Fluffy Recruits: Petting Dogs at Mumbai Airport, a sure Stress Buster!

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Petting a dog for even a few minutes calm us down, said Aakash Lonkar from Angels Foundation, that runs the airport and who was with the dogs over there. “The brain releases a hormone called oxytocin, which has a soothing effect on an individual,” he said—just the shot of sunshine that nervous passengers need. The canines are also terrific with children, help relieve the stress that comes with long layovers. Usually, when airport dogs set their eyes on travellers’ bags, passengers freeze in fear. But since last week, these dogs at Mumbai airport’s international departure terminal have been helping stressed international fliers feel better. Abhilasha, a dog lover, tells us about this wonderful experience, in an exclusive report, in Different Truths.

While waiting tirelessly at the Mumbai Airport T2 terminal, due to a delayed flight, I was weighing my options between splurging on food and splurging on books, when I ran into a huge signboard with a smiling face of a dog which bore the words, ‘Free hugs and wagging tails waiting for you!’ And which pointed towards a door. Being an ardent dog lover, it caught my attention and I walked into the room.

Confused and excited, I turned around to find the meaning of all this when I saw two  dogs with their caretakers. Their names were Pepe and Pearl, both , and were part of the ‘Comforting Angels’ programme for the airport. Pearl, a year-old mischievous puppy, and Pepe, a more laid-back 5-year- old were calling all the passengers to them. I was also told that there were two more, who were on the rounds and they were called Sunshine and Goldie. I spent a good part of an hour with them, playing, petting and hugging them (and somehow wishing to take them away with me). These dogs are well taken care of by their trainers Aakash, Gayatri and Harshita.

Petting a dog for even a few minutes calm us down, said Aakash Lonkar from Animal Angels Foundation, that runs the airport programme and who was with the dogs over there. “The brain releases a hormone called oxytocin, which has a soothing effect on an individual,” he said—just the shot of sunshine that nervous passengers need. The canines are also terrific with children, help relieve the stress that comes with long layovers. In fact, while I was there I saw a little boy scared of dogs desperately fighting an urge to pet them. It was only a matter of few minutes when one of the caretakers sat down with him to help him pet Pepe and I had a small cute attack when I saw Pepe curl up in the little boy’s lap only to doze off! Somethings just fill your heart without trying.

 

Usually, when airport dogs set their eyes on travellers’ bags, passengers freeze in fear. But since last week, these dogs at Mumbai airport’s international departure terminal have been helping stressed international fliers feel better.

San Francisco International Airport opened the first ever yoga space within an airport. New Delhi’s Indira International Airport has sleep pods – tiny cabins, equipped with Wi-Fi, a TV, DVD player and charging points where you can take a nap, in peace and , without the fear of someone running away with your belongings. And now Mumbai’s T2 terminal has an adorable response to the fear of flying: golden retrievers! Therapy dogs Goldie, Pepe, Pearl and Sunshine are the fluffy new recruits at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, trained to be stress-busters for ‘white-knuckled passengers’ as Nat Geo Traveller calls them.

Animal Angels Foundation is the first organisation in India working in the field of animal-assisted therapy. Through animal-assisted therapy, their specially trained therapy pets assist them in helping children and adults learn or improve various skills and in speeding up the recovery process. They practice animal-assisted therapy in the areas of developmental disorders, psychiatric disorders, physical disabilities, physical illnesses and behavioural/emotional problems.

A therapy dog is one that is trained to provide comfort and affection to individuals in nursing homes, , schools, hospices and other areas. Therapy dog breeds are also useful for children, who have and various learning disabilities. What makes a therapy dog different from a service dog, such as those utilised by individuals with physical disabilities, is that they typically do not perform tasks. Because all that is required from them is an even temperament and a surplus of love and affection. So, next time you’re stranded on an airport or mourning your lost luggage, seek out one of these buddies to help chillax!

Traditionally dogs were dependant on humans, looks like now they are returning the favour!

©Abhilasha Trivedi

Photos by author.

Abhilasha Trivedi

Abhilasha Trivedi

Rolling stone, astral traveller, forever learning, mom of two. Loves Music Books Travelling and photography. Finds inspiration in everyday trivia. Holding on to a long bucket list!!. Few close friends include a dog. Abhilasha is a yoga enthusiast and loves photography.She is a real Mumbaiker at heart.
Abhilasha Trivedi
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