4 dogs boarded a bus in Skagway. The internet rejoiced.


Mo Mountain Mutts dogs have caused a stir before.

Not by howling or barking, but by warming the hearts of dog lovers around the world.

Mo Mountain Mutts, a dog walking business owned and operated by Skagway resident Mo Thompson, has produced several viral videos over the past year. But last month, a video of four dogs taken by the Puppy Bus became an undeniable sensation, garnering more than 48 million views on TikTok alone, not to mention other social media platforms.

Shot from the perspective of the bus driver, the video begins with a black and white German shorthand sign named Jake mingling, meeting Thompson, greeting a few canine friends and finding his seat before the trailer closes. Amaru, a malamute mix, waits alone in the snow when the bus arrives and quickly gets on and sits down. Bama, a black lab, will be taken and housed. Slade, young St. The Bernard mix looks the most excited, but settles down after a few licks.

The whole scene takes place in about a minute as a handful of dogs already on the bus anxiously await their friends and walking partners.

People connect with a business’s videos on many levels, Thompson said. But the latest one has taken on a life of its own, with celebrities like “Schitt’s Creek” actor Dan Levy sharing it on Instagram. Earlier this week, Thompson gave an interview to CNN.

One widely viewed version of the video features the Puppy Bus pickup: “What’s your dream job?” in response to his question. One Instagram user commented: “I can’t handle this. I’m going offline for the rest of 2023. You don’t need to see anything else for the rest of the year.”

“Someone has a lab or someone has an indicator and they say, ‘This looks like my dog, or it looks like their family’s dog,'” Thompson said. and then there are the super-specialists – all different shapes, sizes and ages. So I feel there is a dog to identify with (for everyone).

Dog boarding is pretty routine, Thompson said, and comes with a daily walk. “Why can’t high school teenagers even ride a bus?” asked a TikTok user.

“The regulars know how to dig,” he said. “They know that if they are calm and polite, they will be able to do what they want faster. So newbies, you can see older dogs basically rolling their eyes, “Come on, sit down so we can have our treat.” “

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Viewers of the videos also picked up on the dogs’ wide-ranging personalities. Some seem very businesslike, while others are more interesting and playful. Many of the dogs in the video bypassed Thompson to hang out with their friends.

“Some like to say hello to me, some don’t,” Thompson said with a laugh. “Some of them are like, ‘I’m here for the dogs and like, we don’t really care about you.’ “

The videos started organically for Thompson to share the dogs’ daily routine with their owners.

“I’ve been posting on Instagram and Facebook since the beginning because people are like, ‘Where did you go?’ Who was my dog ​​with? What did they do? How were they?” ” she said. “So if I just post a video of them on their hike and take a group photo at the destination, they’ll know where we’re going and what they’re doing. Instead of answering the same question… I just started using social media.”

Before the business took off and long before Mountain Mutts became a social media sensation, Thompson was at a crossroads. He initially decided to walk a group of dogs that he squeezed between two jobs. Eventually, he switched to the second group and continued to focus more on trail dog walking and puppy training, which is one of the specialties of the business. It started with mostly walking dogs for seasonal workers, but it expanded as more dogs were adopted in 2020 and 2021.

“I was working less and less at my job, and I went from full-time to four days a week, down to two days a week,” Thompson said. “Every year it was a little less. It started as just a seasonal thing. And then COVID hit and all the dogs needed socialization and I had a new home. And as a specific job with an actual local community that lives here all year round, I was drawn to it.

Mo Thompson (left) and husband Lee Thompson with their son Vern

Now it’s up to five groups a day. Last year, she hired her husband, Lee, to drive the bus and help with other aspects of the business. Originally they had a van, but after it broke down over a year ago, they converted to a vehicle known as the Puppy Bus.

Thompson said she put out an SOS for a vehicle and in the interim they went door to door to pick up the dogs. The temperature dropped below zero and they had to temporarily stop their walks. They eventually found the bus through Jeff Hamilton, who runs Hamilton Construction Skagway.

“He gave us something really good about it,” he said. “We were actually about to meet him and we saw it and we said, ‘We can’t afford it. This is a beautiful bus.” “

And that’s when they started getting a bigger following with their social media videos. One of them introduced Lee Thomson as the driver of a city bus and only at the end discovered a load of dogs. Another does a Mo Thompson air hostess impression, handing out free liver candies to all passengers. While some posts have approached 20 million views, none have come close to the popularity of the bus pickup video.

With so many groups to walk, Thompson mixes up where he takes the dogs depending on a number of factors. He avoids taking large groups on trails with tighter switchbacks or blind corners, preferring wide open spaces instead. Puppies and small dogs probably won’t be able to go on more serious walks, and there’s always an element of adaptation that goes into groups.

“You can’t put any dog ​​on any dog,” he said. “You really have to find the right energy matches and place dogs that get along well with each other. Finding the right group setting, the right mood, and making sure the dogs enjoy the training they need to be successful on these walks is critical.

Thompson has created a website with a dog calendar for sale, and the goods are on the way. Lee Thompson said that while they create more content for social media, they try to keep it as authentic as possible.

“I think the biggest thing is a lot of people who are into social media, they’re really trying to force content, they’re really trying to find something,” he said. “For us, it’s really something we already do. So we don’t really go out of our way to do certain types of videos or anything. We’re just doing what we’re already doing.”

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