Pets Unstressing Passengers at LAX

Part of the Pets Unstressing Passengers program at LAX

Dog can serve a wide range of roles: companions, police dogs, search and rescue dogs, military dogs, actors, and school mascots. Of course, I’m partial to therapy dogs–dogs trained to bring calm, comfort, and joy to people in need. Therapy dogs fill important roles improving moods, decreasing pain, and relieving stress in a wide range of environments. Therapy dogs may work in  nursing homes, hospitals and hospices, libraries and schools, funeral homes, and even court houses. Wherever people need comfort and stress relief, you’ll find a role for a therapy dog.

Traveling can be both fun and stressful. A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reported effects of travel, looking at how separation from loved ones affected both travelers and those left at home. They identified travel-related changes in mood, sleep, physical symptoms, and stress levels. Reported changes were confirmed by changes in cortisol levels, your body’s stress hormone.

Ask any dog owner about the worst parts of traveling, and you’ll likely hear about missing the family dog. Innovative thinkers at LAX have responded to this by adding a new group to their airport staff to make travel waits less stressful and frustrating. LAX has been joined by a group of Therapy Dogs Incorporated dogs through a program is called Pets Unstressing Passengers. The dogs’ mission– help destress passengers waiting for flights.

These therapy dogs wear bright red vests that invite visitors with big letters that read “PET ME!” Dogs  visit with airport staff and passengers in bordering areas. The dog’s handlers even pass out trading cards for each dog that passengers can take with them on their flights to keep the stress relief going.

So the next time I’m making travel plans, I’ll have to find a way to include LAX as my layover destination to get a bit of destressing PUP time.

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