Everyone could use a hug sometimes, especially when dealing with the stress of traveling. And if that hug comes from a cuddly puppy, even better. At Sydney Airport, American Airlines has begun a program that is sure to please nervous or stressed fliers and dog lovers alike. According to Fox 8 Cleveland, American Airlines and nonprofit organization Assistance Dogs Australia have teamed up for a new initiative called emBark, a program that will station adorable puppies at airline counters for limited times during the week for customers to give a quick cuddle before their flight.
Puppies can be found at the American Airlines check-in desks at Sydney Airport from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Clearly, puppies are better than a morning coffee. The new initiative is meant to raise awareness and expose more people to the wonderful, life-changing effects that service dogs can give to people with physical disabilities, PTSD or autism, according to Fox 8. Hopefully, the program will encourage customers to support the work of Assistance Dogs Australia as well.
But the dogs are also getting something out of it (other than constant attention). According to The Daily Telegraph, all the puppies stationed at the check-in desks are in training to become assistance dogs, so the exposure will help them learn skills like socialization, staying calm in hectic environments, and navigating places with elevators and escalators. It takes about two years and $35,000 to train one puppy for the assistance program, The Daily Telegraph reported, so raising awareness and potential for donations is key to helping Assistance Dogs Australia.
American Airlines also works with Assistance Dogs International for its Puppies In Flight training program.