Is your experience “PAWSitive” at the airport?

 

Lisa Niver with one of the LAX PUPS Therapy dogs
Lisa Niver with one of the LAX PUPS Therapy dogs

Thank you to American Airlines for allowing me to share about the therapy dog programs at many airports across the United States. Is your experience PAWSitive at the airport?

Airports want to make traveling more humane again and in order to do so have brought in man’s best friend. There are now 54 airports that have established canine assistance programs in order to provide stress relief and comfort to passengers. Chicago airport opened their project just in time for Christmas 2017. At Charlotte Douglas International (CLT) Airport look for the Canine Crew which began in 2015. The DFW K9 Crew began in October 2016.  You are invited to pet the dogs, collect trading cards and have your picture taken with them. The handlers give directions and look for passengers in need of extra assistance especially screaming children who are often calmed immediately by the therapy dogs.

At LAX, Heidi Huebner explained that the “Pets Unstressing Passengers (PUP) program’s 74 therapy dogs and handlers roam the departures levels in the gate areas of each terminal, visiting passengers awaiting flights and providing comfort, as well as airport information. The program educates and informs passengers about the LAX projects and construction related traffic impacts.”

At all the airports, the dogs have a uniform often a “Pet Me” vest and at LAX the handlers wear red shirts with the PUP logo and are available as an addition to the customer service team.

Is your experience “PAWSitive” at the airport?

Is your experience “PAWSitive” at the airport?

Oliver, 5

Australian Cattle Dog

Los Angeles International Airport

“An arriving passenger was on his way to see his son in the hospital who was on life support,” says handler Jill Morse of Los Angeles’ Pets Unstressing Passengers program, which boasts 74 therapy dogs and led the way for other airports to create similar programs. “After seeing ‘Pet Me’ on Oliver’s vest, the man got down on his knees, Oliver came over and put his head in the man’s lap. For a long time, they simply hugged.”

Nana, 2

Border Collie

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

“An elderly woman in a wheelchair was traveling with her adult grandson,” says handler Victoria Cowper of the Navigator Buddies program. “She just had foot surgery and was concerned about missing her flight. She saw Nana out of the corner of her eyes and immediately wanted to get out of her wheelchair to pet Nana.” The traveler’s tears of anxiety turned into ones of joy as she spent quality time with Nana.

Max, 8

Chow Mix

Dallas/Forth Worth International Airport

“When a 3-year-old girl’s mother and three siblings were unable to console her, the little girl called out for ‘doggie’ and stopped crying immediately while she pet Max’s fur and played with his ears and tail,” says Stephen Burn of the K9 Crew, which boasts 37 handler teams ready to bring smiles and laughter to the airport terminals. “The smiles and laughter filled the gate area from all the passengers as the mother and father mouthed the words ‘thank you.’”

Kovu, 6

German Shepard

Charlotte Douglas International Airport

“When a mother-of-the-groom was trying to fly to Italy for her only son’s wedding, her flights were delayed and she ended up missing the wedding,” says Kim TKTKTK, one of the 23 handlers in the Canine Crew program. “She found Kovu and asked to sit with him. Kovu cuddled with her and she felt calmer.”

 

Is your experience “PAWSitive” at the airport? (see page 18)

There are programs at more than 50 airports all with quirky names for example:

*San Diego Airport: “Ready, Pet, Go”

*Niagara International Airport: Paws for Love (started 2005, over 300 volunteers)

*Denver International Airport’s therapy dog program: Canine Airport Therapy Squad program code name CATS—now has cats as well as dogs

Two of the newest programs are at: 

*Vancouver International Airport

*Rochester International Airport “Caring Tails”

And now there are miniature pigs:

Bacon Bits can be found at the Albany Airport on the Canine Ambassador team

Lilou is available for petting at San Francisco International Airport as part of the Wag Brigade.

Flying Kisses LAX PUPS program Feb 2017
Flying Kisses LAX PUPS program Feb 2017

Lisa Ellen Niver

After exploring 99 countries and sailing for seven years on the high seas, Lisa Niver is ready for more active adventures! Find her We Said Go Travel videos with over 1.25 million views on Roku, Amazon Fire TV and YouTube. Her stories include Dutch designer villas for Luxury Magazine, interviewing Fabien Cousteau for Delta Sky, skiing with the blind for Sierra and WWII for Saturday Evening Post and Smithsonian. She is verified on both Twitter and Facebook and is the Adventure Correspondent for The Jet Set TV. Her latest projects are 50 new things before she is 50 and Facebook Live for USA Today 10best. She has run 13 Travel Writing Awards publishing nearly 2000 writers from 75 countries and this summer is the first We Said Go Travel Photo Competition. She was a winner in the 59th annual 2016 Southern California Journalism Awards for her print column in The Jewish Journal. She was invited to the United Nations as a Champions of Humanity ambassador, to the red carpet at the Oscars with United Airlines and to New Orleans with American Express and Starwood Hotels. She also contributes to USA Today, Wharton Business Magazine, the Jewish Journal and was a 2012 nominee for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching, a 2014 nominee for the Charles Bronfman Prize and a finalist in two categories for the 59th annual Southern California Journalism Awards.

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