Pilot LiLou reported to her first duty at the SFO airport as part of the SF SPCA's #wagbrigade Got to cheer up the passengers on this rainy day! #lilou #sfpig #nobhillpig #aat #sfspca #animalassistedtherapy #whenpigsfly #pilot #airport #rainydays #therapy #smiles #planes #flightattendant #flightdelays #passengers #firstclass #jetsetter #abc7now #unitedairlines
We've talked about animal-based efforts to de-stress passengers at San Francisco International before, as since 2013 the airport has been the site of visits from trained therapy dogs who walk the terminals in search of travelers who need a little canine comfort. Those dogs have recently been joined by a different breed of helper animal...a different species, even! I'm talking about LiLou, SFO's therapy pig.
I am ashamed to say that I was unaware of LiLou until I read about her in USA Today, which makes me crazy because the airport sends all sorts of press releases about, like, airline safety and weather delays, but never bothered to alert me to what is clearly the most important thing to ever happen at SFO.
ANYWAY. LiLou is a small, spotted Juliana pig who'll be two years old on December 15, but even at her tender young age she's already helping folks at SFO as the first non-dog member of their "Wag Brigade," graduates of the SF SPCA’s Animal Assisted Therapy training program who visit the airport to help calm travelers.
LiLou's lack of much in the wagging department has not kept her from starting her duties at SFO nearly two months ago. “When we learned of LiLou being certified, and met her, we knew this had the potential to be a very popular addition at SFO," spokesperson Doug Yakel told USA Today, which reports that at present, as many as "three canine members of SFO’s Wag Brigade can be found on duty in the terminals every day of the week."
LiLou's visits will be less frequent, Yakel says, saying that “We expect her out here at least once a month...We may end up making her visits a surprise.”
USA Today reports that "according to the stats on LiLou’s Wag Brigade trading card, she also performs a variety of tricks, including greeting people with her snout or a wave, twirling and standing up on her back hooves, and playing a toy piano -- with a proper, post-performance bow." So that's how I learned that there are freakin' Wag Brigade trading cards that no one has ever sent me OMGWTFBBQ SF SPCA PR. (Just kidding about the "BBQ" part, LiLou.)
Trickery aside, LiLou, and her guardian, just want to help. “I can see that she is happy showing off her tricks and getting her praise,” said LiLou’s owner, Tatyana Danilova, says.
“It also brings positive emotions to me seeing that we can do something good for the community and bring more smiles in some unconventional way.”