Therapy dog recognized for pawsitive contributions to the university
May 15, 2020
Editor’s note: Moose was recognized as part of virtual commencement proceedings at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine by serving as ceremonial proxy in the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program’s hooding ceremony for the graduating class. This story has been updated from an earlier version to reflect these details.
A Virginia Tech staffer who has spent a career serving and supporting the university community will be recognized today in a special commencement ceremony.
He’s also sure to receive plenty of treats and a hearty “Good boy!”
Moose, an 8-year-old therapy dog at Virginia Tech’s Cook Counseling Center, will be lauded Friday evening as part of virtual commencement exercises at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, serving as the Class of 2020’s ceremonial proxy in the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program’s hooding ceremony. It’s the latest recognition for the pawsome member of Hokie Nation.
Like the Hokies he helps, Moose has had a challenging few months. Just a week after his birthday in February (his 64th, in human years), the Labrador Retriever was diagnosed with prostate cancer and began a treatment regimen of radiation, chemotherapy, and other therapies.
His treatment has been managed by providers at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, a joint venture of Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland at College Park. Moose was cared for and housed by a Virginia Tech veterinary student earlier this year while receiving radiation treatments at a private veterinary specialist in Richmond.
Moose, who came to Virginia Tech in 2014, is now one of four dogs at the counseling center who serve as working therapy animals and ambassadors for mental health awareness.
Trent Davis, the coordinator of animal-assisted therapy and a counselor at the center, credited Veterinary Teaching Hospital staff for providing Moose with excellent care. Moose continues to receive chemotherapy and has been given a pawsitive prognosis.
“They’re wonderful, amazing people,” Davis said of the veterinary staff.
Moose has returned to work with canine colleague Derek, who is also owned and cared for by Davis. Virginia Tech’s team of therapy dogs is rounded out by Carson and Wagner, whose humans are also staff members at the counseling center.
Moose has aided in more than 7,500 counseling sessions and over 500 outreach events in his six years at Virginia Tech. He was honored in 2019 with the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association’s Animal Hero Award. When not working, he enjoys swimming, playing tug of war, and perhaps most of all, eating.