SUNOL, Calif. — The mayor of this unincorporated community ended his weeklong unexplained absence on Saturday, returning home with tail wagging and stick in mouth.
Mayor Bosco had eluded an extensive search that included the posting of "wanted posters" in the Sunol area, 45 miles east of San Francisco, asking people to keep an eye out for "our friend and leader."
The 70-pound black Labrador retriever, who triumphed over two human candidates in the Alameda County community's last "mayoral" vote eight years ago, had lost his collar and some weight since disappearing. But otherwise he was his old self.
"He just came cruisin' on home carrying a stick," said a relieved Tom Stillman, who looks after the mayor. "He's a fetch-happy dog."
The case of the missing mayor drew national attention after the Stillmans and concerned constituents in the town of 400 sought help in locating him. Based on other incidents during the Bosco administration, however, there was little doubt he would return once he tired of life on the road.
A year ago, according to Stillman, an unidentified person in nearby Fremont locked the wandering dog in a garage. A burst of publicity about his absence led to the dog being let off on Sunol's main street the day after Thanksgiving.
Journeyed to Oregon
On other occasions, he has run off with female friends and even journeyed to Oregon after falling asleep in the back of a pickup truck owned by one of Stillman's friends.
Stillman was still worried enough to spend countless hours during the last week driving around looking for Bosco and checking out tips called in by helpful residents. His honor didn't turn out to be easy to spot, despite his local fame.
"Nothing really panned out," Stillman said. "There are a lot of black dogs. . . . I have no idea where he was."
When the skinnier Bosco trotted up to the Stillmans' house, he was wearing two flea collars someone had put on him. He had more than play on his mind.
"He just kind of looked at his dog dish and said 'Feed me,' " Stillman said.