'Destined' For Service: Airport Volunteer and Elite Therapy Dog Provide Stress Relief

10,000 pets. Hundreds of Hours. Immeasurable Patience. Elite therapy dog Nikita holds an impressive resume.

The Virginia native found her calling after owner and handler Ken Vierra signed her up for obedience training with Sit Means Sit. Outpacing her classmates, the instructors told Vierra she was destined for greater things.

Greater things – as it turns out – meant giving back to military service members and community organizations.

Nikita and Ken’s service with USO-Metro brings smiles, laughs and calmed nerves to countless individuals at the airport lounge. Vierra said nearly half of those that see her there stoop for a pet and at least 10 percent are reduced to tears by the “Nikita Special.”

The Keeshond’s special talent is climbing into crisscrossed laps and providing maximum comfort to people of all ages.

After nearly a year at the airport, the local celebrity is well-known at the Reagan National Airport (DCA) for her personable nature.

Through Caring Angels Therapy Dogs, Nikita has been able to assist several other not-for-profits such as the Red Cross at assisted living homes, libraries, schools, hospitals, and anywhere else she is called. The duo has also received local recognition from the Fairfax Fire Department for their continued service.

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