Pet Spotlight: Nelson of the Canine Airport Therapy Squad

Pet Spotlight: Nelson of the Canine Airport Therapy Squad

Nelson with the Canine Airport Therapy Squad

Did you know that canines are the “Pawfessional” greeters at the Denver International Airport? Since 2015, the CATS Program (Canine Airport Therapy Squad) has been providing a furry face and warm welcome to stressed travelers from around the world. As one of the original Newfoundlands in the program, we recently caught up with Nelson’s owner Ron Horn to learn more about his amazing pooch and the impact Nelson has had on the concourse at one of the nation’s busiest airports. At 12 years old and 130 pounds of love, Nelson has been spreading cheer at Craig Hospital and the Denver airport for years — and his human has been witness to some amazing stories throughout that time. 

“I Couldn’t Have Made It Through the Wait Without Nelson”

One of the most touching tales was when Ron noticed an extremely sad traveler gazing at Nelson, and brought the dog over for a visit. The woman slid off her chair, wrapped her arms around the pooch and simply cried. A short time later, she admitted that she was trying desperately to make it home before her father passed away — and she didn’t think she could have made it through the wait without the love and support that she received from Nelson. 

The Anatomy Lesson That Saved the Day

There are few things cuter than watching a friendly canine and a smart young kiddo interact, and that’s exactly what helped save the day after one particularly frustrating delay at the airport. Nelson’s presence was requested due to a significant flight delay where tensions were rising within the passengers. Nelson immediately went to a little girl, who proceeded to hug him and then share with her growing audience all she knew about his anatomy: eyes, ears, nose, tail and feet. The cute toddler and the massive pooch kept everyone’s attention until it was time to board the plane.

If Nelson Could Speak

If Nelson could speak, what would he say about the great job he has?

“Having a chance to help people through some of the toughest times is what I live for! I know that with a simple lick or hug I can make their day all better — and that’s the best feeling in the world to me. I am so lucky to have a loving human who knows that I’m happiest when I am spreading joy to others.”

Would he ask for more attention or less?

“My favorite recent memory is when I had 19 active children gathered around me at once. The only thing I could think about was ‘I wonder if I could find more new friends to love?’. I really enjoy meeting new people and can’t wait to get back to the Denver airport to meet even more people.”

Learn more about Nelson on the Denver airports CATS website or explore their canine therapy program by viewing this recent interview. If your purr-fect companion is feeling a bit under the weather, be sure to visit the friendly and knowledgeable professionals at Sunset Veterinary Clinic in Edmond, Oklahoma. Our team can help with everything from new pet advice and wellness check-ups to pet ID microchipping to be sure your sweetie never gets too far away from your family. Contact us today at 405-844-2888 or visit us online at to learn more.

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