Dogs at the airport is nothing new. Dogs have had important jobs in airports for a long time, but those dogs are “working” dogs, which means the public isn’t allowed to touch them. So all of us animal lovers were only allowed to watch them from afar while we oohed and ahhhed. But now there’s a new program popping up in many airports designed just for us, they are therapy dogs, known by different names like wag brigade, k9 crews, canine ambassadors, etc. These dogs are usually wearing a vest or bandanna that says “pet me!” Their job is to ease passengers and put a smile on your face. And for those of us forced to travel without our pets, a good ear rub or getting a lick from a friendly pooch can make our day.
The program began after 9/11, when an airport pastor brought in her own dog to help soothe stressed and frightened passengers at the San Jose airport in California. And from there it picked up. Today, you can find therapy dogs just waiting to ease your travel jitters, your stressed voyage and put a smile on your face in about 30 airports around the country and some internationally.
We are very lucky to be close to one of those airports, DFW. “DFW Airport’s K9 Crew of 12 experienced therapy dogs and their handlers provide fliers with stress relief and comfort by being a friendly presence in the Airport terminal. Dogs can be spotted in official “DFW K9 Crew” harnesses and accompanied by handlers wearing DFW K9 Crew uniforms.” Said DFW in their press release.
All of these dogs have been trained and certified by various local therapy dog groups to ensure they can handle the hustle and bustle of an airport but also make sure they actually enjoy that environment. All of these therapy dog and handler teams are in the airport as volunteers, just because they like to put a smile on your face.
Some of the therapy dog airport programs are listed below but there are many more so before you travel you might do a quick search and keep an eye out next time you travel, you might just be lucky enough to be in an airport that has these amazing therapy dogs.
PUP Pets Unstressing Passenger program at LAX
Pups and planes program at SAT
Denver has the Canine Airport Therapy Squad (CATS) which is kind of funny because the therapy animals are dogs and not cats, but still, a catchy name.
And it’s not just dogs that are joining the therapy groups. One of the most famous therapy companions is Lilou the pig who is part of San Francisco’s wag brigade, you can read all about the therapy team on their website.
Other airports with therapy dog programs are: Miami (MIA), Albany (ALB). Phoenix (PHX) Charlotte (CLT), San Jose California (SJC), Sacramento (SMF), Minneapolis (MSP), Syracuse (SYR), Chicago’s Canine Therapy Corps (ORD &MDW), Asheville (AVL), Rhode Island (PVD), Oklahoma (OKC), Ft. Lauderdale (FLL), Reno, Tahoe Airport (RNO), Salt Lake City (SLC), as well as Vancouver (YVR), Halifax (YHZ) and Edmonton (YEG) in Canada.