‘The puppy bus just took off,’ said Mo Thompson, who runs a dog walking business in Skagway, Alaska.
By Sydney Page
January 10, 2023 at 6:00 a.m. EST
Amaru, a 5-year-old rescue dog, waits patiently on his family’s front lawn in Skagway, Alaska, watching for the bus to arrive each morning.
“He got used to sitting in that spot. He even looks in the direction he knows they’re going to come,” said his dad, Gary Hisman — who typically does yard work while Amaru awaits his daily transport. “He’s a very smart guy.”
Amaru, along with about 40 other dogs, is part of a play group organized by Mo Mountain Mutts — a local dog walking and training business, run by husband-and-wife duo, Mo and Lee Thompson.
The Thompsons lead off-leash pack walks up to three times a day, but what has captured the attention of people worldwide are hilarious videos showing how they collect their canine clients: A recent TikTok video of several dogs confidently boarding the bus on their own with big wagging tails was viewed more than 50 million times.
It documents the Thompsons’ regular pickup routine. At one point, the minibus stops in front of Amaru’s home, where he is seated in the front yard — clearly expecting them. From inside the bus, the Thompsons open the doors for the pup, and he happily leaps in.
Once entering the bus, the dogs typically sniff around and greet the other canine passengers, before climbing onto their assigned seat — which the Thompsons have trained them to do. Then, their harness gets secured, and the same process is repeated as the rest of the pack, about 12 dogs, is picked up.
The seats are carefully selected based on factors such as a pup’s personality, age and manners. Most dogs head directly to their designated seat without being guided.
“Specific areas of the bus are better suited to the dogs,” Mo, 31, explained, adding that senior dogs tend to be assigned seats closer to the front, while rowdier youngsters ride in what she calls the “licky puppy corner,” because they tend to lick each other for most of the journey.
When the dogs board the bus, Mo does a small obedience drill, and passes out treats to reward good behavior. Once they’re settled and buckled in, Mo said, “they have to stay on their seats” — just like humans — while being transported to the trailhead.