LaGuardia Airport’s therapy dogs are very good boys
By Anna Sanders
January 27, 2018 | 4:11pm | Updated
Flying out of LaGuardia Airport is ruff but these therapists will perk you right pup.
Frustrated fliers can find some stress relief amid Terminal B’s construction chaos with therapy dogs roaming the gates there every Friday afternoon.
Wiry Italian Greyhound Ziggy, 8, and grinning black lab Buddy, 11, tag-teamed the terminal last Friday to make sure passengers don’t go barking mad.
“They make the airport — especially this airport — more bearable and less LaGuardia-ish,” said Darlene Collins, a 45-year-old from Greenwich, Conn., as she travelled to Canada with her three kids, who stopped to pet a wide-eyed and excitable Ziggy while mom checked everyone in.
“If there’s a kid having a tantrum and they see a dog, they’ll snap out of it,” Collins said.
The dogs are meant for adult tantrums, too.
Ziggy and Buddy are part of the airport’s ongoing efforts to keep everyone’s mind off the turbulent more than $4 billion redevelopment of Terminal B, where most airlines operate.
LaGuardia Gateway Partners, the terminal’s operator and developer, has even used bands and an improv and juggling crew called the “Fun Squad” to distract travellers from the disjointed construction.
The dogs form what they’re calling a “Comfort Crew.” After petting the pups, kids and others get trading cards with the dog’s photo and name.
The canines are graduates of the therapy program at animal welfare nonprofit Bideawee, where pets and their owners are trained to visit nursing homes, schools and other businesses. Dog handlers volunteer their time at the airport. A LaGuardia Gateway Partners spokeswoman said it provides financial support to Bideawee in exchange for the volunteer work, but declined to say how much.
The rotating pack of six therapy dogs were first deployed to soothe holiday travellers during Thanksgiving week, but the program was extended after LaGuardia Gateway Partners saw how much people enjoyed petting and playing with them.
“Love them!” said Rebecca Cabrera, a 33-year-old flight attendant from Forest Hills, Queens, who optimistically predicted the pooches will cut down the number of ornery passengers on her flights. “It’s very stressful to travel, to get through security,” she said. “Petting an animal is supposed to calm you down. Hopefully that will remind people to relax when they’re on board.”
Thomas Durrenberger, a 32-year-old visiting the city for work, spent a few minutes snuggling with Ziggy before going through security.
“I’m not a therapy kind of dude,” he said. “But it’s nice to see dogs.”
They almost work too well.
Chis Stepien, 24, had to pry himself from Ziggy and Buddy before jetting off.
“I wish I didn’t have to get on my flight so I could play with them,” the Chicago man said