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My flight was delayed, and the chances of getting home in time for some evening plans were getting slimmer by the minute. After checking the flight monitor, I headed back to waiting area. That's when I ran into Gracie.

Gracie, an airport therapy dog, was making her rounds, checking on travelers and stopping when someone wanted to pet her. Her role as a therapy dog is to help anyone who’s stressed about traveling.

Besides being cute and cuddly, dogs are great at helping relieve stress. Numerous studies have shown the positive health impacts of petting a dog – blood pressure goes down, heart rate slows, etc. So it just makes common sense to use dogs to help people in airports. Dogs have also been used in hospitals, nursing homes, and even college campuses to help calm anyone in a stressful situation.

Why are dogs so good at being a calming force? I think the answer is trust.

For the most part, our relationship with dogs is one built on trust. We trust our dogs to be loving and loyal, and our dogs trust us to love them and care for them. Yes, there are situations where people just don’t like dogs, and, let’s face it, some dogs are vicious. In those situations, the trust has been broken, and for whatever reason, the person or the dog no longer feels safe.

Trust is an important value in society. When we feel we can no longer trust something, we become cynical and harsh. We question everything about the person or institution.

There's a lot we are questioning in our society today – whether it's politics, news, or even companies. It's all pretty stressful. Maybe we just need to pet a dog.

– By Catherine Mueller

 

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