Two labradors – Goldie and Pepe – who are trained as therapy dogs are making fliers de-stress at Mumbai airport’s international departure terminal.
Though fliers usually see sniffer dogs at the airport, the two dogs are changing the scenario here.
Goldie and Pepe, who are trained by the Animal Angels Therapy Centre in Pune, sense a person’s mood by sniffing them, said airport officials.
Animal trainers say scientific evidence indicated a reduction in heat rate and blood pressure among travellers when they meet therapy dogs. Rohini Fernandes, founder of Animal Angels Foundation, says, “They help in taking the anxiety of a long flight off people’s mind.”
A Chicago-bound flier was the first person to meet the therapy dogs. He was in bad mood as he had missed his flight owing to a miscommunication with the airline and worse, had come to India after 25 years to bury his mother.
In the feedback form, he wrote:
“What an amazing and needed facet of airports. After a long painful day at the Mumbai airport Goldie and Pepe brought ‘humanity’ into an otherwise dehumanising experience.”
Mumbai airport is perhaps the first in the country to employ the animals to soothe frayed nerves among passengers.
In US after 9/11 attacks, therapy dogs have been used to comfort special children and traumatised adults at airports since after a research showed widespread fear among fliers due to the attack.
A Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) spokesperson, said:
“The feedback to our pilot project which started 10 days ago was overwhelming. People did not expect such an initiative.”
But, Goldie and Pepe should not be overworked immediately. “If a large number of travellers’ take a liking to the service then the airport operator should have more therapy dogs,” said Fernandes.