Bosco the Dog Mayor
Bosco Ramos has been dead since 1994, but Sunol, California still misses their dog mayor. Bosco was elected to that honorary title of the small, unincorporated town in 1981.
Bosco was a mix of black Labrador and Rottweiler, ostensibly the Stillman family pet, but ultimately a classic town mascot. He would hang out in front of the local bar, mooching treats from friends and visitors. If bar patrons were plastered, Bosco was known to accompany each on a sobering stroll along the railroad tracks.
In 1981, in an election hatched by locals as a joke, Bosco Ramos ran against two human candidates for the mayoral slot, and beat both. He became known as America's first dog mayor. He led the annual Halloween parade, and could often be seen at Sunol events and social gatherings in his formal tuxedo.
Between official functions, the mayor had "free run of the town," and apparently had a plan to increase his constituency. "He's the father of a lot of little black puppies around Sunol," one local told us.
The Dog Mayor saw Sunol through the big fire of December 1987, when downtown essentially incinerated. The 125-year old Lyon's Brewery and other buildings were destroyed. As firefighters fought the blaze, Bosco sat out in front on his rug, "looking sad," according to one witness.
"A Symbol of Democracy and Freedom"
In 1989, Bosco's fame ignited internationally after a Chinese Communist newspaper, the Peoples Daily, proclaimed his election was proof that democratic elections don't work. In the wake of Tianamen Square, Bosco was an invited, high profile participant in a 30-hour pro-democracy rally in front of the Chinese consulate in San Francisco. He was "a symbol of democracy and freedom," said Sunol resident Solveig Shearer.
Bosco died peacefully in his sleep in 1994; a few days earlier, he'd been driven around town to survey his domain one last time.
The Dog That Pees Beer
Though no animal (or human) filled the vacancy, Sunol wasn't ready to forget their leader -- though the town is split on the degree of reverence required. A restaurant calling itself Bosco's Bones and Brew opened in 1999 featuring a specially engineered, Bosco-like stuffed dead dog behind the bar.
The dog pees!
The bartender lifts the dog's left rear leg to draw a pint of beer. Bosco's Bones & Brew is under new ownership, but the dog is still tapped and sampled daily. When we visited, bartender Michelle coaxed the dead dog into streaming Michelob Dark.
Bosco the Dog Mayor Statue
A more loving tribute was unveiled on December 19, 2008, a bronze statue of Bosco next to the post office, under the town clock. Lena Toritch, a Russian artist living in Salt Lake City, was selected by the town to create the sculpture. Her bronze of Bosco features his signature kerchief and lolling tongue, ready for a treat or a good luck rub.
Video: Sunol Remembers Mayor Bosco