SUNOL, Calif. -- The 1,000 residents of Sunol have their mayor back -- Bosco, a duly-elected, 70-pound black Labrador retreiver, simply ambled back into town during the weekend after being missing for a week.
Bosco, who eight years ago defeated two human candidates in the first election for mayor of the unincorporated East San Francisco Bay Area town, was welcomed home with a treat of beef jerky served by his owner and administrative aide, Tom Stillman.
On Saturday, Stillman got a telephone call from Addie Roberts, proprietor of the Old Town House cafe, who told him, 'Bosco was coming down the road!'
'I just opened the door to the house and he was there with a stick in his mouth, ready to play catch,' Stillman said.
Except for being hungry ('He just kind of looked at his dog dish and said, 'Feed Me,'') and sporting two new flea collars he wasn't wearing when he vanished last week, Bosco was fine, Stillman said.
'There's something mysterious about the whole thing,' Bart Stillman, Tom's father, said as he replaced the collars with a red bow tie. 'I think whoever took him must have seen all the publicity and let him go. I mean, he's the mayor of Sunol.'
Most -- but not all -- of the townspeople participated in the search and distributed 'missing' posters. The two people who Bosco defeated in the election, Bart Stillman's wife Pat said, 'were such sore losers they wouldn't even help look for him.'
Bosco was the first mayor elected in Sunol, 45 miles east of San Francisco. Stillman entered his dog, then a one-year-old pup, as an Independent candidate and Bosco defeated thetwo human candidates.
Ever since, the mayor has patrolled all the bars in town -- his favorite food is beef jerky -- and makes residents feel safe and secure, they say.
'He's the spirit of the community,' Virginia McCullough says.
If the mayor simply took a good-will trip to outlying communities, it wouldn't be without precedent.
Last Thanksgiving, Bosco was missing for a few days and finally turned up in a garage in nearby Fremont. Another time, Bosco fell asleep in the back of a pickup truck and ended up in Oregon.
The mayor was supposed to show up for a television interview last Monday and then somebody realized nobody had seen him since Saturday, Nov. 21.
As Bosco romped in Stillman's yard, he did what any savvy politician would do after being absent without leave for a week. He had no comment.
As for added security, Stillman said 'I can't keep him tied up. He's the mayor and he's got the run of the town.'