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VIDEO: 'Ambassadogs' are here to wag away fliers' fears

There's something about being greeted by a loving dog.

It brightens the mood at seniors' homes and it's proven to be the perfect stress reliever for people who sometimes get a bit wound-up at the airport.

The Ambassadog program is back at Kelowna International Airport, and the volunteers who make it possible couldn't be happier.

The program started five years ago, but was interrupted by the pandemic.

"It's amazing and rewarding," said Pauline Harmatny from Kelowna Caring Canines. "A dog just seems to calm passengers right down."

Harmatny recalls a four-year-old girl who was so afraid to get on a plane that she had crawled under the seats and was crying in the departure area.

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia

This was a job for her own Canine Ambassador: Jeepster.

"We walked her right to the seat of the aircraft and she calmed right down," said Harmatny.

It was all in a day's work for Jeepster who has been a therapy dog for well over a decade.

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia <who> Jeepster, Ambassadog

"She knows when I get into the car and say 'we're going to work today', she's happy to do it."

Sue Willis from Kelowna Canines volunteers along with her two corgies.

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia

"We just had a little screaming girl," said Willis. "She was screaming so loud even the police officer was coming over to see what was going on."

Toby and Elle came over and sat with her and the whole matter was quickly resolved.

"The kid was super happy by the time we were ready to let them go on their way."

Some travellers have serious fears about getting on a plane.

Others can become highly stressed about complications around delayed flights and other related issues.

The Amassadogs handle either kind with the same dedication.

"There's some passengers that experience a little bit of stress and anxiety when they travel," said YLW Acting Director, Shayne Dyrdal.

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia

"So we were looking for programs to help mitigate that," she said. "Bringing on the Ambassadog Program was a great way to do that."

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia

In the short time that KelownaNow observed the dogs at work, it became clear that it's not just passengers that benefit.

"It's for the passengers, but employees enjoy it as well," said Dyrdal.

Kelowna Caring Canines is looking for more volunteer dogs with helpful owners.

If you think you might be a good fit, you can contact them at caringcanines.ca .



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