Therapy Dogs Calm Holiday Travelers at Newark Airport

By Erin Delmore

Working dogs are no strangers to airports, but these dogs have only one job — to put a smile on travelers’ faces.

“Well, I love dogs. Mine just passed away. So I think I want to buy another dog, or just adopt. They’re really awesome and really sweet. She hasn’t let me go for the whole time I’ve been standing here,” said Nadia Wilson.

Wilson is an Army human resource specialist based in Germany, on her way home for the holidays. Brian Yoon is headed to Mexico. A Great Dane named Bear stopped him dead in his tracks.

What was he thinking as he walked up to Bear?

“Should I be nervous?” Yoon laughed. “Honestly, cute dog, but I know if he really wanted to, he could probably take me down.”

But Bear has no interest in taking Yoon down. Hugs and kisses are what’s on the agenda. These working dogs are sharing the love for young, old, even reporters.

These furry creatures are a welcome sight for harried travelers.

These “United Pups” are on loan to Newark Airport’s Terminal C ahead of the holidays to ease travel stress, calm some nerves and lend a little holiday cheer.

“Well I’m a dog lover and for us, people don’t realize we’re away from our families, so I miss my dog at home, so these guys are my surrogates when I’m on the road,” said United Airlines Pilot Matt Brown.

Brown ran into a group of therapy dogs last year at Dallas Fort Worth Airport. The New Jersey contingent hails from Creature Comfort Pet Therapy in Morris Plains.

“Therapy dogs, they’re a level between a household dog and what I consider a service dog that you might see with seeing eye. And they’re just very well-behaved dogs that put a smile on people’s faces, simply there to relieve a little but of stress, to make them feel at ease. Again, just to give them a warm and fuzzy feeling about a dog they may have had long ago or if they’re away from home. Maybe the dog that they’re remembering they left at home, so it’s just a feel good moment,” said Erick Spronck of Creature Comfort Pet Therapy.

“I was interested because I ran into a golden retriever in an airport and I loved the dog so much that I said I had to have one,” said Penny Bolden.

“This is our third year of Creature Comfort Pet Therapy coming back in for Untied Paws and part of the reason is we have over 200 volunteers within our organization and we’ve been an organization for five years. We’ll provide 60 teams here over the next three days. This is the third year doing this for United Paws so it’s a huge success for everybody,” Spronck said.

And just in case these dogs aren’t for everybody, the pups are stationed off to one spot in the airport, after security and before the gates.

“One of the things I tell them is, with pet therapy dogs, while we may not be saving lives, but if nothing else we’re putting smiles on people’s faces and sometimes that goes long enough and that’s all that they need,” Spronck said.