The Richmond Register

July 24, 2013

Tillie the ‘Indian Fort Dog’ passes away Tuesday

$2,500 needed to install plaque on college property

By Crystal Wylie
Register News Writer

BEREA — Wednesday morning, an announcement was posted on the official Tillie of Indian Fort Facebook page that the beloved dog passed away at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“Tillie of Indian Fort has left her tired, pain-filled old body behind,” it read. “She was lying on cool green grass, surrounded by loving family and friends. Her passing was quiet and peaceful.”

The post had received more than 300 likes, nearly 170 comments and 247 shares by 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Tillie made an impression on the many who visited the Indian Fort Mountain trails over the years as she could almost always be seen waiting at the bottom of the mountain to accompany hikers up the trail.

“My name is Tillie. I am not a stray. I live next door. Let’s go for a hike,” the tag on her collar said.

Ten years ago, Tillie found a home with Ron and Bhana Deaver, who reside on the edge of the Berea College forest next to Indian Fort Theater on KY 21. That’s when Tillie’s career began as the unofficial Pinnacle guide dog.

Bhana said Tillie hiked the mountain as often as 10 times a day and stayed loyal to whatever group she started out with.

In June, the Deavers announced Tillie had an invasive growth in the lining of her bladder. News of Tillie’s condition spread fast, and hikers began hitting the trails to catch a glimpse of the famous dog. A Lexington television news station aired a story about Tillie as well.

In the weeks following the announcement, Tillie continued to hike the trails with the help of a little pain medication.

People donated money to offset the 13-year-old’s vet bills and many had raised the question of a statue or plaque to honor Tillie’s legacy.

“We realize that different people grieve in different ways and we recognize the strong emotions felt by those who wish to celebrate Tillie’s life in a more visible, tangible way,” the Deavers wrote on Tillie’s Facebook page. “However, we ourselves do not feel up to the task of leading that particular effort.”

They went on to suggest that those who would like to spearhead the project create a Facebook page from which they can coordinate their campaign and to post their contact information on the Tillie of Indian Fort page directing others to the page.

Indian Fort Theater is owned by Berea College, which has certain policies in place for plaques installed on its property.

A 6-inch by 4-inch plaque can be ordered to commemorate Tillie in exchange for a $2,500 gift to Berea College for its campus beautification fund, according to Dorothy Ruble with college relations.

Ruble will work with whomever ends up leading the fundraising effort to determine wording for the plaque.

Donations must be sent to Berea College, CPO 2216, Berea, Ky 40404 with “Tillie fund” in the memo line.

If the full $2,500 is not raised, the money will go into the college’s scholarship fund, Ruble said.

Ruble agreed to notify the Richmond Register when the full amount has been raised.

Crystal Wylie can be reached at cwylie@richmondregister.com or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.