These adorable pics of dogs at airports show why pups are the ultimate stress reliever.

Airports are stressful.

Even the most relaxing vacations usually start with you dragging a half-broken suitcase through a maze of terminals and expensive egg sandwiches while removing your shoes in public and wondering if you forgot your neck pillow. (You did.)


You also forgot your headphones. Have a nice flight! Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

Things get way worse if you miss your plane or have to sit through a nine-hour delay. There's only so much CNN a person can watch before they start wanting to punch Wolf Blitzer in the mouth (about 5 minutes by my estimate).

"The most common thing we notice at airports is that most passengers don’t smile at all," says Aakash Lonkar.

Lonkar, a director at Animal Angels Foundation, which specializes in animal-assisted therapy, says there's one thing that always changes people's moods, even at airports: dogs.

"Whenever they see a dog, a natural smile comes on their faces — they keep their bags aside and pet the dogs. The entire mood at the airport changes," Lonkar told The Better India.

This is a picture of a very not-stressed-out person. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

That's why Animal Angels, an non-governmental organization in India, has started bringing dogs to Mumbai Airport (with the airport's permission, of course).

When it comes to animal-assisted therapy, animals are "a catalyst to help the patients help themselves," explains the Animal Angels website. "For example, a child may not want to walk or reach after surgery because it is painful, but will happily take a dog for a walk or throw a ball, forgetting the pain for a little while and moving closer to going home."

Photo from Animal Angels Foundation, used with permission.

While people waiting in line at the airport may not be recovering from surgery, the physical and emotional stress of traveling is no joke, and neither is the healing ability of some animal company. Being able to spend a few minutes with a friendly dog can do wonders to relieve that burden on passengers coming on or off their flights.

So far the group has brought three golden retrievers (named Pepe, Goldie, and Sunshine) to provide some much needed smiles at the busy Terminal T2.

It's a simple solution that has had hugely positive effects — Lonkar even said that some people cry when they see the dogs "because their stress is immediately released."

Photo from Animal Angels Foundation, used with permission.

The stress-relieving abilities of dogs are no secret, and other airlines and airports have run similar programs.

Many studies have found that spending even a short amount of time with a pet can lower blood pressure and stress hormones like cortisol while raising oxytocin, which is linked to happiness and relaxation.

San Jose International Airport was one of the first to introduce the concept of therapy dogs to airports following the events of 9/11. Since then, airports in other cities like Los Angeles and Miami have followed suit.


In 2013, San Francisco International Airport welcomed what it calls the "wag brigade," a legion of adorable dogs whose job it is to be adorable dogs while people are at the airport.


A boy pets a therapy dog at San Francisco International Airport. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

The Dane County Regional Airport in Madison, Wisconsin, also has a therapy dog program — though if you ask me, it's a totally missed opportunity if none of their dogs are Great Danes:

The point is this — dogs are awesome and they make people happy, and it'd be great to see more programs like this at other places too.

There should be dogs at work! There should be dogs when you're studying for finals! There should be dogs at the supermarket to help you deal with that lady in front of you who's somehow in the midst of her very first encounter with a self-checkout machine even though that technology has been around since the early '90s. And there should 100% absolutely and completely be dogs around at the DMV. Just thinking about that place makes me stressed.

Therapy dogs everywhere! C'mon, who's with me?

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Courtesy of Macy's

In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

Courtesy of Macy's

Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

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