Friday feeling? Family dog sets off on solo early morning adventure - including a bus trip to the city
IT sounds like a tall tail but a family dog set off on an adventure and independently caught a bus headed for the city.
Bobby fancied a day in town and boarded a Bus Éireann coach bound for Limerick on Thursday morning, unknown to the driver, but to the delight of fellow passengers, many of whom were on their way to school.
The Labrador/spaniel cross got on the bus at Kilcoolan Cross near Ballyneety, some 10km outside Limerick city.
His owner only became aware of his whereabouts when he received a call from Bus Éireann informing him his pet was at the station in Limerick.
Bobby, a rescue dog, had been left out at his home in Ballyneety earlier that morning to do his business.
"He sleeps in the house and he woke me at around 4.30am on Thursday, scratching the door and looking to get out," said Jim Phelan, Bobby’s owner.
"I let him out, he came back again and then he started the same thing at around 5am and I let him out and said, ‘off you go now, I’m going back to bed’."
Mr Phelan fell back to sleep and knew no more until the phone rang at around 8.45am.
"A woman asked me did I own a black dog and I said I did, thinking he might be about half a mile up the road or something," added the grandfather of three, who is a member of the security staff at the University of Limerick.
"The bus driver came on the phone then and told me that an elderly lady had got on the bus near Ballyneety and a black dog must have sneaked on behind her.
"It was the local bus from Caherconlish to Limerick, taking children to secondary school as well. Of course the children were stone mad about him.
"The bus driver, a lovely man, very kindly held onto him."
Luckily, Bobby wears a disc on his collar that bears his owner’s telephone number so they were able to contact him quickly.
Mr Phelan was delighted to be reunited with Bobby, who has been part of the family for the past six and a half, since the cheeky mutt caught the eye of his daughter, Aimee, at the Limerick pound.
"He has very high energy and is an extremely intelligent dog. He knows what you’re talking about, he knows feeding time and he knows walking time.
"He absolutely adores my wife.
"We walk him a lot, at least four miles a day, and we’re delighted because he gets us out exercising."
A spokesperson for Bus Éireann confirmed a small dog had entered a bus at Ballyneety at around 8am on Thursday, without being seen by the driver.
On arrival in Limerick, after all passengers had alighted, the driver noticed the dog on the bus.
"The dog had a collar with name and number, and our driver contacted the owner who came to collect the dog straight away.
"The four-legged passenger was most passive, and we were happy to re-unite him with his owner," she added.
But Mr Phelan is baffled as to what prompted Bobby to board the bus.
"Whether he was running away or hoping to get a connecting train, I don’t know.
"I think he might have been watching the ad for Bus Éireann with the Irish setter and thought, ‘I could do better than that’," he said.