Anxious and stressed travelers passing through San Francisco International Airport now have a new way to calm their nerves thanks to the airport's newest member of the Wag Brigade.
The airport introduced LiLou, a therapy pig, as the first non-canine member of the Wag Brigade, a group of nearly two dozen trained therapy dogs that walk around the airport greeting travelers in an effort to ease the stress of traveling. Travelers are encouraged to pet the dogs as a way to bring comfort and to quell any fears of flying.
LiLou, a spotted Juliana pig, has now joined the ranks of the group, roaming terminals in costumes and entertaining guests. Sometimes she twirls and stands on her back legs while wearing a tutu, and other times she plays a toy piano, USA Today reported.
"Since its launch in 2013, the SFO Wag Brigade has become a favorite amenity among travelers," Christopher Birch, director of guest experience, said in a news release announcing LiLou's admission to the Wag Brigade. "With the addition of LiLou, we can look forward to more moments of surprise and delight for guests at our airport."
"I can see that she is happy showing off her tricks and getting her praise," LiLou's owner, Tatyana Danilova, told USA Today. "It also brings positive emotions to me seeing that we can do something good for the community and bring more smiles in some unconventional way."
LiLou visits the airport at least once a month, according to airport spokesman Doug Yakel, who also said that the airport has been working with the San Fransisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to expand the types of animals included on the Wag Brigade. Lilou, who will turn 2 on Dec. 15, is the first pig to be certified in the Animal Assisted Therapy Program of the San Francisco SPCA.
The SFSPCA requires that "At a minimum, AAT pets must be solicitous and fully comfortable with handling. In other words, pets must be interested in and eager to approach people and accept handling, regardless of the person's age, gender, race, size, mobility equipment usage and apparel."
According to Conde Nast Traveler, more than 30 airports nationwide have programs that feature therapy dogs, and the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport has brought in miniature horses in a similar effort.
See more of LiLou, who has dressed as a nurse, a pilot and a fairy, on her Instagram account.
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