Tillman, the English bulldog who in 2009 set a Guinness World Record as the fastest skateboarding canine and starred in videos that demonstrated his four-wheeled prowess, has died in Southern California at age 10, his owner said on Thursday.
Tillman, who suffered from an irregular heartbeat, died on Tuesday night after lapsing into a sudden bout of laboured panting, according to his owner, Ron Davis.
Davis, who lives in the coastal town of Oxnard just northwest of Los Angeles, said he rushed Tillman to a veterinary hospital and performed cardiovascular resuscitation in a failed attempt to revive his beloved pet.
“He was my best friend, my brother and my shadow, and when it was show time, it was amazing. He made millions and millions of people smile throughout the world,” Davis said of his pooch. “He was a little 60-pound (27.2 kg) butterball of inspiration for a lot of people.”
Tillman gained legions of fans with his appearance in a 2007 YouTube video that showed him pushing his skateboard with his paws and riding around a concrete path at a beachside park, tilting his body to steer.
The video has been seen more than 20 million times on YouTube and was featured in an early commercial for Apple Inc’s iPhone to demonstrate the video-playing abilities of the device.
Recognized for his light brown coat, white face and white chest, Tillman also appeared in the Hallmark channel's reality television series Who Let the Dogs Out.
In 2009, Tillman’s talents landed him a Guinness World Record as the fastest skateboarding dog after he rolled across 100 meters (yards) in 19.678 seconds at the X Games in Los Angeles.
Tillman’s Guinness World Record was narrowly eclipsed in 2013 by a dog named Jumpy who posted a time of 19.65 seconds.
Davis said that as part of Super Bowl festivities in Phoenix earlier this year he had Tillman try to reclaim his record, but rainfall made the rubber-like surface chosen for the event too slow.
Tillman, aside from skateboarding, enjoyed snowboarding, surfing and riding in his special seat in an all-terrain vehicle, Davis said.
Davis said he never managed to teach Tillman traditional canine tricks such as to roll over or beg, but the English bulldog took naturally to skateboarding. Even so, it took hundreds of hours of training for him to master it, Davis said.