The “wag brigade” brings cheer to airport travelers

Meeting “Luke” at Sacamento Airport

I was going to skip Spring Training for 2019, thanks to the Giants’ front-office turmoil  and lackluster performance. I guess I’m a fair-weather fan after all, because I like to go to Dodgers and Cubs games too. On top of that, I’ve been traveling a lot — for pure pleasure.

But I couldn’t resist the warm weather this week in Arizona while it was raining at home, so I traded some airline miles for a plane ticket from Sacramento to Phoenix.

It will be a working “vacation,” but I’ll also watch some games, go swimming and enjoy some favorite restaurants, ranging from Barrio Queen to Vincent on Camelback (I own chef-owner Vincent Guerithault’s cookbook; he’s a local legend).

I was glad to book a trip out of Sacramento instead of SFO. I’m a dog lover, so I also enjoyed petting a Golden Retriever named “Luke” before take off (see photo).

Sacramento has a program that provides dogs “whose temperament makes them suitable for the noisy, crowded environments of an airport terminal,” as the program states.

“The B.A.R.C. (Boarding and Relaxation Corp.) program is aimed at reducing stress and adding to the enjoyment of passengers,” according to Sacramento County’s website. “Visitors will recognize a B.A.R.C. handler by their navy blue vest and their canine will also wear a navy blue vest that says, ‘PET ME.’

“Lend a Heart ensures that dogs have undergone obedience training, are spayed or neutered, and are up-to-date on vaccinations. They evaluate the handlers and their dogs before certifying them as animal-assisted therapy animals. Dogs are required to be cleaned and groomed prior to visiting.”

Currently, there are similar programs in an estimated 30 U.S. airports, including SFO (where the dogs are called the “wag brigade”).

I enjoyed meeting “Luke” before take off. Luke let me pet him, and he rolled on his back for more scratching (like our dog). In this era of hurried air travel, it’s a delightful distraction.


Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

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