December 3, 2020

Words cannot express how much Dr. Moose will be sorely missed.  He had exuberant energy, love for everyone, and incredible compassion for the human condition.  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 — at this moment, I am not even sure how far, but Trent’s decision to adopt Moose would change the lives of more people than he may have ever imagined.

I met Dr. Moose when he was 2 years old, and he didn't even know he was going to pursue his DVM. He was still deciding on a major, and it probably had something to do with water and fetching. Trent's office, positioned perfectly for every student to have the opportunity to walk by and give Moose a scratch and receive an oxytocin hit, enabled counselors to connect with Moose just the same. Moose and I were new staff members at Cook Counseling Center, and I immediately knew I wanted to become one of Moose’s colleagues. He liked the outdoors, and I needed to get up and stretch my legs, so I’d welcome the occasional opportunity to take him for a walk.

When I think of Moose’s life, the first memories that stand out to me are his presence in the counseling center. In staff meetings, when we’d sit in our usual circle, Moose would crack a joke through gestures or sounds at the most poignant moments. In his canine way, it was as if he were saying, “Okay, we’ve heard enough of that,” or “It’s time to play.” His timing was impeccable. He reminded us of what is important in any moment. He was the embodiment of presence, the very thing we, as mental health professionals, advocate as a tool to harness. He demonstrated “living in the moment,” “letting go,” and modeled healthy boundaries. At noon and at five o’clock, he knew it was time to honor his body. It was meal time. His internal alarm clock reminded anyone around him that self-care was the first priority. And he didn’t have to think about wagging his tail; he just did laps around the halls at the end of the workday. We’d watch from our doors or run the halls with him and smile. Walking with him from McComas to East Eggleston would take nearly 45 minutes. People would approach Moose like he was their closest confidant. They knew Moose. And it was not just students, but anyone who had ever played fetch or seen him in some other setting. Moose was instant friends with everyone.

Moose has left a legacy, gifts that we cannot measure and limitless love that will be felt when he is remembered. Trent and Moose’s partnership touched the lives of countless people, and the memories will be cherished forever. Their bond was strong, and it seemed to get even stronger every year. I recall the new adventure stories about Moose, and all the dog fun he would have at the river and later with Derek. It was cool to see new dimensions of Moose's personality with a newfound family member, and Derek's exuberance has been a gift back to Moose.

Trent’s compassion for Moose was unwavering and steadfast. If there ever was a dog who had the best life, it would be Dr. Moose. He gave freely, and his gifts multiplied from all of the compassion that was born from the partnership he received, a fantastic human-animal bond they will always share.

Trent, thank you for sharing Moose with everyone.

For me, the opportunity to work with a “therapy dog” was an exciting professional opportunity. The process of becoming a registered partner with Moose showed me just how the human-animal bond is at the heart of that working partnership. To partner with a dog to provide animal-assisted interventions, you really do need to be able to communicate with each other in the most distracting of circumstances. So, when Moose visited my family, I would take a few moments to practice for the Pet Partner evaluation. His energy was boundless, and my older Plott hound, Buddie, was so happy to have a playmate in the house again, which was the best part in having Moose visit. Moose, at age 3, and Buddie, at age 15, played chase, with tails wagging, around the couch. They were instant friends.  The most amazing thing I noticed about Moose was how he thrived from working. He had a routine, and he loved it.  The evaluation was no cakewalk, but the lessons learned were worth it, and his therapeutic presence was very healing for so many students and fulfilling to witness.  

Dear Moose,

Thank you so much for your love. May you rest in peace. And may you eat all the icing off the cake on the other side of the rainbow bridge. We will always celebrate your bright eyes, open heart, and courage to heal.

Yours truly,
Trish, the one whose back was turned when you found the blue icing