Travel can be a stressful experience, even at the best of times. With flight delays and long lines at security checkpoints. But if you are passing through San Francisco International Airport, you just might run into the Wag Brigade. What is the Wag Brigade, you may ask? A pack of 22 adorable dogs and one precious pig named Lilou, ready to melt away all your fears about flying!
The airport first introduced the program in 2013 in partnership with the San Francisco SPCA. Initially, passengers were introduced to dogs certified by the Animal Assisted Therapy Program. Today, you can see the adorable animals running around to help improve your mood. When the program was created, the main goal was to relax passengers, but they also found a way to connect with them. This is the first airport to have a therapy pig, a 5-year-old Juliana pig, Lilou.
The idea for the Wag Brigade at the airport came about after September 11, 2001, when an airport employee brought his therapy dog to work with him. That day, he was able to see his dog relieve the tension and stress of the people around him. Today, if you travel through the gates of SFO, you’ll likely catch a glimpse of the Wag Brigade.
It has been proven that petting a dog can lower blood pressure and make people happy and calmer. When a Wag Brigade animal walks through the terminal, people look up from their devices and start interacting with each other, and they start interacting with the dog, and it puts a smile on everyone’s face. The dogs love it, and it’s nice to see how positively people react to the dogs. It’s incredible to see people at the airport who are traveling and missing their own animals find some comfort this way. Travel is stressful, so any distraction that can be provided to travelers is very positive. A few years later, many airports in the U.S. have picked up on the trend and offer similar therapy animal programs.