Labrador retriever named Moose receives honorary degree from Virginia Tech

  • Meet Dr. Moose, an 8-year-old Labrador retriever who received an honorary doctorate from Virginia Tech.
  • He has worked as a therapy dog ​​at the school’s College of Veterinary Medicine for six years.
  • In February, Moose was diagnosed with prostate cancer and has since been resting in the house after undergoing treatment.
  • Insider spoke with Moose owner Trent Davis about how they were able to celebrate his virtual graduation.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Like many universities around the world, Virginia Tech was forced to have a virtual beginning.

But the school ceremony included a special graduate: an 8-year-old Labrador retriever named Moose.

Moose2 WithGradCap

Moose turned 8 in February.

Trent Davis

Moose, who has worked as a therapy dog ​​at the on-campus Cook Counseling Center for six years, received his honorary doctorate of veterinary medicine on Friday.

During his time as a therapy dog, Moose has helped thousands of students, his owner and licensed counselor Trent Davis told Insider.

“It was the right place at the right time because we wanted to honor his years of service,” Davis said. “To honor him knowing that his lifespan has been shortened by cancer. This isn’t one of those where we say, ‘Well, we’ll wait another year and graduate him then. ‘”

The cancer Davis is referring to is prostate cancer, which Moose was diagnosed with in February. The 8-year-old dog has been on treatment ever since. Although his tumor has shrunk, Moose is still continuing his chemotherapy and will be on medication for the rest of his life.

“We’re just trying to prolong his life and his quality of life, but right now he’s happy, playful and fully recovered from his treatments,” Davis said. “Enjoying life and not worrying about anything. I wish I was like him. He has a good prognosis but it’s one of those things that is fair.”

Moose3 FeaturingTrentDavis

Trent Davis adopted Moose when he was about to turn 2 years old.

Trent Davis

Moose is actually one of four full-time therapy dogs that Davis and her colleagues work with at the counseling center. Moose and his younger brother Derek live with Davis while the other two, Wagner and Carson, stay with other co-workers.

To celebrate Moose’s honorary degree, Davis and the dogs watched the debut when it went live

Davis said he also texted his friends and family to tune in.

“They got a lot of treats, that’s all they really care about,” Davis said. “Some friends brought me sweets and flowers to commemorate. We always appreciate those sweets!”


Moose was awarded the Honorary Degree in Veterinary Medicine.

Trent Davis

Before being adopted by Davis, Moose was actually trained as a guide dog and autistic assistance dog in New York City, but was released due to medical issues.

“Moose is a very cold dog. He’s so cold he’s never barked at work,” Davis said. “No one at work has ever heard him bark. He really isn’t turned on by anything but food or toys.”

“I’m going to take him to a football game and he doesn’t even flinch. He keeps sleeping,” added the owner. “He’s a very calm and mature dog, and he’s getting more so as he gets older.”

This isn’t the first time Moose has been recognized for his service

In 2019, he was named the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association’s 2019 Animal Hero. It is an award “given to an animal that has performed an act of heroic service or provides outstanding daily service to humans,” according to Virginia Tech’s website.

Moose pose9

Moose was named the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association’s 2019 Animal Hero.

Trent Davis

Davis hopes that aside from the honorary degree and awards, Moose’s legacy is about how much he was able to help students.

“First of all, I want to commend Virginia Tech for their support! The students loved it unconditionally and benefited immensely,” he said. “I want to inspire others to move into animal-assisted therapy and also reduce the stigma around mental health and mental illness.”

“I want Moose to help make the world a better place,” Davis continued. “These dogs were built to serve and this is another way to serve.”