Moose, beloved Virginia Tech therapy dog who received honorary degree, has died — rest in peace

Therapy dogs can make a huge difference for people in need of help. They can become a special part of people’s lives, reliably providing comfort and companionship.

Earlier this year we told you about one very special service dog: Moose, a therapy dog at Virginia Tech who was so beloved by the students and faculty that they gave him his own honorary degree.

Sadly, the university announced this week that Moose had passed away at the age of 8.

The golden retriever had been battling prostate cancer, and passed away on December 2, Virginia Tech announced on Instagram.

Moose had been working at Virginia Tech’s Cook Counseling Center since 2013. In his tenure he participated in over 7,000 counseling sessions and hundreds of outreach events.

He became a favorite of the university’s students, a comforting and non-judgemental friend to all.

“Moose loves you if you’re super smart, and he loves you if you got an F. He loves you if you’ve been in the hospital, and he loves you if you’re a sports star,” said Moose’s owner Trent Davis, counselor and coordinator of Virginia Tech’s Animal Assisted Therapy at Cook Counseling Center.

Virginia Tech

“Knowing that Moose wakes up every day and provides stress-relief and emotional support to his community makes him a true animal hero,” said said Talya George, associate director of VVMA.

Moose even helped break the all-too-frequent stigma against mental health, likely saving people’s lives. Davis says he was especially helpful in helping the veterinary students, who are at a higher risk for self-harm.

“The students here talk a lot about how Moose has broken down the stigma around mental health care on campus,” he told CNN. “He has really helped the students and staff at Virginia Tech and has gotten a lot of recognition for that.”

Virginia Tech

He became a beloved fixture of the university… and everyone had Moose’s back when he needed help himself.

In February, Moose was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He received radiation and chemotherapy treatments from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, and was cared for by a Virginia Tech veterinary student.

And as he battled his illness, the university did something extra kind to honor their favorite dog: they gave him an honorary degree!

Moose received his own custom diploma, complete with his own graduation cap, at a digital ceremony in May.

Virginia Tech

Moose continued to serve his campus as a therapy dog even as he battled cancer. He provided virtual conseling sessions throughout the COVID-19 lockdown.

He passed away peacefully in his home, surrounded by loved ones.

“Moose was peaceful and comfortable at home in the arms of his loving family and his doggie brother, Derek,” Virginia Tech wrote on Instagram.

Rest in peace, Moose. We know you will live on in the hearts of all the people you helped at Virginia Tech.

Let’s pay respects to this incredible dog, share his incredible story!