New puppy on board as therapy dog program expands

May 24, 2019

Townsville Airport’s successful therapy dog program is set to be expanded, with a gorgeous new puppy joining the program.

The first regional airport in Australia to host a therapy dog program when it launched in April last year, Townsville Airport is again teaming up with Sensitive Companions to fund the purchase and training of a male Alaskan Malamute pup. The pup will join Tink and Alika in the terminal when he is trained and ready.

The four-month old puppy – named Nodin – travelled from Victoria to his new home in Townsville last month.

Under the care of his new mum, Sensitive Companions founder Chris Randall, the puppy has completed his vaccinations and is now able to be shown off to the public.

Townsville Airport Chief Operating Officer Kevin Gill said the airport was focused on doing what it could to improve the customer experience and the Sensitive Companions program was a key part of that effort.

“The response we get from our passengers when they spot the therapy dogs in the terminal is incredible,” he said.

“You can literally see the mood of the terminal lift and peoples’ faces light up with smiles when they spot Chris walking through the terminal with her dogs. It’s really transformational.”

Townsville Airport General Manager Commercial Isabelle Yates said it was exciting to welcome a new puppy to the team.

“We are delighted with the success of our therapy dog program, which was introduced in the terminal a year ago to help passengers who experience nerves or anxiety when flying, or who may suffer from PTSD,” she said.

“The program has been so successful that not only have we renewed our contract with Sensitive Companions, we are funding its expansion with the adoption of this new puppy. We can’t wait to have him trained and ready to go in the terminal.”

Ms Yates said while the therapy dogs had been overwhelmingly well received by the travelling public, an unexpected bonus had been the positive affect of the program on airport staff.

“We always knew our passengers would love the therapy dogs because they are just so beautiful,” she said.

“But we have been really surprised by how much our staff have embraced the program and how much they appreciate it. Everyone has their good and their bad days and we find the dogs really help staff cope with the long and busy days in the airport.”

Sensitive Companions founder Chris Randall said she was over the moon with how well Nodin was settling into his new home.

“He is such a beautiful puppy and really calm in nature. He loves to come up to us and really wants to snuggle in,” she said.

“I am so pleased with how he is going already and can’t wait until he is ready to come and lend a helping paw in the terminal.”

Ms Randall said she was genuinely excited at how well the program had gone in its first year of operation.

“It’s been amazing to watch how much people love the dogs,” she said.

“Countless people have just come up to us and really opened up their heart and soul to us. It’s incredible to see how the dogs really touch people’s hearts in such a deep way. Young teens and adults just love the dogs, they often have tears in their eyes when they meet him.”

If his training and development goes according to plan, Nodin is expected to start his rounds at the airport around the time of his first birthday early next year.

The therapy dogs are in the terminal on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings from 10am to 12pm.

Nodin’s Tale:

Born: 13/01/2019

Breed: Alaskan Malamute

Favourite thing: Chewing sticks and shoes

Special abilities: Sitting still, rolling in mud after 8pm at night, chasing frogs, snuggle