Many U.S. airports have brought dogs into gate areas to soothe stressed-out travelers. San Francisco International Airport has gone one step further with a touring pet pig named LiLou, who made her debut Monday.
The airport now claims to have the first known airport therapy pig in the United States.
“She’s so unique and such a charming sweetheart,” spokesman Doug Yakel says. “Her personality is outgoing and willing to greet people.”
And her debut generated some super-cute tweets.
That and her painted red toenails, costume of choice (pilot-style uniform or tutu) and toy piano playing made LiLou an instant hit. And you’re invited to pet her too. “It was like watching an A-list celebrity going through the airport,” Yakel says when LiLou made her first appearance.
She’s a small breed of pig called a Juliana and now a member of the airport’s 3-year-old Wag Brigade, a team of dogs and their volunteer handlers who rove airport terminals in two-hour shifts.
Animals in the program are certified by San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals after passing a program that trains them how to interact with passengers. Like LiLou, the animals wear vests that say “Pet Me!”
Does the Wag Brigade do the trick? Yakel says he tracks thankful comments on social media and watches as the atmosphere at the gate shifts from tense to relaxed when an animal comes through.
LiLou’s schedule with her handlers hasn’t been set, so there’s no guarantee you’ll see her at the airport. However, there may be some surprise visits in the works.
By the way, Los Angeles International Airport has a pet program too. Dogs from PUPs, which stands for Pups Unstressing Passengers, will be roving airport terminals, maybe even with Santa.