THEY say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

But this terrier gave his owners a scare after performing a disappearing act – until a Southampton bus driver came to the rescue.

Pensioner Beryl Pritchard was walking her 16-year-old Border terrier, William, on Southampton Common when he wandered off.

William, who is deaf, walked dangerously into the path of oncoming traffic on Bassett Avenue as Beryl searched frantically for him.

Quick-thinking bus driver, Jamie McColl, 41, who had just parked up at a bus stop, spotted William looking distressed and got off to help him.

He tried calling the phone number on his collar, that of Beryl’s husband, Colin, but there was no answer.

So Jamie, who has been a driver for Uni Link since 2008, took the canine on board alongside his 15 passengers, who looked after William all the way to Southampton General Hospital.

“You could see the dog wasn’t vicious so I had no worries about taking him on board to keep him safe,” Jamie said.

“I explained what I was doing to the passengers and took the dog on board until we got to the hospital terminus.

“I phoned the number again when we got there and Mr Pritchard didn’t even realise he had gone missing.

“You don’t think twice about something like that. It was just an automatic response to keep the dog out of danger.

He could have been run over.”

But despite his ordeal, Jamie described William as the paw-fect passenger.

“A few other passengers got on board en route to the hospital so I had to explain what had happened. They just looked at me as if to say ‘whatever next!’ But William seemed to enjoy himself.

He was quite happy, quietly sat down letting the world go by. He didn’t make a fuss or bark. Not even a whimper.”

Around half an hour after picking up William, Jamie returned to Bassett Avenue to reunite the adventurous mutt with his grateful owners, who thanked Jamie with a bottle of wine.

University professor Colin hailed Jamie as “a hero”.

He said: “William was probably just trying to come home. We have lived on Bassett Avenue for more than 30 years so the Common is like a back garden to our dogs.

“Widget, our second dog, died a few months ago and Beryl was distraught thinking that we had lost William too.

“Luckily Jamie thought about the situation quickly. We think he’s a hero and are so very grateful for what he did.”