Did you know there are dogs at airports specifically for making US feel better? In fact, LAX has assisted 46 other airports nationwide to start a similar therapy dog program and the numbers are growing. The LAX PUPS (Pets Unstressing Passengers) therapy dogs walk around the terminals in their red “Pet Me!” vests seeking to soothe stressed travelers and welcoming cuddles.
So, what’s a typical day like for an LAX PUP?
I recently had the opportunity to meet the program director Heidi Huebner and got to walk around LAX with the pups myself. Yay, puppy time! These dogs are all registered therapy dogs and were so calm, obedient and loving. We all know that dogs can totally sense our feelings, especially if we have anxiety, so it was really nice to see how people responded to the pups. So many spotted them and came over asking if they could really pet the dog; some would take a good 10-15 minutes with a dog. “They love seeing the dogs in the terminals,” Heidi says about the passengers. “They say I really needed this, or I just left my dogs at home and already miss them, so this is a nice way to get some more love.”
LAX terminals will now call Heidi when it looks like some of the travelers need de-stressing and she dispatches some dogs right over. Pretty cool. I wish I had that wherever I went! Dogs are basically my stress-reliever squishy ball… or walking xanax. 🙂
LAX PUPS started in 2013 and I’m so happy to see that it’s growing and popping up in more airports! Oh, did I mention these dogs have their own cards? Yep. If you do run into one, make sure to start collecting their little trading cards. Heidi continues, “I got another email from a man whose young son met the pups and took a picture of his son eating dinner at home with the pup’s card next to him on the dining room table. The dad said, my son eats with the card next to him every night. These dogs and the volunteers touch so many people everyday. It is a simple act of kindness that makes traveling warm and fuzzy.”
So, next time you’re feeling a little edgy over that upcoming flight, hope one of PUPS furriest finds you!