Dogs Help Ease Travelers’ Stress

Nervous passengers are eased by friendly dogs prior to air travel.

By Cari Jorgensen | Posted: November 19, 2014, 10 a.m. PST

I’m not usually a nervous traveler. I’ve flown to various states and have done a lot of traveling overseas. But right before a 10-hour flight from New York to Greece I was so full of anxiety that I could not stop shaking and I felt terribly nauseated. I was able to relax, but I imagine my anxiety would have eased a lot faster had there been a dog to pet and talk to at the airport.
Airport Dog
 A therapy dog does his magic in the LAX Pets Unstressing Passengers (PUP) program. Photo via Facebook
Shortly after 9/11, when probably everyone was scared to fly, a volunteer at the Mineta San José International Airport (SJC) brought Orion, her certified therapy dog, to the airport. She felt the dog’s presence would help alleviate the fears and anxieties passengers may have.

She was right.

The outcome was so positive, in fact, that there are now 13 volunteer handler and dog teams visiting with passengers each day, every day. The dogs, which include Golden Retrievers, a Rat Terrier, a Rottweiler, a Cocker Spaniel, a French Mastiff and a Miniature Schnauzer, Therapy Dogs International (TDI)-certified. This certification means every dog has been tested for general obedience, their willingness to be petted and hugged, their ability to focus on the task at hand while surrounded by noise and other distractions and for non-aggression. Each volunteer handler must pass security clearance.

The requirements are worth it.

"We've had many very touching encounters with airport employees and travelers," Kyra Hubis, SJC therapy dog program leader, told USA Today. "It's especially poignant to see soldiers being deployed hugging Henry James and telling him to 'take care of the house' while they're gone." Hubis has been bringing Henry James, her Golden Retriever, to SJC for the last four years.

Other airports, including San Antonio International Airport, Miami International Airport, Will Rogers World Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International AirportReno-Tahoe International Airport and San Francisco International Airport have followed suit.

If only there had been a dog to ease my stress at JFK.

What do you think of stress-relieving dogs at the airports? Do you think all airports should have a therapy dog program in place? Let us know in the comments.

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Eileen - 249708   Port Perry, ON

11/20/2014 5:46:28 AM

Yes I agree, I have a Certified Therapy Dog and it is amazing how a dog can ease stress and I see it happen right before my eyes all the time with my Therapy Dog.

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