The University of Maryland Baltimore shed light on the importance of service and therapy dogs in a special ceremony Tuesday.

Among the honorees was one particular canine who has left a significant and lasting impact on the program.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore conferred “dogrees” to therapy and service dogs who have gone above and beyond their call of duty. This included one special K9, a 5-year-old Rottweiler named Loki, who is now officially a “Dogtor.”

Loki, trained as a service therapy dog, received her honorary “dogtorate” of medicine from the University of Maryland, Baltimore on Tuesday. Her handler, Dr. Caroline Benzel, was at her side throughout the ceremony.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

“The week that I got 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 I was going to try to make her a therapy dog for the hospital,” Benzel said.

While Benzel attended the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Loki learned to comfort patients in the hospital. The Rottweiler’s calm demeanor allowed her to work in trauma centers and handle all types of machinery, making her a versatile therapy dog within the hospital.

“She was able to work in the trauma centers because she could handle all the machines, she could come into basically any part of the hospital that needed a therapy dog to come in, and we would make sure that we’re able to accommodate for everyone and everything,” Benzel added.

When COVID-19 struck in 2020, Benzel and Loki stepped up their efforts. They delivered “Hero Healing Kits” to frontline health care workers, providing much-needed supplies, such as lotion, Vaseline, lip balm, instant coffee and tea, with Loki always by Benzel’s side.

Dr. Bruce Jarrell, president of the University of Maryland Baltimore, praised the duo for their work, noting that their impact was so significant it led the University of Maryland Medical Center to expand its therapy dog program.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Along with her “dogree”, Loki was honored for her extraordinary service during the pandemic.

The university also awarded “dogrees” to service dogs Kylo Red and Kiera, who assisted their handlers as they pursued degrees at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and Maryland Carey Law.

“I think just the idea of having a therapy dog come in, especially when you’re at a really trying time in your life, truly makes such a difference for people,” Benzel said.

Benzel is set to begin her residency at West Virginia University, where Loki will continue her work as a therapy dog. Benzel also expressed her plans to write a children’s book about “Dogtor Loki.”

More From The Banner