ending that shows the power of friendship extends beyond just humans. Not only were they found, but it was discovered that Phoebe had gotten stuck in a cistern, and Tillie had watched over her the whole time.

"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," owner B.J. Duft told ABC News.

Duft said he's had Tillie, an 11-year-old Irish setter spaniel mix, since she was a puppy and adopted Phoebe, a 4-year-old basset hound, after the two hit it off at doggie daycare.

"They're best pals -- inseparable," he said.

The dogs got out of their Vashon, Wash. home earlier this month when Duft was hosting a company party and the door was left ajar, he said. He believes Tillie left because Phoebe did.

"When Phoebe follows her little Basset Hound nose, Tillie always goes with her to make sure she's OK," he said.

Things looked grim by the five day mark. Vashon Island Pet Protectors, a nonprofit pet rescue, posted a desperate plea to Facebook to get the word out that the dogs were missing.

On Monday they got the call they had been waiting for. A dog matching Tillie's description had been regularly coming into a community member's yard, Pet Protectors wrote on Facebook.

"So with a needle in the haystack hope we made our way into the ravine and after a bit of searching, finally heard that sweet sound we have been waiting for all week. A small one-woof response when we called out 'Tillie,'" they posted.

It turned out Phoebe had gotten stuck in a cistern that was too tall for her to escape, but Tillie took care of her.

"For nearly a week Tillie stayed by her side with the exception of the few minutes of each day when she went for help," the post read.

The dogs were hungry and tired when they were discovered, but now they're back at home and doing well. As a result of their adventure, Duft told ABC News he's giving the dogs some GPS collars ... and a whole lot of loving.

"Their 'punishment' was extra hamburger and a roast when they got home because I was so thrilled to see them," he said.
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