Welcome Waggin' Hopes To Relax Travelers At TIA
TULSA, Oklahoma - A trip to the airport is not always a prescription for relaxation. After ticketing and security checks, there’s the waiting.
Tulsa International has joined a growing list of airports using a kind of pet therapy, as in “pet the dog” therapy. The program is called Welcome Waggin’.
Sarah Belle is a two-year-old Great Pyrenees who is certified by the Alliance of Therapy Dogs. She patrols the various public area of the airport offering passengers a little stress relief.
Her partner in this effort is Shirley Johnson who says the airport is not Sarah’s only gig. “She also does hospital and hospice work and cancer work too,” said Johnson.
Tulsa International is the 61st airport to employ animals to help passengers.
“You get here two hours early, then you wait, and wait and wait”, Johnson says.
Sarah is a hit. She and Shirley could walk no more than a few steps before someone insisted on scratching Sarah’s head or stroking her back.
Kids are the best, the most eager to participate. Not all airport dogs are pet-able. Service dogs and police dogs are always hands off, but Sarah’s just the opposite.
The program is new so therapy dogs are only at the airport a few days a week. Eventually, TIA hopes to have dogs and their handlers there from morning ‘til evening every day.