The dogs are all different breeds, boast different sizes from the petite Chihuahua to the long haired Dalmatian, but they are all kind, gentle and loving therapy dogs who pad through the airports with their owners to bring stress release to frazzled passengers reports the USA Today.com. The program started a year ago, and the popularity of the dogs continues to grow.
Called PUP or Pets Unstressing Passengers, the program is now in 20 airports across the United States and Canada including such major hubs as Miami International, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Easily recognized by the red vests the dogs wear which says "Pet Me," children run over and seem to forget, at least for a few minutes, the frustration and boredom of having to wait hours and hours because of flight delays and cancellations.
At LAX, the director of volunteers, Heidi Huebner, classifies the dogs as "a breath of fresh air and fun" for travelers. Especially in a time when stress levels of passengers are at an all time high since the recent Malaysia Airline 370 crash and the more recent Malaysia Airline 17 disaster, the dogs calm dispositions and just their faces bring a smile to the most nervous of passengers.
The dogs come from all walks of life; some are even rescued dogs who underwent therapy of their own before being able to perform their new jobs - of which all the dogs seem to enjoy, but who wouldn't love to be gently scratched, told you're beautiful and whispered sweet words of affection into your ears? The dogs, however don't just get a red vest and a job in the airport without knowing what they're doing.
At LAX, the dogs have to be registered with Therapy Dogs Incorporated, and have had the experience of working in the field of therapy for at least a year prior to applying for the job in the airport. Their owners are fingerprinted and identified for security reasons, and in some of the airports, the dogs undergo classroom training.
Therapy dogs are not service dogs, but when these comforting dogs put their best paw forward and can bring a sense of relief to stressed out passengers, and there's no more payment due than a good belly rub, what more could you ask for while waiting for your flight?
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