02/13/2015 10:01 EST | Updated 04/15/2015 05:59 EDT

Saskatoon airport bringing in therapy dogs to help nervous or stressed flyers

SASKATOON - Flying can be an uncomfortable experience, so for the first time at the Saskatoon Airport there's a friend for nervous flyers to rely on.

St. John's Ambulance is providing two dogs and handlers for travellers to interact with while they wait to board their plane.

Not every puppy gets to be a therapy dog, however.

Community Services coordinator Ashley Balysky says dogs are evaluated on how they behave with their handler through a series of tests, including how they handle loud noises, strange people, equipment like crutches or wheelchairs or even people pulling on their tails or ears.

Balysky says the therapy dogs have been useful in comforting those who are nervous for an upcoming situation.

She says some students at the University of Saskatchewan look to the therapy dogs for comfort before exams, and a few have even laid beside the dog for a lengthy time before writing their finals.

Right now, the dogs are in the airport twice a week. The times are based on when volunteers are available, but Balysky is hopeful the program could expand to seven days a week.

Similar programs are offered in some U.S. airports and in Edmonton.