Pardon the cutesy headline, but it’s just too perfect for this story. For years, LAX has been known as one of the worst airports in the country. Now it’s employing therapy dogs to help cheer up beleaguered travelers and, if all goes well, repair its image in the process.
The new program is called Pets Unstressing Passengers (or “PUP” for short). The concept is simple: Volunteer handlers take dogs around the airport, introducing them to passengers waiting in long lines. By petting and interacting with the dogs, passengers could become more calm and relaxed – and fidgety children could stay occupied for a short time as well. As reported by the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, there are currently only a few dogs on duty at any given time, but the airport plans to expand the program in the future.
Sound weird? In fact, the stress-relieving benefits of spending time with a dog are well-documented. Since World War II, therapy dogs have been used to aid the rehabilitation of wounded soldiers, comfort victims of natural disasters and other tragedies, and improve the mood of people in nursing homes, hospitals, and schools. In other words, the thinking behind the PUP program makes a lot of sense when you consider the frustrations of travel in general and the problems of LAX in particular.
On the other hand, this is pretty funny when you think about it. You know your business is in trouble when your big customer satisfaction initiative is not to improve service, but to offer your customers therapy. It’s a acknowledgement of sorts that dealing with you is a traumatic event for your customers. If this experiment works, maybe someday we’ll also see therapy dogs at the DMV, cable company, and all those other places that make life miserable.
What do you think? Would having a dog around help you deal with losing your luggage?