Beloved Virginia Tech therapy dog Moose dies after spending months battling prostate cancer

New River Valley News

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Virginia Tech lost a beloved member of the Hokie community this week. Moose the therapy dog spent years serving and supporting students, but on Wednesday, he passed away after a long battle with cancer.

The 8-year-old Labrador Retriever was one of four therapy dogs at Virginia Tech’s Thomas E. Cook Counseling Center. Since coming to Virginia Tech in 2014, Moose helped with thousands of counseling sessions and hundreds of outreach events.

Moose worked alongside three other therapy dogs at the Virginia Tech Cook Counseling Center, including Derek and Wagner. (Photo: Courtesy Virginia Tech)
Moose worked alongside three other therapy dogs at the Virginia Tech Cook Counseling Center, including Derek and Wagner. (Photo: Courtesy Virginia Tech)

Dr. Trent Davis, the coordinator for Animal Assisted Therapy for the Cook Counseling Center, told WFXR News that Moose was diagnosed with prostate cancer — which is notoriously aggressive in dogs — back in February.

Following his diagnosis — which reportedly came a week after his birthday — Moose underwent radiation therapy and chemotherapy, managing to greatly surpass the odds for life expectancy, according to Dr. Davis.

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, school 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.

In addition, in the months following his diagnosis,  this canine ambassador for mental health awareness received an honorary doctorate in veterinary medicine from Virginia Tech and participated in a video with former Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer to promote pandemic safety methods.

However, Dr. Davis says Moose’s cancer progressed significantly about a month ago.

On Wednesday, Dec. 2, Moose died peacefully and comfortably in his home with his family, as well as his coworker and doggie brother, Derek, according to the Virginia Tech Therapy Dogs Instagram post on Thursday, Dec. 3.

You can read the full post below:

With gratitude and sadness, we let our Hokie friends know that our beloved Therapy Dog Moose, who won our hearts, lost his battle with prostate cancer on December 2nd. Moose was peaceful and comfortable at home in the arms of his loving family and his doggie brother, Derek.

Moose was born and raised with Guiding Eyes for the Blind in New York on February 13th, 2012. His puppy raiser, Nicole Srulowitz, took Moose with her to Ithaca College, where Moose first fell in love with campus life. Moose was re-careered after a minor medical issue prevented him from being placed as a guide dog.

Moose teamed up with Dr. Trent Davis in October 2013 and got right to work at the Cook Counseling Center. Moose was present in thousands of individual and group therapy sessions. He was a happy addition to thousands more outreaches and events across campus. He was always there to give students hugs, high fives, and let them know “It’s OK to ask for help”. Moose loved everyone! He listened carefully while being read to at the Blacksburg Public Library Paws-to-Read program. Moose’s image became iconic as students plastered “VT Therapy Dog” stickers on their water bottles, computers, bikes, and cars. He was often found at campus events including orientation, homecoming, graduation, Gobblerfest, and sporting events. Moose could not go anywhere without being recognized and met with smiles and pets from students, parents, staff, and alumni. He was the clear leader when the Cook Counseling Center added three more dogs to their Therapy Dog Program and taught Derek, Carson, and Wagner how to do the job right!

Moose received many accolades for his service, including being named the 2018 Virginia Veterinary Medical Association Animal Hero of the Year. He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in May 2020. He made friends with celebrities like Miss America Camille Schrier, Former Head Football Coach Frank Beamer, and the HokieBird. He was even a judge at the Blacksburg Halloween Costume Contest at the Lyric.

Moose loved being a Hokie and enjoyed life in the New River Valley. When he was not working, Moose enjoyed playing tug-o-war, swimming, hiking, and fishing. Mostly, he loved his dad, Trent, …. And, of course, like any good Lab, treats!

Moose will be fondly remembered for his calm, steady demeanor, and easy spirit. He had exuberant energy, love for everyone, and incredible compassion for the human condition. To describe in him human terms, he was patient, kind, caring, loyal, and stoic. His life impacted so many people and has a global reach.

Moose embodied the Virginia Tech motto: Ut Prosim. In his final act of service a few weeks ago, Moose ran through the tunnel at Lane Stadium and helped Coach Beamer record a PSA. A dog with a huge presence, he served humbly and quietly (He never once barked at work!).

Moose, we will miss you, our furry friend. A king among us, you leave the legacy of a giant. We will never truly know your reach and impact. Rest in peace, Dr. Moose. We will always celebrate your bright eyes, open heart, and courage to heal.

The Animal Assisted Therapy Team would love it if you would share your favorite memories of Moose in the comments below. We ask if you would like to honor Moose with a donation, they may be made in his name to Guiding Eyes for the Blind.

Virginia Tech Therapy Dogs (@vttherapydogs) Instagram

If you would like to make a donation in Moose’s name to Guiding Eyes for the Blind, follow this link.

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