GR Ford travelers dogged during delays

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CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Some 1,800 flights across the country were affected by the bizarre incident near Chicago early Friday.

Close to two dozen flights in and out of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport were among those flights.

Inside the terminal Friday, most passengers took the delays in stride, even as more questions marks went up on the board listing all the cancellations and delays.

“Actually, I should have been in Fayetteville, Arkansas about an hour ago,” said Bill Baareman, who was trying to get to Fayetteville by way of a flight to Atlanta.

The Chicago Control Center handles flight from Grand Rapids through Chicago all the way to Minneapolis.

Air travel can be stressful enough. Sitting in a terminal with no idea when you’ll leave adds to it.

So you eat, make a call, check your email.

Some stranded or delayed passengers made a new friend – one of the four legged variety.

Haley McLean and Toby are one of seven West Michigan Therapy Dog teams assigned to walk the airport terminal.

“It’s a program started by the airport and it just kind of helps when there’s delays and that kind of stuff,” McLean said.

The dogs are there to calm the frayed nerves of travelers, whether it’s the rush to the gate, the fear of flying or a sad goodbye.

“A mom that was sending a solider to Afghanistan in tears. And she wrapped her arms around the dog, it just made her day and calmed her down,” says Tara Hernandez, the airport’s Communications Director.

The Ford International Airport is one of only ten airports in the nation to use therapy dogs.

The official name of the therapy dog program – Gentle Fur in Action – or GFIA, not coincidentally, the same initials for the Gerald Ford International Airport.

West Michigan Therapy Dog members volunteer their time twice a week at the airport. They can also be special called in special cases.

On the web:

West Michigan Therapy Dogs

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