MUSKEGON, Mich. — In Skagway, Alaska, you can find a magical school bus that takes students on the trips of their dreams each and every day.
Although, it’s not your typical class of students — in fact, they’re a lot furrier.
Behind it all is a couple with a whole lot of heart, Lee and Mo Thompson. The couple picks up dogs in their area and drives them to a hiking spot where they can get some energy out alongside their best friends.
“I'm like the weird dog lady. That's like, my strange quirk," said Mo.
For her, it all started with a passion for dogs. When she was in high school, she would offer to dog sit for free. Well, almost free.
“I just wanted the snacks in the cupboards," she laughed.
When she and her husband moved to Alaska in 2014, she started walking her friends' dogs while they worked long hours. Over time, more paying clients stacked up.
After Lee’s schedule as a paraprofessional at a nearby school was cut to part-time, he jumped on board to help out.
The business was expanding, and Mo knew riding a bike while walking the dogs wouldn’t work in the long run.
“The bus was always like my dream because everybody can have their own individual space," Mo said.
Each dog is trained to hop on board and find their assigned seats. They get buckled in and prepare for an adventure.
There’s even cliques like a real school bus with the little, calmer dogs in the front and the more enthusiastic dogs in the back. Mo calls the back seats of the bus the "licky puppy corner."
“I was posting online for their owners to go home and watch my Facebook and Instagram stories. So they could just see where their dog was going and what they're up to.”
But those weren’t their only viewers. Mountain Mutts has amassed 1.6 million followers on Tik Tok, with hundreds of millions of views on their videos.
“Some of the dogs have fan clubs going, I think," Lee said.
The best part? The couple behind the booming business is from right here in West Michigan.
“I loved growing up in Muskegon. I mean, living in Alaska now, I still sometimes really miss the Lake Michigan beaches in the summertime.”
All these years later, the Pure Michigan pride is still there.
“We dug up some of my old Reeths-Puffer sweatshirts for you," Lee said during their interview with 13 ON YOUR SIDE.
Back in 2005, they met in the Reeths-Puffer cafeteria and after 15 years of dating, they got married last year. Now, they get to bring their 8-month-old son, Vern, along on the family business.
They’re inspired to keep the business going every day because they get to be their own boss.
“You normally would have come into a job, working towards someone else's dream," Lee said.
It's all for the good of the dogs too, of course.
“An owner tells you you've changed their life, they don't have to rehome their dog, or their neighbor says, 'Thank you so much, they barked so much less,' you know, when you kind of see the ripple effect in the community," Mo said.
Many tell them they have the dream job. They didn't hesitate to say they agree.
“I mean, how many other jobs can you have your husband, your son, your own pets, and you're outside getting fresh air and you're making a difference in your community?” Mo said.
The meaningful work – along with the furry companionship – made taking the leap worth it.
“No regrets," laughed Lee.
Check out Mo Mountain Mutts' latest content on their Facebook here. You can also follow them on Tik Tok with the username @Mo_Mountain_Mutts.
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