Virginia Tech therapy dog receives honorary doctorate for making ‘pawsitive’ contribution to campus community

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — After spending years serving and supporting members of the Virginia Tech community, a therapy dog received proof of the university’s appreciation in the form of an honorary doctorate at Friday’s virtual commencement.

(Photo: Courtesy Virginia Tech)

According to the university, Moose — an 8-year-old Labrador Retriever who is one of four therapy dogs at the university’s Cook Counseling Center — received an honorary doctorate in veterinary medicine on Friday, May 15 as part of the virtual graduation ceremony. Moose was also honored in 2019 with the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association’s Animal Hero Award.

Moose has helped in more than 7,500 counseling sessions and more than 500 outreach events since coming to Virginia Tech in 2014, but when he’s not working, officials say the therapy dog likes swimming, playing tug of war, and eating.

Virginia Tech says the last few months have been challenging for both Moose and the Hokies he helps. Just a week his birthday in February, officials say this canine ambassador for mental health awareness was diagnosed with prostate cancer and started a treatment regimen of radiation, chemotherapy, and other therapies. 

Providers at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine managed Moose’s treatment through a joint venture with Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland at College Park, officials say. In addition, a Virginia Tech veterinary student reportedly cared for and housed Moose earlier this year while he received radiation treatments at a private veterinary specialist in Richmond.

Trent Davis, the coordinator of animal-assisted therapy and a counselor at the center, extended his appreciation toward the Veterinary Teaching Hospital staff for Moose’s excellent care. Moose continues to receive chemotherapy and has been given a “pawsitive” prognosis, the university says. 

(Photo: Courtesy Virginia Tech)

“They’re wonderful, amazing people,” Davis said of the veterinary staff.

According to Virginia Tech’s news release on Friday, Moose has gone back to work with canine colleagues Derek — who is also owned and cared for by Davis — as well as Carson and Wagner, also owned by counseling center staff members.

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