In 2006, a Jack Russell named Ratty became a celebrity when his owner Gary Kay revealed how the dog would jump on the Number 10 bus in North Yorkshire by himself, to visit his favourite pub.
Twice a week Ratty would trot out alone through the farm gates where he lived before catching the bus and travelling the 3 miles to join the locals in The Black Bull.
The five-year-old dog would stay all day at the pub in York, where he had his own water dish and a regular supply of sausages. At closing time he would get a lift home with one of the barmaids.
Mr Kay had owned Ratty since he was just eight weeks old and used him to control rats on the farm, hence his name.
“Everyone loves him,” said Mr Kay, 41, from Dunning-ton.
Mr Kay believed Ratty’s first visit to the pub was more likely an accident: “The bus stop is just along the road and he must have just happened to come across a bus,” he said. “He ended up getting on and then getting off when everybody else did – which was when it hit York – and just walked straight into a pub.”
Apparently everyone made such a fuss over him he just kept on coming back.
Mr Kay told The Mail that on Ratty’s first visit, one of the patrons realised the dog belonged to him so he received the call to come pick him up.
As the dog’s solo trips to the pub came more and more frequent however, one of the barmaids that lived nearby would bring him back when she finished her shift.
Mr Kay would still have to collect his dog sometimes. “I would get a call every now and again to come and get him,” he said. “I suppose that must have been when the barmaid wasn’t on – and I would just pull up outside the pub and he would run out and jump in. I must have had to go and get him about 20 times.”
Ratty’s adventures on the number 10 bus and his love of the local pub caught the attention of the media at the time, with the dog featuring in newspapers, magazines and even on a Japanese TV show.
Unfortunately, at the height of his fame a change of ownership at The Black Bull saw a new policy that banned animals from the pub.
Unperturbed, the crafty canine started catching the bus to the nearby Rose and Crown instead, where he was welcomed regularly by the delighted owner.
Ratty was also seen riding the school bus from time to time. Mr Kay said: “I’ve had kids phoning me to say Ratty was on the bus with them. I’ve no idea how he gets home – he drives me mad.”
Peter Edwards, commercial director for the bus company First, said: “I’ve heard of dogs waiting for people to get off buses but nothing like this. We don’t charge for dogs so there’s no reason why he can’t get on.”
As Ratty’s antics occurred nearly a decade ago now, there is a rather upsetting end to this story unfortunately.
In 2010 the Jack Russel was hit by a speeding driver just yards from where he would hop on the bus.
The driver didn’t stop, however horrified onlookers reported that the vehicle was travelling at what must have been close to 70 miles per hour in a 30 zone.
Ratty was laid to rest on his farm in a ceremony attended by Mr Kay and sons William, 13, Robert, 12, and Charlie, 8 – as well as two of the farmer’s other dogs.
“He was one in a million, a famous dog with bags of character,” Mr Kay said at the time.
“At the moment I just have a stone marking where he is buried but I’m planning a proper headstone or some sort of proper tribute to him, he was very special.”
He added: “He loved the Black Bull pub before it went upmarket and animals were banned. I would love it if they put up a picture of him or did something as a tribute – all the locals there knew him.”
If you are the landlord of the Black Bull and are reading this, we really hope a picture of Ratty is hanging on the walls to commemorate the dog that loved your pub so much.