Mo Thompson never planned to become a dog walker — and he certainly didn’t plan to go viral on TikTok. But lately, her videos of her walking puppies have gotten millions of views, especially the ones that show how she picks them up: the puppy bus.
“They get on the bus and get in their seats, and the Internet just lost it,” he said. “50 million views. It was wild.”
The videos show dog groups Mo and her husband Lee taking their walking groups on leashes as part of their walking and training company Mo Mountain Mutts.
After picking up the pups in the small town of Skagway, Alaska, their minivan sets off on trail walks, hikes and swims. The dogs’ obligation to stay and their individual personalities have charmed the viewers.
“There are so many different dogs and so many different breeds and ages that there are a lot of dogs on the bus that you can relate to,” Thompson said. “So people are like, ‘Oh, my dogs are like Lola,’ or ‘I’m like Carl.’ They identify with themselves, like with a dog.”
There are certain fan favorites like Jake.
“Someone commented about ‘I bet Jake buckles himself up,'” she said. “He gets on the bus, he says hi to his friends, makes a circle and then takes his seat. Every morning. It’s like the same thing. If he were human, he’d be like, drink coffee and toast every morning for breakfast and read the newspaper.”
Or Amaru, who can be seen in the videos sitting alone in the snow and waiting for the bus to stop:
“You pull up and he starts wagging his tail,” Thomspon said.
“He gets on the bus just covered in snow.”
Their popularity surprised the Thompsons.
She originally posted on social media just to keep the parents of her dog clients informed. But then again, Mo didn’t intend for dog walking to turn into a business either. It started as just a favor to his coworkers, before he even had his own dog.
“It’s just the kind of thing in our town where people walk each other’s dogs. It’s just like a really small, local community,” Thompson said.
Mo took his friend’s dogs with him on the trails or out into the city to exercise and keep them company in the wilderness. As he got his own dogs and collaborated with friends, the groups grew and expanded. Eventually, people started calling him for help with training or behavioral problems.
“And it just kind of turned into like, ‘Okay guys, I’m going through a lot of treats and a lot of poop bags,'” he said.
“Can you throw me some money?”
He didn’t always have a bus. He transported the dogs in a van, and before the van, he transported them on a humble bicycle.
“I’ve been known in my community for a while, but not on the Internet,” he said. “It took the bus.”
This digital story was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.