Pet owners everywhere know the feeling of dread that overtakes you when your furry friend goes missing, so it is a relief to know that there are kind-hearted people in our cities who will step in and help our animals when they end up in hairy situations.
Michael “Mike” Thomas, a bus driver for TriMet in Portland, Oregon, was traveling along Capitol Highway on March 9 when he encountered something a bit weird. Standing in the road was a man holding a yellow Labrador retriever by the collar.
A car had to swerve out of the way to avoid hitting them, so Thomas decided to pull over and turn on his hazard lights as it seemed the safest option.
“You know, driving down the road at night you don’t expect to see a person in the middle of the road,” Thomas said in an interview with The Oregonian, “let alone a person with a dog.”
When the man walked up to the door of the bus, he let the dog go and then boarded as if he were at a bus stop.
Thomas, a life-long dog lover, knew he couldn’t just leave the dog in the road. Thomas said, “I asked him, ‘Is that your dog?’ He said, ‘Yes, but he’s OK.’ I said, ‘No, you need to get your dog, he’s in the road.'”
The man called the dog over, who boarded with a tennis ball in his mouth. Even though TriMet only allows animals if they are in a carrier or are a service dog, Thomas made an exception for the dog’s safety.
As they journeyed down the road, something began to seem off about the whole situation. Thomas asked the man how long he had had the dog, to which the response was, “We sort of adopted each other today.”
At another point, Thomas overheard the man talking to a woman on board, offering to give her the dog.
When the dog walked close to the driver’s seat, Thomas noticed a tag that said “Cooper” and had a phone number etched onto it.
When Thomas asked the man what his dog’s name was, the man was unable to answer.
“I let him know I just wasn’t buying it,” Thomas told The Oregonian.
When they arrived at the man’s exit downtown, Thomas grabbed Cooper’s collar and informed the man that Cooper would be staying with him and taken back home.
Cooper rode on the bus with Thomas until they arrived at the Washington Square stop. According to the security footage from the bus, Cooper spent most of his ride contentedly sitting with his tennis ball in his mouth.
“He was very well behaved,” Thomas said.
With the help of a regular passenger, they made sure Cooper was okay until he was in the hands of transit police, who called the number on his collar.
Jane Murphy, Cooper’s owner, had just received news that Cooper was missing, but it wasn’t long before she received the good news from the transit authorities.
“They said your dog has been found, he’s on a TriMet bus,” she recalled.
Once Murphy was back in Portland, she sent Thomas a picture of Cooper that said “Thank you for bringing me back home” as a small token of gratitude, according to KPTV.
Cooper had just turned 4 years old and had been in their family since he was a puppy.
In addition, TriMet arranged a meeting on May 2 so that Murphy could thank Thomas in person. Thomas brought Cooper a bone and Murphy was able to meet her hero in person.
“Blessings to you and all of TriMet,” Murphy said. “Our lives would not be the same without our Cooper. We love him so much.”
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