Audrey the therapy dog flies


A while ago one of our Community Therapy Dogs volunteers, Amy, contacted me about a flight to Winnipeg she was planning, to visit her mom who was sick. She was anxious to take her therapy dog, Audrey, with her knowing how much her mom enjoyed visiting with her. Knowing about my involvement with both therapy and service dogs, Amy asked me what the protocol was for dogs travelling in the cabin rather than in the hold. I said that therapy dogs, unfortunately, did not legally have the same access to the cabin that service dogs did but there was nothing to be lost by asking the airline.

dog article 74The next day Amy, who wanted to fly with Westjet, contacted the airline to see what their protocol was for dogs to be allowed in the cabin, knowing Audrey was too big to fit in a crate underneath the seat. Crossing her fingers but expecting push back, Customer Service informed her that they were intrigued to learn exactly how Audrey helped the community as a therapy dog and, if someone from Community Therapy Dogs could write to them explaining what Audrey did, they would consider the option of having Audrey in the cabin with Amy.

Within hours I wrote a letter to Westjet explaining how Audrey helps both students and seniors in her work as a therapy dog and emailed it to them. Once Westjet recognized the value that Audrey was bringing to people, they did not hesitate to allow Audrey to fly with her “mom” in the cabin. This was a huge weight off of Amy’s mind knowing that Audrey would not be confined to the hold.

So the day of the flight arrives and off they go to the airport. They check in, board the plane and Audrey duly sits at Amy’s feet, awaiting take off. Being the gentle dog she is, Audrey takes the flight in her stride and soon falls asleep. Part way through the flight, the in-flight supervisor announces to the passengers that Audrey, the therapy dog, is flying with us today and gives the row and seat number for those passengers that would like to visit with Audrey! There was also much interest from the flight attendants as well, showing that wherever Audrey goes she brings joy to those that meet her.

Audrey is a 5 year old Bernedoodle.

Too many times in today’s world, companies are only mentioned when something negative happens. It meant a huge amount to Amy for Westjet to accommodate Audrey in the cabin and to provide their legendary customer service throughout. Well done Westjet!

About the author

Steve King

Steve King

Steve King was President and Founder of Community Therapy Dogs Society, a volunteer with Lions Foundation of Canada and a dog trainer.

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