Therapy Dogs To Greet Travelers At Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport

Published: Saturday, September 2, 2017 - 5:00am
Updated: Saturday, September 2, 2017 - 6:05am
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(Courtesy of Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport)
This friendly pup is one of 20 new Navigator Buddies who will begin doing shifts at the airport starting Monday. The dogs will be in Terminal 4 on and off daily.
(Courtesy of Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport)
Sky Harbor officials know everyone isn't a dog person. That's why Navigator Buddies don't approach people, but instead wait for folks to approach them for hugs and pets.

In addition to free Wi-Fi and a bevy of local restaurants, Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport has added another good reason to arrive early for your flight: you might get to pet a dog. Starting Monday, volunteer pooches and their handlers will begin greeting travelers starting in Terminal 4.

The trained therapy dogs range in size from miniature poodle to Old English Sheepdog, said Misty Cisneros-Contreras, the airport’s customer service manager. The pups go by names like Apollo, Mia, Scotty and Nana.

They’ve all got distinct personalities, she said, including one that’s a big even a big Arizona State University fan.

The dog “knows how to identify anytime she sees a pitch fork,” Cisneros-Contreras said. “And we have other dogs who can wave a lot of dogs who wear great accessories. So, they all bring something special and unique to the program.”

She said airports across the country feature therapy animals — all kinds of animals.

“We know that our friends over at San Francisco Airport have a pet therapy pig, and our friends at the airport in Kentucky have pet therapy miniature horses,” Cisneros-Contreras said. “So we know that other airports have had success with other animals, and so we will definitely discuss that.”

The program, called Navigator Buddies, is still in the pilot stage. The airport plans to train additional dogs early next year.

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