While travelling through airports, one usually spots sniffer dogs with burly security personnel, whose presence rings security alarms in one’s head. But imagine man’s best four-legged friend being hugged, kissed, cuddled and pampered by passengers. Such a heart-warming sight. It suddenly makes you forget the perils and stresses of modern-day flying and connects you with your softer side, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
Several US airports have long been placing therapy dogs to alleviate the heightened fear of flying after 9/11. In fact, not just in airports, but animal-assisted therapy and intervention is extremely popular in special schools, old-age homes and hospitals as well. Interaction with these gorgeous creatures is known to improve a person’s cognitive, social and emotional functioning.
I’m delighted that the Mumbai International Airport recently took the initiative of introducing three Golden Retrievers as part of a pet therapy programme to assuage the stress levels of harried and frazzled passengers. I was chatting with my friend Alkesh who recently dashed to the airport after a traumatic day at work and was lucky to spot the trio, after immigration. He said he felt relaxed and at peace after playing with the furry, friendly angels, which, not surprisingly, have an enormous number of fans queued up for hugs.
Research shows that just petting a dog releases a hormone called oxytocin, which is associated with bonding and affection, and alleviates stress levels and blood pressure. Little wonder, Alkesh added, that even airport employees and passengers who weren’t entirely dog-loving, were still petting the gentle dogs with a broad smile and going their way.
I’m gutted that I’ve missed spotting Pepe, Sunshine and Pearl on all my recent departures out of the city airport. A die-hard dog lover like me would have probably forgotten about the flight while playing with the adorable canines. I told myself how lovely the latter must feel to be showered with endless human love through the day. Who needs a business class lounge to relax when these beauties are ready to love you unconditionally with tail-wags and generous licks!
1) Whether our PM has ever heard a Coldplay song in his life is a big question mark, but his likely presence at the forthcoming Coldplay concert in Mumbai is sure to invite sardonic one-liners, also given that the British music band does not stand for anything that is Hindutva. The cheapest tickets for the keenly awaited show cost INR 5,000 and the pricier ones go up to beyond INR 50,000, and yet they’re selling like hot cakes despite the news that the band won’t be on stage for more than half an hour or so. I tweeted that it’s becoming scary to meet people these days because I only get asked if I can use my good offices to organise tickets. So intense is the obsession for Coldplay that for once no one seems to be remotely interested in the huge Bollywood roster that will open the show.
2) She’s credited with breaking up the world’s greatest band, yet John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, asserts that her memoirs won’t mention The Beatles. She specifies that the new book is only about her and her achievements. Will be a short one then.
3) Olympic legend Usain Bolt is in the news for a different kind of sprinting. Following his sleazy romp with the several escorts he took back to his hotel room in London, his girlfriend Kasi Bennett put up a catty comment on Instagram: “When your girl is Selfridges, you cheat on her with Primark.” But going by pictures of what he took home, looks like Bolt had scraped a bargain bin than Primark.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 22nd, 2016.