Airline Unleashes Hundreds Of Comfort Dogs On Stressed Holiday Travelers
Christmas comings and goings got you down? Looking for a little lift at the airport?
Rejoice. United Airlines is releasing the hounds. Or golden retrievers.
Around 230 comfort dogs will be stationed at airports around the U.S., offering harried holiday travelers some much-needed paws.
The program, dubbed United Paws, aims to de-frazzle the Christmas commuter through tactical deployment of straight-up golden retriever goodness at seven airports - Chicago O'Hare, Cleveland Hopkins, Denver International, Houston Intercontinental, Los Angeles International, Newark International and Washington Dulles.
The dogs, mostly golden retrievers, are trained as comfort animals and hail from New Jersey-based nonprofit Creature Comfort Pet Therapy.
"Research shows that just petting a dog releases oxytocin, the hormone associated with bonding and affection, and also decreases levels of stress, helps us breathe easier and lowers our blood pressure," said veterinary consultant Dr. Walter Woolf in a press release.
Anyone who has ever had a dog will, of course, greet the news with a resounding duh.
And maybe wonder why the program isn't extended all-year round. After all, study after study has extolled a dog's virtues in easing stress.
Decompression, thy name is dog.
The comfort dogs arrive just in time for one of the busiest holiday travel seasons ever. A study conducted by trade group Airlines for America cites a sizable surge in seasonal traffic - 73,000 more passengers between December 18 and January 3, compared to last year.
In all, some 38 million people will take to the skies over that stretch. There's no better time to be feeling all warm and furry. Sadly, the dogs will be gone by Christmas Eve, begging a truly timeworn question from airlines. Can we keep it?