Scottish airport trials 'therapet' dogs to sooth nervous passengers

The innovative scheme has been rolled out in other airports already.

Edinburgh Airport has launched a trial of ‘therapet’ dogs as a method for soothing nervous passengers.

The dogs, from charity Canine Concern, are available to 'meet' and be petted by passengers in the areas before security.

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It is hoped the dogs will act as 'de-stressors' in the busy airport environment.

The dogs are from charity Canine Concern.The dogs are from charity Canine Concern.
The dogs are from charity Canine Concern. | other

The trial will run for two days in order to assess logistics and reaction from passengers.

A total of nine dogs will be brought to the airport on a rotating schedule.

Pippin the miniature schnauzer and Moffat the westie kicked things off this morning, and will be followed by Shadow the golden retriever and Harvey the shih tzu from noon until 2pm.

On Saturday Ozzie the golden retriever will join either Ollie the rough collie or Moffat, followed by Harvey with either Ollie or Willow the old English sheepdog from 12pm to 2pm.

'Therapets' from Canine Concern were introduced permanently to Aberdeen Airport in April 2019.

The trained dogs are already brought into nursing homes, schools, prisons and universities to help calm nerves and reduce stress.

Mel Hughes, CEO and Support and Development Officer of Canine Concern, said the trial went ‘very well’ in its first day.

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“It’s going very well so far, it’s a really good way to de-stress the passengers,” she said.

“We’ve seen a lot of people and a lot of families - as well as several members of staff who were feeling a bit stressed!”

Unlike assistance dogs, therapets do not receive special training for the job.

They are family pets who are volunteered by their owners and assessed for their aptitude and ‘calm nature’.

Dogs must volunteer for a minimum of one year to be cleared to work with children, as in the case of all the pets brought to Edinburgh Airport.

“We’re just here to wander around and people who want to see us can come up to us,” said Ms Hughes.

“It might be travellers who are upset at leaving their own pets behind, or fractious kids, or parents fed up with waiting in queues, or nervous flyers, or stressed-out staff… anyone who needs it.”

She added: “We’ve had such a welcome today, we’re very keen to work more with the airport moving forward, I think we could make a difference especially at busy periods like Easter, the summer holidays or Christmas.

“We’ve got a good partnership with Aberdeen Airport and we’re hoping to develop more good partnerships in future.”

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