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‘Every Dog Has Its Day’ | Houston airports use therapy dogs to help ease stress, anxiety as holiday travel nears pre-pandemic rush

The Houston Airport System will have therapy dogs in the airports during Houston's biggest travel days this Thanksgiving season.

HOUSTON — This Thanksgiving holiday is a steady stream of ‘busy’ at both Houston airports, Bush Intercontinental and Hobby.

If you’re flying during the holiday, you’re going to want to add an extra hour just to navigate through construction and traffic at IAH.

Not budgeting enough time and getting stuck in traffic could really boost anxiety. Crowded check-in counters may also add to the stress. Tack on the fact that this is the first time at an airport during the holidays, during the pandemic, for thousands of travelers. That can add even more stress to the holiday season.

Which is why the Houston Airport System is specifically scheduling its team of therapy dogs to walk airport terminals the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after. Both days are expected to be the single busiest travel days this Thanksgiving season in Houston.

“And I’m so happy. I get goosebumps seeing so many people in our airports,” said Ella Ghica, a customer service expert for Bush International Airport.

She first brought in therapy dogs five years ago.

This Thanksgiving holiday, a brown Labrador named Shotgun is front and center in a crowded airport. “During this pandemic times, our comfort dogs are even more needed,” Ghica said. “There are a lot of first-time fliers.”

A man named Justin and his wife Carolyn shared that they were taking their first holiday trip to New York since the March 2020 start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m a little overwhelmed by the crowds,” Carolyn said. “We just had to board our dogs. So we saw him and got excited to pet him,” she said of her interaction with Shotgun.

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