(DOGS) Tillman, an English bulldog, has made a name for himself by doing what he loves– skateboarding. He holds the world record as the fastest skateboarding canine. And this extreme sports dog has also mastered skimboarding, surfing and snowboarding. With over 3,000 Facebook fans, the talented Tillman’s is one popular pup. – Global Animal
The Dallas Morning News, Darla Atlas
It’s an early morning for the star’s entourage.
The six-person crew is up and ready to start before 6 a.m. on Monday. But guess who gets to sleep in? The famous one, of course. He’s still in the hotel room, snoring, grunting and slobbering away.
His name is Tillman, and he’s a bulldog. A very famous bulldog, having amassed more than 40 million hits on YouTube, starred in an iPhone commercial and become the darling of the Rose Parade, among other appearances. His latest gig, sponsored by Natural Balance pet foods, is to tour the country to promote baseball’s Bark in the Park days.
This week, Tillman and his humans (along with fellow bulldogs Rose, Sully and Lyle, who also skateboard) are spending time in the Dallas area and will attend the Rangers’ Dog Day game on Sunday.
“They love Texas,” says Tillman’s owner, Ron Davis, who also trains Rose and Sully for Natural Balance. “They have a king-size bed with air conditioning.”
But it’s soon time to wake up the star and hit the road; he’s scheduled to show off his stuff on the set of Good Day on KDFW-TV (Channel 4).
Outside the Arlington hotel, an RV is plastered with huge photos of Tillman and his accomplishments: “Guinness World Record – Fastest Skateboarding Dog,” it announces.
Davis, who lives in Venice, Calif., didn’t set out to own the fastest skateboarding dog. He was in the construction business. But when 5-year-old Tillman was a tiny puppy, “he was just obsessed with the skateboard,” Davis recalls.
“So I started practicing with him every day, and he’d push and push. I realized: ‘Oh, my God. He has the potential to become a skateboarding dog.’ So I started spending a lot of time with him, and it was amazing. He blew my mind away.”
One day, as Tillman was showing off at a local skate event, he caught the attention of the iPhone folks “and it just exploded,” Davis says. “June of 2007 was when he went to rock-dog status.”
The other three dogs along for the tour aren’t there quite yet. Lyle’s owner and trainer, Lexi Beermann, knows her pooch has a way to go before he can perform on cue like Tillman.
“He always does a good job,” she says. “Somehow, he just knows.”
Well, sure; that’s what makes him a star. On the drive to the studio, Davis worries whether the area where Tillman will skate will be wide enough.
They soon arrive in downtown Dallas to give it a shot.
“Big city lights, guys!” Davis says to the dogs as they pile out of the vehicle. “Start singing Journey songs.”
All four dogs are brought in and dressed up in Rangers shirts. Rose also sports a pretty pink tutu. When Davis pulls out a skateboard, they all begin barking with excitement, which is a bit of a problem during filming of a live show. And since the focus is on Tillman, the other three will wait in the wings.
Davis pulls a Rangers T-shirt over Tillman’s belly and asks a rather impolite question, especially of a star: “Have you put on weight? Is this an extra-large?”
“He’s going hot in three minutes,” the producer says. Tillman pants.
“I’m just concerned about him running into that door,” Davis says. It’s clear that all of Tillman’s humans are stressed out at the moment. But it’s showtime.
Tillman takes off with two left paws on the board, the two right ones pushing hard. He’s rolling, he’s going fast – and he’s smashing into the door.
But Tillman is a slobbering mass of grace under pressure. Just before time runs out on the live shoot, Tillman tries again and coasts like a pro.
“He’s got the competitive fire!” anchor Dan Godwin says. “Here he goes, all four paws!”
As they load up the van, Davis checks Tillman’s schedule.
Next stop: Flag Pole Hill for another TV gig. But a change in plans means the dogs get to just hang out and play.
His handlers check their phones to rearrange his too-hectic schedule the next day. They pour Tillman some water, ask him to rest in the air-conditioned minivan. Finally, he’s allowed to do what he loves best.
Tillman takes off down a hill, jumps on his board and sways side to side so he can pick up a little more speed. His big ol’ tongue hangs out in excitement.
Later, the glare of the cameras and the autograph hounds will resume. But for now, Tillman is just the best skateboard-riding bulldog in the world, living the dream.
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