Sign In

Therapy Dog Gets Honorary Degree

May 18, 2020

This dog is more than just a good boy — he’s an honorary doctor of veterinary medicine.

Meet Moose, an 8-year-old therapy dog at Virginia Tech’s Cook Counseling Center in Blacksburg, Virginia. Since 2014, Moose has worked with thousands of students and aided more than 7,500 counseling sessions, according to owner Trent Davis, a licensed counselor and coordinator of animal-assisted therapy.

Davis said he was told by the school’s dean, that Moose would be an honorary 2020 graduate during the virtual commencement and would receive an official honorary doctorate in veterinary medicine.

“[Moose] is going to get a diploma and everything,” said Davis. “I guess, a little caveat is that he is a dog. He can’t actually apply for a job. Although, he would be a pretty good veterinarian.”.

It’s happy news for Moose in the wake of a few challenging months for the beloved Labrador retriever. In February, a week after his eighth birthday, Moose was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

“We noticed some blood on his urethra and I took him in,” said Davis, who noted that prostate cancer can be particularly aggressive in dogs because of the prostate’s position on the bladder. “He started treatment immediately.”

After months of treatment and with the generous help of a few human colleagues, Moose was able to return home last week, said Davis.

“He’s doing chemo and doing great. He’s a happy camper,” said Davis. Moose is one of four therapy dogs at the Cook Counseling Center, and has made a grand impact within the Virginia Tech community that he serves, said Davis. “A lot of people say to me, ‘Well, how does the therapy dog work?’ Well, [I bring Moose] in public and [people] are down on the ground, petting the dog and all of a sudden talking in a baby voice,” said Davis, whose dogs and human coordinators go through extensive therapy dog certifications. “[Dogs] provide a source of comfort and grounding. For a lot of humans, unfortunately, other humans haven’t always been the best to them in their lives, so dogs can be a little bit safer.”

“There are record numbers of [mental health concerns] on college campuses … When people keep saying ‘This is the best part of my day [when they’re with Moose],’ you start to believe that maybe there’s something to that,” added Davis.

According to Davis, Moose plans on celebrating his honorary degree by eating, sleeping and chasing a bally. Hopefully, if the weather is right, Moose plans on swimming, his favorite summer activity.

Register Your Dog

  • Most Recent News

    Students Get Therapy Dog

    When middle school students return to class on Jan. 11, they’ll find a new face at the door: Daisy. Daisy is a therapy dog and the personal pet of Rob Kreger, principal of the Rock L. Butler Middle School. The five-year-old golden retriever is not a school pet or mascot, but rather a working dog […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dogtor

    Last March, Caroline Benzel, a third-year medical student, began to notice the stress and discomfort her nurse friends were feeling from the pressures of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. “[Personal protective equipment] can be really rough on the skin,” Benzel, 31, tells PEOPLE. Benzel and her 3-year-old Rottweiler, Loki (who’s also a therapy dog) hatched a […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog Pups

    When Stanley the miniature fox terrier’s owner passed away, the little dog started a ‘paw-some’ new role – bringing puppy love to some of the Gold Coast’s oldest residents. After Carinity Cedarbrook Diversional Therapist Julianne Staff adopted Stanley, he began visiting the aged care community at Mudgeeraba as a therapy dog. Therapy dogs help to […]

    Read more

    Puppy Cams

    A nonprofit is providing an unusual form of therapy for those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic – puppy cams! “You spend five minutes with a puppy and try not to smile,” said registered nurse Robin Lingg Lagrone. Lingg Lagrone says watching little furballs wag their tails and prance on their paws helps […]

    Read more

    Pet Committee

    When Moore County’s school doors were abruptly closed earlier in 2020, two- and four-legged volunteers from the Moore County Citizens’ Pet Responsibility Committee (PRC) were in their 12th year of presenting a six-session Pet Responsibility Education Program for fourth-graders. The PRC quickly shifted gears and placed its program materials online as part of a home […]

    Read more

    The Right Rescue Dog

    If your New Year’s resolution is to add a canine family member, good for you. Somewhere out there is the perfect puppy or adult dog for your family. You have a lot of things to think about when you begin to look for that new family member, puppy or dog? Large or small? Purebred or […]

    Read more