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Calgary Transit, AARCS offer puppy cuddles to morning commuters

Laurence Gilzean had been having a rough week thus far.

So, he decided it was time for some puppy cuddles.  

Gilzean was among the dozens who showed up at Anderson LRT Station Wednesday morning between 7 and 9 a.m. to de-stress with a litter of Pyrenees pups. 

It was a partnership between the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS) and Calgary Transit to bring some puppy love to riders.

Gilzean said it’s something they should have all the time for Calgary Transit riders.  

“This is amazing,” Gilzean said.

“It’s just nice to let go of some stuff that’s happening.”

Nicole Janke, who does fundraising and resource development at AARCS, said they’d been going back and forth with Calgary Transit on ideas. Then, they came up with this one.

“They had the bus and we thought, why not give transit riders a great start to the day – and maybe ease a little bit of anxiety about the (Battle of Alberta) game tonight,” Janke said.

“It’s another way that people can know about AARCS, they can learn about what we do, and, of course, get their puppy cuddles in the morning.”

Janke said with more people going back to work and routines changing, they have seen a bump in surrenders.

“Definitely, we’re seeing some changes in their routines and ability to care for an animal due to financial circumstances or moving and that kind of thing,” Janke said.

“We’re all sort of in the same boat right now with that and we’re just hoping that everybody will soon find their forever homes.”

Improving customer experience

Stephen Tauro with Calgary Transit said it’s been a long two years of Covid-19. Riders are trickling back, and they expect through the summer ridership will continue to increase.

Calgary Transit was hit hard by the pandemic, with ridership dropping to around 15 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. Only recently has it climbed to the mid-50 per cent levels.

“We just thought, how can we better activate our spaces and bring smiles to customers on their journey?” Tauro said.

“And I mean, puppies. Who doesn’t love puppies?”

Tauro also took some time to cuddle puppies. Several, he said. (As did we. They’re PUPPIES!)

It was also a good way to help a local organization in raising awareness and finding homes for pups, Tauro said.

With more people going back to work, many on Calgary Transit, Janke said it was a dog-gone good way to ease the anxiety or stress.

“It’s the cuddling, it’s the warmth. It’s holding a small animal; all that animal wants is your love and attention, and you’re able to give that to them,” she said.

“That’s what makes it such a warm and fuzzy feeling.”

For more information on adoptions, you can visit the AARCS website.