Therapy dog trial at Scottish airport for stressed passengers

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The first therapy dog for stressed-out airport passengers in the UK has been easing the nerves of travellers at one of Scotland’s busiest airports.

Alaskan malamute Harley has been walking around Aberdeen Airport in the past week alongside owner Niel Chisholm to put the public at ease.

Therapy dog Alaskan malamute Harley has been helping passengers at Aberdeen International Airport.

Therapy dog Alaskan malamute Harley has been helping passengers at Aberdeen International Airport.

The dog was brought in initially on a trial basis to help prevent passengers from becoming frustrated.

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Therapy dogs have been used for years in North America but it is believed this is the first airport in the UK to bring in a pooch to perk up passengers.

One passenger even contacted the gentle giant’s owner to ask if the popular dog could stay longer to meet her autistic son on their return home.

Therapy dog Alaskan malamute Harley has been helping passengers at Aberdeen International Airport. Picture: CP

Therapy dog Alaskan malamute Harley has been helping passengers at Aberdeen International Airport. Picture: CP

Airport manager Fraser Bain said that he could see passengers’ faces light up when the dog walked around the airport.

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He said: “The use of therapy dogs has become quite common in North American airports to reduce customer anxiety and improve the passenger experience but we were not aware of any such schemes in UK airports.

“Harley made his first visit to the airport in March 2018 and he was an instant hit.

Therapy dog Alaskan malamute Harley has been helping passengers at Aberdeen International AirportPicture: Centre Press

Therapy dog Alaskan malamute Harley has been helping passengers at Aberdeen International AirportPicture: Centre Press

“He is a beautiful dog with such a gentle nature that people warmed to him straight away.

“We shared pictures and videos on the airport social media channels at the time and we actually received a request from a member of the public to meet a member of their family, who was on the autistic spectrum, arriving back from their holiday.

“Harley and Niel toured around the airport and we literally could see passenger’s moods changing and a smile appearing on people’s faces.

“Harley provided a safe point to start conversations and his non-judgemental, accepting nature made him a perfect distraction for some people.

“We are keen to explore further ways of how Harley can be of benefit to passengers travelling through the airport, whether this is linked to busier periods at the airport or tied in to help passengers with hidden disabilities.

“We are looking forward to working more with Niel and Harley and receiving lots more cuddles with our gentle giant.”

The therapy dog was adopted by Niel Chisholm, from Fife, four years ago and is expected to return to Aberdeen Airport in July.