Therapy Dog Receives Honorary Doctorate Degree After Years Of Helping Students

by : Cameron Frew on : 18 May 2020 09:59
Moose the Therapy Dog Receives Honorary Doctorate Degree After Years Of Helping StudentsVirginia Tech

Meet Moose, the goodest boy at the top of Virginia Tech’s graduating class of 2020. 

The eight-year-old Labrador retriever has been awarded an honorary doctorate degree (and a few treats, we’re sure) for years of service as a therapy dog for the campus’s struggling students.


Moose has been working at the veterinary college’s Cook Counselling Centre since 2014, having assisted in more than 7,500 sessions in his tenure. While he’s been treated well during that time, he was officially recognised during the online commencement ceremony on Friday, May 15.

Moose Therapy DogVirginia Tech

The golden pooch is one of four dogs working as therapy animals and ambassadors for mental health awareness at Virginia Tech. As well as helping students with trauma, anxiety and other issues, he attends football games and other events to keep spirits up.

Trent Davis – Moose’s owner, licensed counselor and founder of the school’s animal therapy program – told CNN


Some humans haven’t had the best experience with other humans, or even other dogs. In both those cases, Moose provides a very safe and comforting force in the room. These students see Moose as someone who’s going to accept them. They don’t worry about him judging them.

Moose Therapy DogVirginia Tech

Moose, who was also awarded the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association’s Animal Hero Award back in 2019, has been enduring a battle of his own: namely, with prostate cancer.

In February this year, just one week after his birthday, he was diagnosed after blood was found in his urine. He’s since undergone radiation treatment and chemotherapy, and while he’s still receiving treatment, he’s returned to work as his usual chipper self.

Moose Therapy DogVirginia Tech

Moose has been applauded for breaking down the stigma around mental health care. ‘Veterinarians are unfortunately a very challenged population. They have high rates of suicide, and this profession can be quite disturbing. He has really helped the students and staff at Virginia Tech and has gotten a lot of recognition for that,’ Davis said.

He added: 

I’ll often meet people and they’ll be petting him, and all of a sudden they’re on the ground, talking in a baby voice. So when people ask: ‘How does this dog therapy thing work?’ I’m like kind of like: ‘I have never met you before and now you’re sitting one foot away from me petting the dog and talking to me about the meaning of life.’


Outside helping the students of Virginia Tech cope with everyday life, Moose loves swimming, playing tug of war and a good feast. Get this boy a juicy steak.

If you’re experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is there to support you. They’re open from 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year. Their national number is 0800 58 58 58 and they also have a webchat service if you’re not comfortable talking on the phone.

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BJTC-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and taken up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: Animals, Dogs, Mental Health, Pets, Virginia


CNN and 1 other
  1. CNN

    Meet Dr. Moose: Virginia Tech awards one of its therapy dogs an honorary doctorate degree

  2. Virginia Tech

    Therapy dog receives honorary diploma recognizing pawsitive contributions to the university