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General NewsPet me!

November 1, 2013

Many hands reach out to touch the therapy dog.

Many hands reach out to touch the therapy dog.

Photo: The University at Buffalo

Many people like to travel, but they don’t like airports. They don’t like the long lines. They don’t like the crowds of people. They worry about safety. Three airports in the U.S. are offering help for stressed passengers. The help is very unusual. It has four legs, a furry body, and a wagging tail. It is an airport therapy dog.Therapy dogs have special training to give love and comfort to people. They often work in hospitals with sick patients and in schools and libraries with children. After the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 in New York, the airport at San Jose decided to try therapy dogs to calm passengers. It was a big success. Now Los Angeles has thirty dogs and Miami has one.Many different breeds of dogs can be therapy dogs, but to actually work at the airport each dog must pass a certification test. They cannot pull at their leash. They must demonstrate good manners. They must remain calm around strange adults and excited children and a lot of noise and confusion.People with allergies or a fear of dogs don’t need to worry. The dogs seem to sense this and will stay away.

Airport therapy dogs have only one job. Make friends. They wear a special vest or bandanna. It says, “Pet me.” So passengers touch and talk to the dogs. Frowns leave. Smiles return. Worries go away.

Published November 2013

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