Who let the dogs in?

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When news reached the Moodie Blog that Aberdeen International Airport has become the first UK airport to introduce a dog therapy team, my ears pricked up. So did those of my trusty golden Labrador Mickali (full, and apt, name Mickali Whispering Wind but let’s not go there).

The Scottish airport is deploying a team of 14 dogs, called the Canine Crew, across the terminal, including retail and food & beverage, to allay the fears of anxious flyers. The scheme has been devised in partnership with Therapet, a service from Canine Concern Scotland Trust.

The Canine Crew, will be easily identifiable, the airport said, in their high-vis jackets and bandanas (the four legs, fur, wagging tails and whiskers might also help). The dogs are already regular visitors to nursing homes, schools, prisons and universities, where they have been proven to improve mental health and wellbeing, alleviate stress and calm nerves.

Aberdeen International Airport’s own Therapets prepare to take their bow-wow.

Trustee of the charity and area representative for Aberdeenshire North Therapet Diane Wood explained: “The mere action of stroking a dog slows down the heartbeat and reduces blood pressure so they will be a great help to anyone feeling nervous about their journey.”

The Canine Crew visiting the airport will initially comprise:

  • Breagh the Golden Retriever with owner Diane Wood
  • Bruno the German Shepherd with owner Fiona Watts
  • Grace the Scottish Deerhound with owners Bill and Carole Ledingham
  • Enzo the Red Labrador with owner Clair Petrie
  • Noodle the Beagle with owner Amy McKenzie
  • Tweedie Bear the German Shepherd with owner Julie Duguid
  • Zosha/Vinnie the Leonberger with owner Kelly Wiseman
  • Cullen the Beagle with owner Emma Ritchie
  • Bronte the Golden retriever with owner Jacqui Finnie
  • Pax the Utonagan with owner Paul Higgins
  • Shuna the Lurcher with owner Morag Forrest
  • Bentley the Golden Retriever with owner Colin Finnie
  • Luna the Collie with owner Karen Douglas
  • Doug the Pug with owners Kate and Sean Broadley

What a brilliant idea. At The Moodie Davitt Report’s former HQ (still owned by us but leased out), my canine companion Mickali was a regular visitor. She would lie under my desk but regularly walk around the office seeking attention from all the team. Her party trick, as with many Labradors, was to roll over on her back to have her tummy rubbed. No breaking news story was too important to justify a lack of attention from a team member; after all, she was the only newshound that mattered. Ala, the landlords of our new HQ have a strict ‘no pets’ policy, a short-sighted view if ever there was one.

Mickali ‘Whispering Wind’.
Mickali auditions for a job with Therapets.

Given our focus on commercial revenues, I’ll be watching the impact of the canine crew on Aberdeen Airport’s retail and F&B revenues in particular.

Just think what Noodle the Beagle will do for pasta sales; Luna the Collie for vegetables on the side; or Bruno the German Shepherd for Alsation wine. And what about Zosha/Vinnie the Leonberger? The brilliant Leon fast food restaurant is in several airports and surely Aberdeen must be next. With Zosha/Vinnie in situ, who could possibly say no to a Leon burger?

Noodle the Beagle tries out for a seeing-eye dog role at World Duty Free.

I would deploy Bronte in WHSmith’s books department; Bentley at the car hire counter; and Tweedie Bear in World Duty Free’s plush toy section. Breagh the Golden Retriever should push up sales of Breguet watches while that adorable Utonagan called Pax of course will be there to help everyone. I’d advise them to add a Doberman to discourage shoplifters as nobody likes a Pinscher. Brands could get in on the act too. Mars could sponsor a Maltese, Nestlé a Yorkipoo, and Diageo a Maltapoo. And your favourite travel retail publisher? A Mudi of course.

All this canine action naturally needs a good soundtrack over the airport tannoy. And I know the perfect thing. Sesame Street did a brilliant parody of the John Lennon, Paul McCartney-written ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’, which Joe Cocker had a smash hit with. The Sesame Street version was called ‘With a Little Yelp From My Friends’. It was recorded by Moe Cocker, yes, a Cocker Spaniel. Coming to an airport near you soon.

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