DVIDS – News – Uniformed Services University’s Facility Dog’s Promotion a Howling Success

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Every dog ​​has its days.

And for a lucky Golden Retriever-Labrador mix named Shetland, the first full-time dog in medical school in the United States, it came on August 18th.

The always enthusiastic three and a half year old was recognized for his tireless hard work and his dedication to his many tasks at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) and was promoted to Navy Commander. The university originally hired the facility dog ​​as a lieutenant commander in the navy.

While he sat tightly in uniform in the University’s Sanford Auditorium, and occasionally lay down, speakers applauded Shetland for his work ethic and many contributions to the university.

Master of Ceremonies Col. (Dr.) Catherine Kimball-Eayrs, the commandant of the USU School of Medicine and one of Shetland’s demonstrators, said – for some – the promotion could come very quickly – provided he first became a commissioner officer just two years earlier.
“I’d like to point out that it was 14 years ago in dog years – so he’s actually a little behind the curve,” jokes Kimball-Eayrs.

Air Force Col. (Dr.) Pamela Williams, assistant dean for student affairs, said they never expected how successful the facility’s canine program would ultimately be.

“He has shown again and again what values ​​a well-trained animal can bring to an institution like ours,” says Williams.

Williams adds that it was important to think about all that Shetland has accomplished as the university facility dog, whether it be two or fourteen dog years.

“Shetland has partnered with the Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine to release a series of educational videos on how dogs can support people with anxiety and PTSD,” says Williams. “It served (also) as a model for the instructional video for the military working dog test.”

Williams said Shetland found many opportunities to remotely support students, such as with Shetland, while taking distance learning due to COVID-19. ”

Brigade Commander Col. Patrick Donahue stood with Shetland in front of the assembled group of students, staff and visitors as he read the oath of office for the newly promoted facility dog.

“… I, (Shetland) appointed Commander of the United States Navy, solemnly swear that I will support and comfort everyone … that I accept this obligation voluntarily and without promises of post-promotion treats. I will faithfully perform the duties of love, care, and comfort to all. So help me, God, ”Donahue said, taking Shetland’s oath.

Shetland then returned a (forepaw) salute to his commanding officer to the applause of the audience.


Shetland became the school’s facility dog ​​in 2019 to promote education about animal-assisted interventions and to provide comfort and support to USU students.

The deputy dean for the Well-Being program at USU and Shetland’s supervisor Dr. Kameha Bell says she helped start the dog program at the facility to educate and support the students.

“When we talk about Shetland and the role of the facility dog ​​program, the purpose is twofold. The first is to help educate people about animal-assisted interventions as we train future caregivers,” says Bell.

Bell says Shetland is an opportunity at university to not only talk about the difference between a service dog, therapy dog, and personal care animal – but also to experience students firsthand.

“Having a first-hand understanding and knowledge of animal welfare policies will only benefit the students who hit the road,” Glocke says.

“The second benefit is that we also have this great animal to support the welfare of our community.”

To continue its public relations work, Bell and Shetland visited the Australian Embassy on August 24, where Shetland’s role was explained to the staff and the Australian Ambassador to the United States.

Shetland was presented with an embassy coin and a patch from the Australian Forces – which once again proves that he is the university’s top dog.

Recording date: 14.09.2021
Release Date: 09/14/2021 9:12 AM
Story ID: 405156
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