Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
Murray, Utah -- On Christmas Eve, KSL News broke a story that was quickly repeated around the world. News organizations went nuts over the dog in Murray that went into a grocery store and stole a rawhide bone.
It wasn't just what he did; it was how he did it: straight to the pet aisle, grab a bone, get out. "Never been seen again. Disappeared. Rode off into the sunset with his bone," said Roger Adamson, store manager of the Smith's Food & Drug store in Murray.
When KSL broadcast the surveillance video on Christmas Eve, regular Smith's customers, like Sister Mary Joseph, started hearing about it from friends out of state. "[They] sent me an e-mail on it, and I laughed my head off," Joseph said.
They were laughing around the world too. KSL chief video editor Bob Brown made copies for a network in England. "A couple of weeks later, I got a request from a TV station, or a network, in Japan," he said.
The story really exploded on the Internet, jumping within hours from KSL.com to many other Web sites. "On YouTube, alone, there's almost 135,000 people who have seen it," said Graydon Johns, KSL.com news director.
Adamson became one of the few grocery guys ever to do a live interview on NBC's Today show, and his shaggy shoplifter is drawing fan mail from all over. "We're getting a lot of people that are offering to pay, to pay for the bone, sending us checks in the amount of $2.80," he said.
It's the kind of warm and fuzzy publicity that corporate public relations people dream about, and this time the dog did all the thinking for them.
"We estimated that there was probably over $300,000 of media value on the dog story alone. We were shocked at how far it spread," said Marsha Gilford, spokeswoman for Smith's Food & Drug.
"People call it a viral story. It spreads quickly," Johns said; and everyone has a theory why.
"Because everybody has a dog," Joseph laughed. "They're man's best friend, you know."
Brown told us, "I think we're just curious that animals have some of the same tendencies we do. If they want something, they just go get it."
"Yes, he was a thief, but we're going to let this one off the hook," Gilford said.
Smith's Food & Drug forwarded the donated money to the Humane Society of Utah. We still don't know whose dog it was or where he has gone.