Passengers at Belfast City Airport got a surprise dose of puppy love when nine dogs made an appearance as part of their medical assistance training.
Eight golden retrievers are in training to be Diabetes Alert Dogs, alongside one Spanish water dog, who is learning to become an Allergy Alert Dog.
As part of the dogs’ comprehensive training and socialization program, they were walked through every area of the airport to experience check-in, security and aircraft in the form of a FlyBe airplane.
Andrea Hayes, Flybe regional general manager, said, “The comfort and safety of our passengers is at the forefront of everything we do at Flybe. Approved assistance dogs are very welcome on our domestic flights.
“We have always facilitated guide dogs on board and as the skills of our four-footed friends have become more sophisticated, we are now seeing increasing numbers of other specialist assistance dogs as well. We were delighted to facilitate the medical alert dogs on board and look forward to seeing them taking off with us in the future.”
The visit was organized by charity Northern Ireland Assistance Dogs (NIAD) for the dogs aged between one and two years old. The puppies are in various stages of their medical assistance training.
Judith Byrne, from NIAD, commented, “We train and provide medical alert dogs to adults with medical conditions such as diabetes. Our Diabetes Alert Dogs are trained to warn their partner that a hypo or hyper glycaemic episode is imminent, thus allowing time for the person to get to a safe place and take medication or appropriate action.
“The whole aim of these specially trained dogs is to enable the person to lead a more independent life. Flying is an integral part of most people’s lives now and, as such, our dogs need to be fully confident when accompanying their partners.”