Therapy dog brings joy to Rapid City airport travelers

RAPID CITY, S.D. — If you’re traveling and go through Rapid City Regional Airport, you’ll probably see a furry friend for you to pet as you wait for your flight.

Four-year-old golden retriever Dillon can be seen making his way through the airport with his handlers, Kathie and Daniel Brusseau, garnering pets as part of the RAPaws for passengers program.

Dillion is a therapy dog where his job is literally to get pet. The training for Dillon and his handlers, which was through Alliance for Therapy Dogs, took around a year.

Kathie and Daniel have made it out a couple times to the airport and say that people have taken well to Dillon.

“So it’s about our fourth or fifth time out,” said Kathie.

“Yeah, we’ve been working with Chris Deitz out here and that’s how that all happened,” Said Daniel. “It took quite a while, you know, he had to jump a lot of hoops in order to get Dillon out here in us, so, but it’s working out and the people just love him.”

Chris Deitz, the Director of Operations and Maintenance with RAP has been working to get the program rolling for the past year.

Despite setbacks due to the pandemic, Deitz says the goal is being served of brightening people’s day.

“Having a dog if you’re dog person or just seeing a dog, you know brings a smile to a lot of people face and relieves the stress for them, so that’s really the the importance of it,” said Deitz. “It’s not limited to dogs. Some groups have cats as well, it’s just that whatever is going to help the person kind of look past the stress that’s going on at the time and we see that here with Dillon a lot.”

Deitz says the program hopes to attract other qualified handlers and dogs to bring joy in the airport.

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