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For a 2-year-old Seattle mutt named Eclipse, bus rides to the local dog park became so routine, she started taking them herself.
A black Labrador-mastiff mix, Eclipse made her first solo venture into pup-lic transportation about a year and a half ago by accident, according to her owner, Jeff Young. Young was finishing a cigarette by his apartment in the Queen Anne neighborhood when the D Line bus — which frequently transports them to a dog park in nearby Belltown — arrived. Eclipse apparently couldn't wait any longer, so she hopped aboard before Young could join her.
Young followed Eclipse and found her at the dog park. She's made several trips on her own since then.
"I'm on the bus right behind her, when she goes on by herself," Young, 50, told TODAY.com. "They come every 10 to 12 minutes."
Fellow commuters appear to have warmed to their four-legged bus mate, and local bus drivers seem to recognize her when she hops on the bus unaccompanied. She'll wander the aisle and switch seats to pass the time, but never at the expense of looking out the window to see where she is.
Eclipse even inspired a devout following among locals. "We're calling them Ecliptomaniacs," Lauren Campbell, Young's girlfriend, told TODAY.com. "A lot of people consider her the unofficial mascot of Seattle. She's like a four-legged ambassador."
Eclipse originally belonged to Young's teenage son, but after some time, Young's prolonged dog-sitting led to de facto ownership and superlative training, Campbell said. "He's trained her to the point that she's very, very independent," she added. "She's very street-wise, and totally urbanized. What that means is, she'll walk out of our building and our bus stop is right there. She knows exactly which bus to hop on."
Campbell said Young, at the very least, is there to claim Eclipse when the bus doors open. And for the bulk of those bus trips, Campbell said she and Young are often by the dog's side. "She gets along with everyone, and she smiles," she added. "It's a really distinct smile, and it's really cute."
Young said her popularity has changed the way he rides the bus. "People on the bus, now, they look for her," he said. "She really makes their day. ... If I show up without her, people are like, 'Hi. Where's Eclipse?'"
Eclipse has plenty of fans, but a few people have complained, Young said.
"There's always dog-haters," he added. "She's not aggressive. She doesn't smell. She doesn't jump on people. She minds her own [business], looks for an empty seat, looks out the window, waits for her stop. She's not bothering anybody."
At the dog park, Eclipse particularly enjoys catching tennis balls that the couple bounces high off the ground. "She gets up there, man, off all fours," Campbell added. "She can really fly."
Figuratively, anyway. Eclipse might need a little more training to earn her own passport.
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