San Francisco International Airport’s Wag Brigade latest addition, Lilou the pig, is proving a massive hit with passengers in the airport’s busiest terminals. The newest addition to the airport’s Animal Assisted Therapy programme was brought on board at the end of last year.
Although many airports such as LAX and MIA have introduced therapy dogs into their terminals, SFO expanded their program to include non-canine member Lilou in December. Intended “to make passenger travel more enjoyable” the Wag Brigade brings trained therapy dogs (and now a pig) to airport terminals to help alleviate visitor’s travel-induced anxiety and frustrations. The small, colorful Juliana-breed pig is the first porcine member of the team
Lilou has prior experience bringing good cheer to places where it’s needed most. “The SPCA contacted us to advise that LiLou’s owner/hander Tatyana, who was already volunteering at hospitals and senior centers, was interested in coming out to the airport,” said Doug Yakel, SFO’s Public Information Officer. “We scheduled an airport orientation visit (standard for all incoming Wag Brigade hopefuls), found it to be a good fit, and the rest is history.”
Hypoallergenic and temperamentally-vetted by the SPCA, Lilou provides a cheerful, albeit somewhat unexpected surprise to travelers with her smiling snout, wagging tail, and painted little hooves. In addition to the Wag Brigade “Pet Me!” vest uniform, Lilou is often dressed in a variety of costumes from a pink ballerina tutu to a pilot’s hat. Giving new meaning to the term ‘hamming it up,’ she garners quite the crowd as she strolls through airport terminals with her owner, whipping out tricks such as “playing a toy piano, performing twirls, and taking a post-performance bow.”
Yakel says feedback about Lilou has been great so far, and travelers stopping for a selfie with Lilou is not uncommon. “The reaction to any Wag Brigade member is terrific, but the uniqueness of a trained pig, especially one as adorable as LiLou, has been unprecedented. It’s like seeing an A-list celebrity walking through the terminal.”
Lilou graces SFO with her presence about once a month. She has racked up quite a following on her own Instagram account, where she announces her airport dates ahead of time. Stay up to date on Lilou’s airport appearances by following her Instagram account: lilousfpig.
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