Service Dog Awarded Honorary ‘Dogtorate’ by University of Maryland Baltimore
In a heartwarming turn of events, the University of Maryland Baltimore has paid tribute to therapy and service dogs’ significant contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic by bestowing them with honorary ‘dogrees.’
Meet Dr. Loki, the Rottweiler with a ‘Dogtorate’
Among the recipients, one stands out – Loki, a five-year-old Rottweiler who is now officially titled a ‘dogtor.’ Accompanied by her handler, Dr. Caroline Benzel, Loki received her honorary ‘dogtorate’ of medicine on Tuesday.
Dr. Benzel explained how Loki’s journey began, “The week that I had gotten her was the same week that I was accepted to medical school. So I started putting her through service dog level training, but I knew that I was going to be trying to make her a therapy dog for the hospital.”
During Benzel’s medical education at the University of Maryland, Loki mastered the skills to comfort hospital patients. “She was able to work in the trauma centers because she could handle all the machines,” Benzel said. “She could come into basically any part of the hospital that needed a therapy dog to come in.”
Loki’s Remarkable Service During the Pandemic
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020, Loki and Benzel went above and beyond to provide ‘hero healing kits’ to frontline healthcare workers. They also offered virtual therapy sessions for the university’s medical center staff, providing much-needed comfort and support.
In recognition of her extraordinary service during the pandemic, Loki was given an honorary ‘dogree.’
Dr. Bruce Jarrell highlighted the therapy dog program’s expansion following the impactful contribution made by Loki and Benzel. Service dogs Kylo Red and Kiera were also honored with ‘dogrees’ for assisting their handlers as they pursued their studies at the university’s School of Pharmacy and School of Law, respectively.
“The idea of having a therapy dog come in, especially when you’re in a really trying time in your life, truly makes such a difference for people. And that clearly has been shown by the way that the program itself has been expanding,” said Benzel.
Benzel will begin her residency at West Virginia University, where Loki will continue her commendable work as a therapy dog.