Join Susie, an Australian Shepherd, as she and her human take you where pets are always welcome. Susie loves to be outside and always with her owner and she knows you want your pets to accompany you on your travels. There are many hotels and vacation spots that cater to your furry friends and Susie wants you to know about them. We also want you to tell us about your most pet-friendly vacations. Too Cute!
Susie was pleased to hear that other therapy dogs are serving as comfort dogs at many airports in the United States. The thousands of years of relationship between dog and man have a plethora of benefits for both species. Dogs make a great addition to any situation in which mankind experiences stress and airports are definitely a place (especially nowadays) where stress is high.
Already 30 airports have adopted a comfort dog program to provide dogs for passengers to hug and pet. Even a major airline has started a comfort dog program.
United Airlines created a program for holiday travel called “United Paws.” In 2015 they expanded the holiday program from two airports to seven that include Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark and Washington, DC.
Dr. Walter Woolf, a veterinary consultant to the program stated that:
“Research shows that just petting a dog releases oxytocin, the hormone associated with bonding and affection, and also decreases levels of stress, helps us breathe easier and lowers our blood pressure.”
Dr. Woolf’s comment is well supported within the community of people that study and understand dogs and their relationship with human beings.
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) was among the first to launch a comfort dogs program entitled PUP (Pets Unstressing Passengers). The program was started intentionally on April 15, 2013 – since Tax Day is one of the most stressful days of the year. Photos of the dogs are on their site.
Heidi Huebner, director of volunteers at LAX was quoted by CBS Los Angeles:
“When you walk in with the dogs, you feel the stress level drop immediately. People start smiling, people start talking to each other, they’re taking picture, they’re hugging the dogs.”
On the east coast Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport created the FLL AmbassaDogs program also in 2013. The program has teams of volunteer handlers who approach passengers with the dogs giving them an opportunity to visit. The dogs even have their own business cards with information on both the dog and the program. Susie likes this because she has cards that her daddy hands out on visits that are provided by a grant to the WAGS therapy organization for certified teams.
The concept is spreading so don’t be surprised to see comfort dogs on your next flight.