Moose Davis, beloved therapy dog, remembered for exemplary life of service
Beloved Virginia Tech therapy dog Moose Davis, age 8, died Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020.
Moose was born and raised at Guiding Eyes for the Blind in Yorktown Heights, New York. His love for campus life began during time he spent at Ithaca College with his puppy raiser.
After a minor medical issue prevented him from being placed as a guide dog, Moose found his destined career as a therapy dog. Teaming up in October 2013 with Trent Davis, counselor and coordinator of Virginia Tech’s Animal-Assisted Therapy at Cook Counseling Center, the Labrador retriever got right to work serving the university and surrounding communities.
“He was the dog of a lifetime for me. We had an amazing bond. It was the key to our relationship and our work,” said Davis. “Among his great lessons for all of us is his example of living in nonjudgment, infinite calmness, and unconditional love for everyone.”
During his seven years at Virginia Tech, Moose aided in more than 7,500 counseling sessions and more than 500 outreach events, becoming one of the university’s most beloved celebrities.
“I remember freshman year hearing about him and following his Instagram, desperate to find him around campus and finally getting to meet him. And when I did, he was the sweetest dog and I loved giving him all the pets I could before he went off to meet more students. I always looked forward to seeing him again,“ said Kayla Blatman (animal and poultry sciences ’20), a doctor of veterinary medicine student at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. “He truly was an incredible dog and made a huge impact on our entire VT campus.”
Because of his popularity and active presence on social media, Moose became an advocate for the variety of services and assistance offered by Cook Counseling Center.
“Moose was an incredibly effective ambassador for mental health and reducing the stigma of mental health. Because of his impact upon Virginia Tech, the counseling center now has three additional dogs to help carry on his work,” said Ellie Sturgis, director of Cook Counseling Center. “More importantly, Moose was an example for all of us: He loved life, always extended his paw in friendship, and built community and good will wherever he went. The Cook Counseling Center and the entire Hokie Nation will miss him, but his legacy and impact upon the university will go on.”
Moose’s service and accomplishments reached beyond the university into the surrounding community, including work at the monthly “Paws to Read” program at the public library in Blacksburg.
A champion for wellness in the veterinary profession, Moose was honored in 2019 with the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association’s Animal Hero Award and was recently recognized with a Proclamation of Appreciation from the veterinary college in honor of his support to veterinary students.
“Moose was responsible for much healing and joy amidst grief for many individuals in this college,” said M. Daniel Givens, dean of the veterinary college. “He will be greatly missed.”
“Moose will be fondly remembered for his calm, steady demeanor, and easy spirit. He had exuberant energy, love for everyone, and incredible compassion for the human condition,” said Trish Haak, veterinary social worker at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. “To describe him in human terms, he was patient, kind, caring, loyal, and stoic. His life impacted so many people and has a global reach.”
Just a week after his eighth birthday in February, Moose was diagnosed with prostate cancer and began a treatment regimen of radiation, chemotherapy, and other therapies. His treatment was managed by providers at the veterinary college.
“The team at the vet school has been wonderful. Having this comprehensive care facility on our campus is a blessing,” said Davis. “From oncology and internal medicine to radiology and community practice, the faculty, staff, and students went above and beyond for Moose and me. I can’t thank them enough. Even though he could not be cured, Moose lived a good quality of life and continued to serve our community up until the end.”
Moose embodied the Virginia Tech motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve). In one of his final acts of service, he ran through the tunnel at Lane Stadium and helped former Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer share an encouraging message to promote wellness among Hokie Nation.
When not working, he enjoyed swimming, playing tug of war, and, perhaps most of all, eating.
Memorial contributions can be made in Moose's name to the Virginia Tech Veterinary Teaching Hospital's Compassionate Care Fund and to Guiding Eyes for the Blind in New York.
Favorite memories of Moose can be shared on the @vttherapydogs Instagram account.
Those in the Virginia Tech community who need assistance or counseling support may contact:
- Cook Counseling Center at 540-231-6557.
- Dean of Students Office at 540-231-3787. Referral to a campus cleric may be made through this office.
- Employee Assistance Program
- Hokie Wellness at 540-231-2233 (students) or 540-231-8878 (employees)
- Office of Housing and Residence Life at 540-231-6205
- Women’s Center at Virginia Tech at 540-231-7806
- Veterinary Social Work at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital