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Therapy dog teams turn travel stress into smiles at Salt Lake City International Airport

Funviralpark 2 years ago 0 6

Estimated duration: 4-5 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY – Traveling on vacation can be very stressful, especially when there is a mix of delays and cancellations. It gives people a reason to relax.

The hustle and bustle of vacation travel can devolve into chaos, with long waits at airports, flight delays, and picky kids locked at the gate.

So one day during the winter season, a group of four-legged furballs roamed the terminals at Salt Lake City International Airport, trying to hand out some love.

“Would you like to meet the dogs?” Cindy Jorgasson asked as she and two others approached a group of people waiting at the airport.

Jorgasson had a leash on the other side with Ardi, a 3.5-year-old Great Pyrenees dog. Susan Danes walked in with her golden retriever, Kingsley.

“Come on, hello!” she said as a young man approached and crouched down to pet the 2.5-year-old puppy.

The group toured to ease anxiety and turn stress into smiles.

“Oh, he’s adorable!” two women yelled as they approached 7-year-old Newfoundland Gus and his human, Steve Razkow. The women smiled at a large bear-like boy who wore socks to keep his feet from slipping on the floor and a bib that read, “No, I’m not a bear.”

“You like it, don’t you?” the woman said in a baby-like voice, scratching Gus’s back nicely.

Some were afraid to approach, thinking Best meant the trio were service dogs.

“We’re with Intermountain Therapy Animals,” she said to a couple with a baby. I can do it.”

“Wow!” the woman replied.

“Great!” the man echoed.

ITA’s airport animal coordinator, Jorgasson, explained how the ITA team volunteers at the airport every week, including during vacations.

“For some people who are nervous about flying, just having a dog sit with them can lower their blood pressure and help them relax,” she said.

Jorgathon has been with ITA for 10 years and has been at the airport for about 9 years.

After experiencing animal therapy, she explained that this is how she can help others.

“I’m a cancer survivor, but the dog I had at the time didn’t leave my side,” Jorgasson said. “I wanted to pay it forward, so he became my first therapy dog.”

Dogs from Intermountain Therapy Animals provide reassurance to people in stressful places such as airports while on vacation. (Photo: Clarissa Hutchinson, KSL-TV)

ITA teams such as Yorgason and Ardi travel everywhere: hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, mid- and final-week colleges, and other locations for special events. ITA operates a Reading Education Assistance Dog Program. In this program, children read to therapy dogs to build confidence while improving literacy and communication skills.

She and Luzkow said visiting the airport during such stressful times is especially rewarding.

“It’s really nice to see the relief on the faces of people who are stressed, have long flights, have long waits for planes and aren’t happy, when they see the gas,” Ruskow said. Told. “It’s just instant, and it’s amazing.”

“Employees, flight attendants, pilots, it doesn’t matter who they are.

The group approached a group of people inside the terminal, including Daniel Pelmore. She had just flown in from Las Vegas.

“Hello baby!” she exclaimed as Gus approached her and she stroked his face.

Pelmore’s travel day was fairly easy, but it was still a joy for her to see the dogs.

Cindy Yorgason is the Airport Animal Coordinator for Intermountain Therapy Animals. Dogs provide a sense of security to people in stressful places such as airports while on vacation.
Cindy Yorgason is the Airport Animal Coordinator for Intermountain Therapy Animals. Dogs provide a sense of security to people in stressful places such as airports while on vacation. (Photo: Clarissa Hutchinson, KSL-TV)

“It’s like, I was so happy to see them,” she expressed. “Because I was like, ‘Oh my gosh!'”

An airport employee pushing a woman in a wheelchair approaches the group, causing both women’s faces to light up.

A woman in a wheelchair who was being treated for an ankle injury sat on the ground and petted her dog, laughing.

Airport employees recognized the chunky Newfoundland from other airport visits and meowed.

“Thank you guys!” said the airport employee, giving Gus a final pat on the head. “Goodbye, Gas Gas!”

The Intermountain Therapy Animal Team hangs out inside the terminal and by the gate. When travelers see a dog in a red ITA vest and a human handler in a red ITA shirt together, they are encouraged to stop and say hello and feel relieved. increase.

Learn more about ITA here.

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Lauren Steinbrecher

Lauren Steinbrecher is an Emmy Award-winning reporter and multimedia journalist who joined KSL in December 2021.

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