A little dog's life nearly came to an abrupt end on a busy Auckland road, before a hero bus driver came to the rescue.

Seven-year-old Mata had escaped her owner's house in Waterview, and found herself dodging rush-hour traffic on Great North Rd.

Seeing the little dog startled, scared and unlikely to have a happy ending, bus driver Rachel Waiwari pulled over, on route from the CBD to Henderson, and gave her a helping hand.

She plumped Mata in the luggage area until the end of the line, hoping to reunite her with her owner.

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Bus passenger Valerie Brand, who runs a dog and house care business, City Nomads, took a photo of Mata and posted it on her Facebook page.

"The bus driver was awesome, she stopped and picked her up just outside the BP garage.

"The poor little thing was shaking like a leaf."

Within 30 minutes, Brand's post had been shared by dozens of people and seen more than 5000 times, including by the owner's daughter-in-law.

Chyanne Henry saw a picture of Mata on an Auckland bus floating around social media, and immediately recognised the dog as her mother-in-law's.

She had just arrived home from work and called Auckland Transport, who told her to get pick up Mata from the New Lynn depot before 6.30pm.

"So we raced there and got there just in time.

"Mata had been on the bus three hours. She was a bit dehydrated but at least she was alive and not run over. We are so grateful."

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Her mother-in-law had been caring for Mata for the past four years, after her own mother died.

"[My mother in law] let her out to go to the toilet but she got spooked and ran off."

She had taken Mata's collar off while the dog was inside.

"As soon as I saw the picture on Facebook, I knew it was her.

"My mother-in-law was very happy. She thought she was gone, and she was not going to find her again."

Waiwari's "outstanding contribution to public safety" was acknowledged in a meeting of the Albert-Eden Local Board, which thanked Brand for "her caring attitude to public safety and humanity, noting that she stopped her bus... and rescued a lost dog stuck among traffic... thereby preventing the dog's death".

The board also thanked Brand for helping reunite the lost dog with her owner.