Canine commuters in Skagway, Alaska, win fans all over
Video of dogs hopping aboard their own bus and taking their seats goes viral
They may be the internet's most famous bus riders this week — and they're dogs.
A minute-long video posted to TikTok, showing a bunch of canine commuters all being very good dogs as they hop aboard their own special bus and claim their seats, has so far racked up about 50 million views and counting.
It's "really captured the hearts of a lot of people," said Mo Thompson, who made the video with her husband Lee in Skagway, Alaska. The two operate a dog-walking and pet-training business in the remote coastal community.
The dog bus is a real thing, and not just an internet skit. Every weekday, the Thompsons drive around Skagway picking up their furry charges to take them out on adventures.
"We specialize in off-leash group socialization. We do trail manners, puppy socialization, take them out for hikes," Mo said.
The viral video, taken from inside the bus, shows a dog — Jake — bound up to the door and happily amble on board. He greets the photographer, stumpy tail wagging, before going to claim his seat and get buckled in. A half-dozen other dogs are chilling in the other seats.
A few more are picked up — including Amaro, seen waiting patiently on his front yard before hopping aboard — and soon the bus is nearly full. It may be the only commuter bus in North America where no passengers gaze at a phone.
Mo has been running the dog-walking business for a while. Initially, she'd use her bike to go around town collecting the handful of mutts she'd look after. Once some puppies were added to the mix, she traded the bike for her minivan.
That didn't go so well.
"I learned if you use your vehicle as a dog-walking vehicle, it just gets trashed. It smells like wet dog and dog farts," she said.
Then last year she found a nice bus for a good deal. Internet fame was just around the corner.
When the pandemic hit, Lee lost his job and so he had started to help his wife out with the dogs. Often that involved taking photos or shooting video to post online, for the dog owners to see what their rascals had been up to on their hikes.
"I would get behind on my time actually, talking to the owners about everything. So it was just a lot easier to be like, 'Yeah, just follow along, I'll make sure I post,'" Mo said.
They typically walk about 20 to 40 dogs per day, but in groups of no more than 12 or so at a time. The dogs all have assigned seats on the bus.
The Thompsons — both "goofballs," Mo says — started to have fun with their videos. One showed Mo walking down the aisle of the bus handing out snacks like a flight attendant. Another had Lee acting like a regular transit bus driver before the camera pans to show the seats full of dogs.
"People just lost it over that one," Mo said.
Their videos started racking up thousands of views and they were gaining more and more followers. When one video hit 50,000 views, the Thompsons were floored. But the numbers kept climbing — 100,000 views, then 300,000, then 8 million...
Now their biggest viral video — created because fans were asking to see the dogs get on board — is "mind-blowing," Mo says. She's been fielding calls this week from the likes of CNN and NBC.
"So it's really spread further than just Skagway," she said.
With files from Dave White