The Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets has proudly released the official photo of its new canine ambassador, Growley II.

Service dogs, cherished symbols of selfless service, have a long tradition in the military and at senior military colleges. The 3-year-old yellow Labrador retriever will be on campus beginning this fall, said Maj. Gen. Randal Fullhart, commandant of cadets.

According to folklore, a Depression-era commandant had a dog named Growley. Food was somewhat scarce, so the cadets kept a portion of their breakfasts to help feed him. 

That relationship, according to the folklore, continued to the point where the cadets referred to breakfast as “Growley,” and first-year cadets who announced the time until the morning formation would instead call “minutes to Growley.”

The corps’ new ambassador will be designated Growley II (call sign “Tank”). Keeping with military tradition, a call sign is a unique identifier in communications. Tank is from Ciao Bella Retrievers of Troutville, Virginia, where he excelled throughout extensive service dog training.

Tank will not be accepting any visitors as he completes his training and transition with the corps. His cadet handlers’ charge is to create and maintain a stress-free and fun environment for him.

Tank’s formal introduction to the community is expected to happen in the coming weeks, at which time he will be available for media interviews, Fullhart said.

Lara Bartl of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine will be Tank’s veterinarian.

It is worth noting that a number of four-legged heroes serve alongside military men and women around the world. 

“I look forward to welcoming Tank to campus as yet another symbol that links us to our long and proud heritage of service,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. “The corps’ active engagement in our university community embodies the meaning of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), and Tank will be a fine ambassador. Perhaps we’ll even see him jumping to ‘Enter Sandman’!”

Supported by Vice President of Student Affairs Patty Perillo and Vice President for Administration Sherwood Wilson, the corps received permission, under Virginia Tech Policy 5000, for Tank to reside with his cadet handlers in Pearson Hall.

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