A statement on his Instagram page said Moose "lost his battle with prostate cancer on December 2nd"

By Gabrielle Chung
December 03, 2020 06:12 PM
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Moose the dog
| Credit: Virginia Tech

Moose, a therapy dog at Virginia Tech who received an honorary doctorate from the school earlier this year, has died at the age of 8.

"With gratitude and sadness, we let our Hokie friends know that our beloved Therapy Dog Moose, who won our hearts, lost his battle with prostate cancer on December 2nd," a statement shared on his official Instagram page reads. "Moose was peaceful and comfortable at home in the arms of his loving family and his doggie brother, Derek."

"Moose was present in thousands of individual and group therapy sessions. He was a happy addition to thousands more outreaches and events across campus. He was always there to give students hugs, high fives, and let them know 'It’s OK to ask for help,' the statement continues. "Moose loved everyone!"

Born on Feb. 13, 2012, Moose was raised by New York's Guiding Eyes for the Blind to be a guide dog.

However, due to a minor medical condition discovered during his formal training, the Labrador retriever was released from the program and adopted by Dr. Trent Davis, a licensed counselor, in 2013 to serve as a full-time therapy dog at Virginia Tech.

Moose the dog (center)
| Credit: Virginia Tech

He was one of the university's four therapy animals and ambassadors for mental health awareness at the university's Cook Counseling Center.

Over the years, Moose became somewhat of an icon on campus, often appearing at school events such as orientation, homecoming, graduation and Gobblerfest.

The pup was named Virginia Veterinary Medical Association's animal hero in 2019, according to his profile on Virginia Tech's website.

In February, Moose was diagnosed with prostate cancer was treated by veterinarians at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, a joint venture of Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland at College Park. He continued to work during his chemotherapy treatments, even holding virtual office hours for students amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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For his devoted service, Moose received an honorary doctorate in veterinary medicine from Virginia Tech's College of Veterinary Medicine in May.

"The students here talk a lot about how Moose has broken down the stigma around mental health care on campus," Davis told CNN earlier this year. "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 added that watching Moose do his job had been an incredibly rewarding experience.

"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," he said. "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."