Radford’s therapy dog team, Tartan Tails, will expand its numbers and efforts

Founded last year, Tartan Tails is the Highlanders’ therapy dog team, led by the First Lady of Radford, Kay Danilowicz (left) with her 3-year-old boxer mix Bainne (forward), and former faculty member Katrina Hundley (right) and her dog, Apollo (rear), a Catahoula leopard dog mix, who is 4.

A quartet of special guests, Tartan Tails, got a hearty pre-game welcome as it helped kick off the Radford lacrosse team’s April 12 match against Furman University.

Founded last year, Tartan Tails is the Highlanders’ therapy dog team, led by the First Lady of Radford, Kay Danilowicz, and former faculty member Katrina Hundley, with their respective pets, Bainne (pronounced like "Banya"), a 3-year-old boxer mix, and Apollo, a Catahoula leopard dog mix, who is 4.

“Please turn your attention to our very special furry members of the Tartan Tails and their owners who will join us in the introduction of our starting line today,” Josie Pendleton, athletic marketing coordinator, announced at the top of the game. She thanked the group for its appearance as Danilowicz, Hundley, Bainne and Apollo took the field.

That April 12 match was dedicated to the life and legacy of Morgan Rogers, a former lacrosse player at Duke University whose death in 2019 inspired the creation of “Morgan’s Message,” a club that promotes mental well-being with education and support.

Similarly, Tartan Tails seeks to provide Radford’s students with an enhanced sense of inclusion and anxiety reduction through contact with the therapy dogs at “Yappy Hours,” held most Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at McConnell Library. Tartan Tails also has sessions at Radford University Carilion’s campus in Roanoke, Virginia.

“People are welcome to come in just to meet the dogs or pet them, to grab a hug or pick up some dander,” Kay Danilowicz said. “We also want to make people aware of some of the programs we have available at Radford, especially for student wellness and to support people who maybe are feeling a little down or miss their pets or just want to have some community.”

Tartan Tails’ appearance at the lacrosse match signals a larger ramp-up for the organization, which over the summer and into next semester will expand both its numbers and its efforts.

“We’re made up of faculty and staff whose pets are able to be in this environment with students on campus, and we are hoping to recruit for a summer group,” Danilowicz added.

A Tartan Tails website is in the works but is not yet online. Once it goes live, interested pet owners can apply online to be interviewed and evaluated by a canine trainer.

In order to participate in the fall, prospective pets and their owners will also have to complete a therapy dog training program, which involves one day per week training sessions across 12 to 14 weeks. An accelerated program is being offered for the summer that will require two days per week across six to seven weeks.

“We only have two dogs now, but this fall, we’re going to have eight in total, and they’ll be positioned in different places around the university. Hopefully, people can organize their schedules to go see a dog if they’d like to,” she said.  

On a related note, on Monday, April 24 at 3 p.m., Danilowicz and Bainne will hold the first “Barkalaureate,” a Tartan Tails graduation celebration on the McConnell lawn. 


Apr 21, 2023
Neil Harvey