October 27, 2014 6:35 pm
Updated: October 28, 2014 1:50 am

Edmonton airport welcomes therapy dogs to calm travellers

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Watch above: The Edmonton International Airport has added some therapy dogs to its staff to improve travellers’ moods. Fletcher Kent reports.

EDMONTON – The Edmonton International Airport has a few new employees. Since they’ve started, passengers seem to be happier and less stressed.

The best part? They’re paid in hugs.

Remy is a therapy dog. The animals are often found in hospitals and seniors homes. They’re used to make people enduring difficult situations a little less stressed.

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For the first time in Canada, therapy dogs are being used at an airport.

Last spring, Edmonton International decided to team up with the Pet Therapy Society of Northern Alberta to see if the animals helped ease stress at an airport.

On the dogs’ first day, a winter storm hit.

“Lots of people missed their flights. Flights were delayed and everyone was stressed and from there it took off,” explained Lori Goodwin of the Pet Therapy Society.

Volunteers now take therapy dogs through the terminals three times a week.

“We just want to make everybody smile and have a great day.”

 

Barek Girard could use a smile.

He sat in the Edmonton International Airport for three hours Monday waiting for his flight home to Quebec City. Before that, he worked all night.

Girard is understandably exhausted, but things look up when Remy shows up.

“No one else is coming by to see me so at least the dog is,” he said.

“It’s just a great addition,” said EIA’s Heather Hamilton.

She describes the dogs as “very warm and friendly and people are just loving having them in the airport.”

Helene Guillemette agrees. As she waited for a flight to Toronto, Remy approached her. Guillemette gave the pup a pet and got a kiss in return. Her wait instantly became a little less stressful.

“My spirits are up for sure. It just brings me happiness,” said Guillemette. “And my face is cleaner because she’s licked all the things off.”

Both the airport and the Pet Therapy Society would love to expand the program but they need more volunteers.

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