I do not enjoy flying—not at all—and it’s not a recent development. I hate the close quarters and cramped seats, and I always fight feelings of panic during takeoffs and landings. I’m so reluctant to fly that I can actually count the number of vacations I’ve taken by plane on one hand—and I’m in my early 40s. However, I’ve recently felt the urge to visit an airport—though not just any location. I’d like to go to Los Angeles International to pet the PUPs airport dogs.
LAX launched the Pets Unstressing Passengers program in April, and the 30 dogs roaming the concourses in red vests emblazoned with the words “Pet Me” are intended to take the stress out of travel for anxious airport guests. Each dog is certified by Therapy Dogs, Inc., and must be comfortable with crowds, healthy, stable, well-mannered, and able to walk on a 4-foot leash held by a handler. Breeds vary. According to several articles on the program, you’ll find Dalmatians, Labradors, Spaniels, Poodles, Dobermans, Irish Wolfhounds and Labradoodles at LAX.
As other airports recognize the success of the program, they’ve begun adding their own therapy dogs. You’ll find nine wagging tails at San Jose International and one at Miami International. Miami’s dog, Casey, is a Golden Retriever with her own website and weekly reality television show on the Travel Channel.
While I’m not planning a plane trip anytime soon, I love the idea of calming frazzled nerves with a few strokes of soft doggie fur. I hope all airports will institute PUPs programs soon.
Do you agree? Let’s discuss in the comments.