Therapy dogs brought in to Scottish airport for stressed passengers

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Aberdeen International Airport has drafted in a team of four-legged volunteers after a successful trial over the busy Christmas and New Year period (2018).

The airport will become the first in the UK to have its very own therapy dog team when the Canine Crew start regular working regularly on Saturday (4 May).

The dogs are easily identified in their high-vis jackets and bandanas, and will mingle with passengers and staff throughout the terminal.

READ MORE: Therapy dog trial at Scottish airport for stressed passengers

Visitors to the airport were pleasantly surprised to see the dogs on Monday (29 April) ahead of their official start, with many rushing to pet them, give them a hug and a belly rub.

One frequent flyer was Dr Jolene Moore, 39, an anaesthetist from Aberdeen, who said she would be more willing to fly knowing there are dogs at the airport.

She added: “I just love dogs, I saw them outside and I asked what they are here for. I fly quite a lot for work and sometimes that can get a bit boring like being at the airport so it does make it a bit more pleasant.”

The 14 dogs with their owners will take shifts on individual days with a one pair set to greet travellers this weekend.

Another flyer who was also pleasantly surprised to see the furry pets before she flew was student midwife, Mhairi McLellan, 30, from Peterculter.

The RGU student said: “I don’t like the take-off and landing. I just forgot about flying there, all I could think about was the adorable dogs.”

Aberdeenshire north representative for Canine Concern Scotland Trust,

Diane Wood said she was absolutely delighted for the dogs to take their first shift.

She added: “To be the first airport in the UK, we are so proud to be involved. We have a fantastic team of 14 dogs in all different shapes and sizes.

“I think it is going to be of massive benefit to the airport and its passengers. If you’re a bit stressed out about flying you can come and sit and stroke the dogs.

“The dogs lower blood pressure and lower tension. Anybody that is anxious can speak to the dogs, just look for the canine crew.

“All these dogs are used to working in nursing homes, in schools, prisons and severely dog-phobic children. They are exceptionally well-behaved and very calm dogs.

“If they are calm they are going to calm other people.”

During a visit to the airport last week Dianne said that the reaction on people’s faces when they saw the dogs was of pure delight.

She added: “It was just amazing, one person even said ‘this has made my trip to the airport worth it’.”

On Saturday when the scheme starts, Diane and her Golden Retriever, Breagh, along with another dog, will be helping passengers at check-in, security and the departure gates. The inspiration for the calming pets came from American airports who have therapy dogs.

A spokeswoman for Aberdeen International Airport, said: “They will be making people feel at ease throughout the airport.

“We have definitely had nervous flyers in the past,

we do have the passenger assistance programme, this is just an extra addition of that.

“This is just about general wellbeing, this is for staff as well just a little bit of lift, just makes everyone feel good.

“From what we have heard so far, people are loving it.”

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