Airports Have Finally Found a Way to Make Travelers Happy

Written by: Thea Raymond-Sidel

July 29, 2014

There are few things in the world more stressful, and more necessary, than flying. It’s no secret that in the past few years things have only gotten worse for travelers—long delays, long lines, hidden fees, and full flights have made things more difficult, especially for those traveling long distances or with kids.

What’s a human to do? Well, in some airports in the United States and Canada, the answer is surprisingly simple: pet a dog.

LAX 1Brian Valente and his therapy dog, Finn, greet the Bloom family at LAX.

According to USA Today, about 20 airports across the US and Canada have implemented programs where volunteer therapy dogs wander around terminals with their volunteer owners—and they’re basically little furry celebrities, even at LAX, which regularly plays host to real celebrities.

LAX 3Hazel gets some love from a family who just finished 22-hour flight from Manila.

LAX implemented the Pets Unstressing Passengers, or PUP, program last year. The therapy dogs employed through PUP are pretty experienced little buggers: They must be two years old, have to be registered with Therapy Dogs, Inc. and have had one year of experience in other therapy dog venues, like hospitals, nursing homes, or schools. Despite these requirements, many of the dogs now serving in the red “Pet Me” vest at LAX are rescues.

LAX 2Hazel, Kai, Maggie Mae and owners hard at work at LAX.

Hazel, a nine-year-old pointer mix, was rescued from a shelter by Lou and Barbara Friedman. Lou, Barbara and Hazel now wander through LAX, greeting frazzled travelers and children and stopping for photos with the “puparazzi”.

LAX 4Kai, a long-haired dalmatian, holds still for the cameras.

“When she puts that vest on, she knows she has to work,” Lou Friedman told USA Today of Hazel’s work ethic. She and her pals Kai, a long-haired dalmatian, and Rosalie, a chihuahua-terrier mix, have the lay of LAX down and a new group of adoring fans every day.

LAX 5Hazel gets down on the floor for some love, but he prefers laps.

But PUP makes sure that they never have their dog volunteers or their owners working strenuous hours. Norm Zareski, who owns Rosalie, makes sure to watch to make sure that his 10-year-old pup isn’t getting frustrated or tired.

“When the dogs are done, they’re done,” he said.

LAX 6Lou, Barbara, and Hazel Friedman volunteering at LAX.

h/t to USA Today. All photos via USA Today.

Written by: Thea Raymond-Sidel

July 29, 2014

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