First group of therapy dogs graduate during inaugural Barkalaureate

Radford University’s first graduates of 2023 were furry and four-legged. Dogs from main campus and RUC were recognized Monday, April 24, for their completion of the inaugural Tartan Tails animal therapy program, which supports the well-being of the university community. The first six participants graduated during the Barkalaureate held at the McConnell Library lawn.

Main campus participants included Heather Miano, executive director of administration, and her dog Bella; Heather Keith, Ph.D., executive director of faculty development, and her dog Huckleberry; Christine Small, Ph.D., interim chair of the Biology Department, and her dog Poco; and Angie Mitchell, the dean of students/associate vice president of student affairs, and her dog Jordan. 

At RUC the participants included Thomas Castor, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Public Health & Healthcare Leadership department, and his dog Riley; Leah Savelyev, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Occupational Therapy Assistant program, and her dog Louie. 

All dogs and their owners were recognized by Radford University First Lady Kay Danilowicz, accompanied by her own therapy dog, Bainne.

Each dog received certificates for completing the training program as well as celebratory doggie-safe cupcakes and a brand-new star-shaped squeaky toy. They will join the Tartan Tails program this fall, serving as therapy dogs that will come to main campus and RUC to help students relax by spending time with Highlanders that need some stress relief.

Apr 24, 2023