Photo Credit: Denver International Airport
Keep calm and travel on!
Travel can be a wonderful experience full of moments that many of us expect and look forward to as we dream of our next adventure.
- The excitement of planning a vacation.
- The thrill of finding great deals on flights and accommodations.
- The satisfaction of packing weeks’ worth of clothes into a tiny carry-on suitcase.
- The exhilaration of rushing through the airport.
- The joy of experiencing a change of scenery.
However, for many people, these moments also bring along feelings of nervousness and stress.
That’s why we have our therapy dogs visit airports! Many travelers can experience travel anxiety and seeing dogs with their tongues out and tails wagging, can boost anyone’s mood!
How Therapy Dogs Can Help
Airports can be hectic. From trying to find the right gate to a flight getting delayed, travelers can experience plenty of frustration. That’s why it makes sense to have therapy dog programs at airports. Christina Orlikowski, an Alliance of Therapy Dogs member, says having therapy dogs at the airport makes a difference.
“I can’t tell you how often I’m told ‘this really made my day.’ And it isn’t just the passengers, it’s also employees at the airport,” said Orlikowski. “They love seeing the dogs and especially love the fact they can pet the therapy dogs.”
A Round of A-Paws
The team of Orlikowski and her basset hound, Almondine are not only ATD members. They are also members of the Canine Airport Therapy Squad (CATS) where they volunteer at Denver International Airport. They’re even in the 2023 Guinness World Records® book as the ‘Largest Airport Therapy Animal Program.’ They had an event on September 15, 2022, in the Jeppesen terminal celebrating their milestone and received a plaque for the title.
“All of us are really quite proud of our team,” said Orlikowski. “People really appreciate what we do and it makes me happy to be a part of that. And who doesn’t enjoy bragging rights now and then? Especially when you get to share it with your best furry friend.”
At ATD, we make sure our therapy dogs at the airport have received proper training, certification, and insurance. The pups get to experience the hustle and bustle of airport life before they begin their volunteer work there. This way they can prepare and know what to expect.
When you see a therapy dog at the airport they will wear a ‘Pet Me’ vest to let people know it’s okay for the dogs to be pet. This also helps differentiate them from service dogs.
“Our volunteer management team does a really great job of keeping us informed and providing us with some unique opportunities to volunteer for some special meet and greet events in addition to our regular activities,” said Orlikowski. “I think being a volunteer is really rewarding. I always tell my husband we are going to the airport to spread joy.”
Next time you’re at the airport and see a therapy dog, don’t hesitate to drop by and feel the stress leave your body with just a few wags of a tail. It may help make your travel journey that much smoother.