After some struggle, the dog boarded the bus with the strange man. Mike asked him what his dog’s name was. The man gave a hesitant answer and told Mike his name was Pooch. Mike wasn’t buying it.
He decided to ask him more questions. Nothing added up. Something was wrong. Mike knew he had to do something.
It was just another day’s work for bus driver Mike Thomas, when he encountered something unusual on his normal route towards downtown.
The sun had set in Portland OR, that day and with it, any warmth the day had to offer. It was a cold, dark evening and the roads were quiet. No one was out walking, but him.
With a family at home, Mike always paid close attention to the road. He drove carefully, knowing that dangerous roads, drivers and unexpected jaywalkers do exist. But he never predicted that he’d encounter something like this.
Mike had been driving an empty bus since his shift started. It was more quiet than usual, but he wasn’t too worried about it.
As he drove down the street, a woman put out her hand, signalling him to stop. It was his first passenger of the day. They greeted each other as she hopped on board and took her seat.
Delighted to have friendly company, Mike and the woman made small talk while he continued down the road. His day was perking up, but it wouldn’t last for long.
He was walking untowardly in the middle of the road, impossible to miss. Mike slammed on his breaks and inched forward. What on earth was he doing?
As Mike got closer, his headlights shone light on what was beside him. The man was walking unsteadily, bent down to one side as he held his dog by the collar.
Mike pulled up beside the man and opened his doors to ask if everything was ok. The strange man ignored Mike’s questions and asked if he could board his bus.
Usually, you’d need to be at a designated bus stop to be allowed on but Mike was thinking of everyone’s safety. He knew something was off about this situation, so he told him to hop on. That’s when things escalated.
Mike watched as the strange man tried to get his unwilling dog onto the bus. It was a reaction that struck Mike as odd. Dogs are usually keen to follow their owners. Why was their relationship so hostile?
What’s more is that Mike noticed the stranger didn’t seem to call the dog by a name. Instead, he used force to get the dog to follow him. Something was definitely wrong.
Now, Mike was on high alert to the situation. He had a sneaking suspicion that this dog was in trouble or this man was not to be trusted. He just didn’t know how or why yet.
He closed his doors and watched from his mirrors as the man and dog made their way to take a seat. Mike’s mind raced with how he could confirm his suspicions. Suddenly, he had a plan.
Mike casually complimented the stranger on his dog and asked him what his name was. The man gave a hesitant answer and told Mike his name was Pooch. Mike wasn’t buying it.
Mike continued to ask him more about the dog’s age, when he got him, where he got him. Nothing added up. This man didn’t care about this dog. Mike knew he had to do something.
This dog was in trouble. As Mike saw it, there were two possibilities of what was happening here. Either Mike stumbled across a dognapping or this man was an abusive owner.
Mike knew he was dealing with this first possibility after he overheard what the stranger was telling the woman on the bus in a low whisper. She commented on “his” dog and he immediately made an offer.
Assuming Mike couldn’t hear him, the man offered to give the woman “his” dog in exchange for $200. Mike had enough. He knew this man must have snatched this poor dog from a family nearby.
So just before the man and dog approached Mike to exit the bus, Mike made his move and grabbed the dog by the collar. The man turned around to see Mike’s fist around “his” dog.
“This dog isn’t going anywhere” Mike said as he tensed his body, preparing to put up a fight. However, what the stranger did next surprised him. He took a moment to access Mike and then simply stepped off the bus.
Mike immediately called transit police to let them know that he had a stolen dog in his hands.
The dog stayed with Mike on the bus while the police searched for his real owner. It wasn’t long before panic-ridden Jane Murphy received the wonderful news that her dog was found and in safe hands.
“I couldn’t imagine if that man hadn’t come on the bus, what he would have done with (Cooper)”, Murphy said tearfully. But what exactly happened?
Murphy told police that she was on vacation and left her dog Cooper, to her son to take care of while she was away.
She describes the heartbreaking moment that her son called her upset and in a panic exclaiming that Cooper was gone. They presumed Cooper must have ran away but couldn’t understand how he got out of their backyard.
Perhaps the unwelcome stranger had a part to play in Cooper’s escape but they don’t know for sure if the man took Cooper from their back yard or if Cooper got out and then the man took him.
Either way, Murphy was so grateful to have him back and gifted Mike with a thank you present. Not a bad day’s work for hero Mike Thomas!