Therapy Dog Moose Receives 'Honorary Doctorate' For Helping Those With Mental Illness

by Julie Scagell

Moose the therapy dog even got a real diploma and is now a Dog-ter

One Very Good Boy received an honorary doctorate in veterinary medicine after working as a therapy dog for years at Virginia Tech’s Cook Counseling Center.

Eight-year-old Labrador retriever Moose has been working as a therapy dog since 2014, most recently at a facility aimed at helping those who suffer from mental illness. Now, his years of service to students are being recognized by the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, which is operated by Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland at College Park. The college announced in a statement on May 15, 2020 that Moose was presented with his degree on Friday via a virtual ceremony, of course.

“Moose has served faithfully as a full-time therapy dog with Virginia Tech’s Cook Counseling Center for more than six years,” the college said on its Instagram page. “Born and raised at Guiding Eyes for the Blind in New York, Moose was adopted by Dr. Trent Davis, a counselor and coordinator of the university’s Animal-Assisted Therapy program. Named the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association’s 2019 animal hero for his service, Moose helps reduce the stigma often associated with mental illness and…[has] participated in more than 7500 individual and group counseling sessions and have completed countless hours of outreach.”

Virginia Tech

Davis, a licensed counselor, told ABC News that therapy dogs provide comfort and a sense of security during individual counseling sessions, helping those suffering. “[Dogs] provide a source of comfort and grounding,” he said. “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.”

Several months back, Moose was diagnosed with prostate cancer and has been undergoing treatment. Luckily, he’s responded well and has recently returned to work with fellow therapy dogs Derek, Carson, and Wagner. “He’s doing chemo and doing great. He’s a happy camper,” Davis added.

According to his online bio, Moose was raised at New York’s Guiding Eyes for the Blind, but a medical condition did not allow him to graduate to becoming a guide dog. But Moose was undeterred and was eventually adopted by Davis, only to become one of their best therapy dogs. “[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.”

Outside of the office, Moose loves swimming, playing tug-of-war, eating, spending time with his pals, and just generally being the Best Boy Ever.

“Thank you for being you, Moose.” Oh, and that’s Dr. Moose now.