Pet Therapy: Making the airport less stressful and a lot cuter for passengers in Calgary

We all know flying can be stressful. We also know that cuddling up with pets can sooth the soul.

Little wonder the folks at the Calgary Airport Authority have taken those truisms to come up with the perfect antidote for the angst of air travel.

Pre-board pals.


PALS, or Pet Access League Society, is a Calgary-based non-profit volunteer group that brings pet therapy to people who may need a boost. Seniors centres, hospitals, schools, libraries, young offender centres, homeless shelters, and this spring, the group add added the Calgary international airport to its list of sites to visit.

These pooches get the star treatment everywhere they go around YYC, one of Canada’s busiest airports. 

One handler told me her dog falls fast asleep after a day of ear rubs and back pats in the terminal. Plumb tuckered out, she explained. Aren’t we all after a day at the airport?


My 6-year-old daughter was lapping up the playful distraction as we recently waited for a flight.



The concept, which is catching on at airports across the continent, is truly inspired.

Pet therapy has been known to:

  • Reduce anxiety, grief and isolation
  • Reduce blood pressure, depression, and risk of heart attack or stroke
  • Improve social skills and willingness to take part in therapeutic program or group activity
  • Increase trust, empathy and teamwork

Good for people and pets, indeed. And ridiculously adorable.


PALS executive director, Diana Segboer, said the volunteer handlers and dogs couldn’t wait to share “the power of puppy love at YYC.”

The furry friends can generally be found around the airport during peak travel periods Thursday to Saturday.

About the author

Recovering newspaper reporter.

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