Pets Unstressing Passengers

Arguably, Los Angeles International Airport is one of the most stressful places in the country. Why not? LAX is the third busiest airport in the U.S. and seventh busiest in the world, serving almost 75 million passengers a year.

And yet LAX is trying to make itself a little less stressful for passengers. Enter Cali.

Cali is one of the airport’s PUPs, Pets Unstressing Passengers. Coming back from vacation, Ginny and I met Cali a few days ago at the Delta terminal of LAX, under extremely stressful circumstances.

A PUP dog’s job is to provide stress relief and comfort to passengers. Therapy dogs and handlers roam gate areas of each terminal, visiting passengers awaiting flights and providing comfort, as well as airport information.

According to the dogs’ website, “Passengers love seeing warm, wet noses and wagging tails that create a friendly, “PAWSitive” experience at LAX!”

Cali and the other PUPs even have their own calling cards, or trading cards, if you like. According to his official bio, Cali is a Pit Bull from Hollygien, California. He was born in June, 2011. He likes beef jerky and his couch. He doesn’t like to bark.

All PUP volunteers and their privately owned dogs are registered with The Alliance of Therapy Dogs, a national organization that insures and supports members who are involved in volunteer animal-assisted activities, like visits to hospitals, special needs centers, schools, nursing homes and for the first time — airports.

Actually, Ginny got more out of our Cali encounter than I did. I’m afraid I was just too stressed to make much of an effort to greet him. At almost the exact moment Ginny spotted Cali, we found out that our (former) travel agent had booked us on a flight from Minneapolis to Grand Forks that no longer existed! True story. We’d be spending an extra night in the cities and booking another flight home to GFK.

I wish I had paid more attention to Cali. At that moment I could have used his services.