Therapy Dogs Pioneering Stress Relief at Bustling Istanbul Airport


In the bustling heart of one of the planet’s most frequented travel hubs, five new employees are patrolling the corridors with unfaltering devotion, seeking to inject a ray of tranquility amid the whirlwind of buses, luggage trolleys, and rush of travelers. This heartening tableau unfolds at Istanbul Airport, with therapy dogs patiently offering their support in the form of snuggles, playful belly rubs, and heartfelt kisses.

Among these four-legged comfort bringers are Kuki and Alita, the two therapy dogs in the spotlight of Istanbul Airport’s pioneering stress-busting initiative. Their mission, along with their three other canine colleagues, is simple: to alleviate the travelers’ stress and anxiety, and make their journey as soothing as possible. This innovative approach underscores Istanbul Airport’s commitment to a pet-friendly environment.

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These furry airport staff members are not ordinary dogs. They are certified therapy dogs with extensive professional training aimed at nurturing their inherent ability to alleviate human anxiety. Their regiments included intensive training programs that centered on desensitization to various stimuli such as noise and bustling human traffic, ensuring their suitability in the teeming airport environment.

After months of rigorous preparations, the Therapy Dog Team was launched into action in late February, under the watchful gaze of Istanbul Airport’s customer experience manager, Kadir Demirtas, who asserted that the dogs’ safety and adaptation to various environments is paramount.

In addition to comforting anxious travelers, these dogs can be seen strolling the airport premises, under the attentive guidance of their handlers. Volkan Arslan, the team’s veterinarian, emphasized that each therapy dog’s work hours are guided by their individual temperaments.

Kuki, a loyal and hardworking Lagotto Romagnolo, forms a vital cog of this therapeutic team. While he is relentless in his duty, he cherishes his time off and occasionally opts for an unscheduled breather – a testament to the patient approach adopted by the airport to ensure the welfare of their unique employees.

The second wing of this Therapy Dog team is Alita, a Border Collie with a strikingly intense gaze and unwavering dedication to her handler. Her calming presence and the tranquilizing impact of her interactions have garnered many admirers among travelers.

Recognized as airport employees, complete with official badges and uniforms, these therapy dogs operate during peak travel hours, with their shifts set from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Seeing the wave of positive responses from travelers, airport officials have begun drawing the blueprint to expand this innovative project, promising to further poetize the hustle and bustle of Istanbul Airport with more wagging tails and reassuring gazes.