CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — You can’t beat the loyalty of man’s best friend when it comes to their owners. But certain dogs extend their dedication even further.    

There’s a job at Charlotte Douglas International Airport where a team of volunteers is being worked like dogs. But that’s a good thing. That’s because they are the precious pups best known as the CLT Canine Crew.

We caught up with a pug named Wilbur. His uniform says it all. “Pet me.”  

His demeanor, according to handler Ellen Appleton, “Very chill.” His tail wags and is extremely curly like a pig. 

His fur “feels like a rabbit, it’s so soft,” Appleton describes. “And his eyes, “Big, bulgey, full of happiness.” 

He stands only a foot tall, about 18 inches long from pug head to tail, weighing a lean 24 pounds. But don’t underestimate the little guy. He can run with the big dogs when it comes to calming passengers and evoking smiles.  

Wilbur is a 10-year-old therapy dog. Appleton rescued him at the age of 6. Since then he has found his calling at the airport.  

“He loves his job. He is perfect for this,” explains Appleton. 

Wilbur’s mission? 

“To bring smiles and joy to everyone he meets.”

Appleton is a former special-needs teacher. She was so impressed by Wilbur’s joyous spirit she knew he’d make a great therapy dog. He is always smiling, so very happy. His specialty is interacting with passengers, helping with decompression and destressing.   

It’s no secret air travel can be stressful. But that angst is no match for the calming effect of the CLT Canine Crew at Charlotte Douglas. Not your average mutts, these precious pouches are all registered professional, trained, and experienced therapy dogs.  

According to the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, animals have been recognized by medical science for the benefits they provide. Studies show that petting a dog helps reduce stress and anxiety. The Canine Crew welcomes passengers and creates an engaging airport experience.  

While therapy dogs like Wilbur are experts at alleviating the stress of others, it is inevitable they retain it within themselves. So at the end of a shift, it is imperative they release it in a healthy way. For Wilbur, it’s a favorite treat. 

“Frosty Paws Doggy Ice Cream.” 

Look for the therapy dogs in their blue “Pet Me” vests the next time you visit Charlotte Douglas.