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On December 5, San Francisco Airport (SFO) officials introduced LiLou, the newest member of the Wag Brigade, a group of friendly therapy dogs that roam the airport terminals to provide comfort to harried travelers. However, LiLou is not a canine, but a small breed of pig called Juliana. The two-year-old is the first pig to be certified with the SPCA, Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) Program, in the United States.
While just the sight of the adorable porker, who sports scarlet nail polish on her perfectly manicured nails, is enough to coax a smile from even the most anxious traveler, LiLou is more than just a pretty face. The talented animal can greet fans with her snout or wave, thank them with a shake of her tail, and even entertain them with live music on her toy piano. SFO officials say the pig even takes a bow after each performance!
As if that is not enough, LiLou can also push a ball with her snout and stand on her back hooves and twirl like a ballerina. She is also housebroken, an important skill for someone who has to roam airport terminals, two hours at a time.
San Francisco SPCA spokeswoman Krista Maloney, says the idea of LiLou becoming a therapy animal came from her owner, Tatyana Danilove. But of course, having a friendly demeanor and love for humans is not enough to qualify. Maloney says Lilou underwent the same training as the dogs and only after she passed with flying colors, was she included in this all-important Wag Brigade family that boasts 300 canine members.
Given that LiLou’s schedule with her handlers is still not set, there is no sure way of knowing when she will be at SFO. Airport spokesman Doug Yakel says they expect the pig at least once a month and adds, “We may end up making her visits a surprise.” When not helping calm nerves at the airport, Lilou can often be found bringing cheer to the sick at local hospitals and visiting the elderly at retirement homes.
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