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Hospital Staff Comforted by Therapy Dog During Pandemic Granted Honorary "Dogtorate" Status

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    Loki, a 5-year-old Rottweiler from Maryland, is officially a "dogtor."

    Therapy and service dogs who went above and beyond during their training at the University of Maryland-Baltimore were awarded "dogtorates," And Loki, who first made headlines for donning scrubs and delivering "hero healing kits" to nurses during the pandemic, was among the canine honorees.

    Loki's mom, Dr. Caroline Benzel, placed her pup in therapy animal training so the two could work alongside each other. While Benzel attended medical school at the university, Loki was learning how to provide relief to hospital patients.

    "The week that I had gotten 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 that I was going to be trying to make her a therapy dog for the hospital," Benzel told KENS 5.

    "She was able to work in the trauma centers because she could handle all the machines," she added. "She could come into basically any part of the hospital that needed a therapy dog to come in."

    Benzel previously delivered thousands of "hero healing kits" to nurses during the pandemic with Loki's help. Now, she's beginning her residency at West Virginia University, where Loki will work as a therapy dog.

    "The idea of having a therapy dog come in, especially when you're in a really trying time in your life, truly makes such a difference for people," Benzel said.

    The University of Maryland was so impressed with what Loki and her mom accomplished, that they decided to provide more opportunities for therapy dogs.

    "After seeing the impact of Dogtor Loki and Dr. Benzel, the University of Maryland Medical Center expanded the therapy dog program," said Dr. Bruce Jarrell, the president of the University of Maryland-Baltimore,

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    Before her "dogtorate," Loki earned several awards, including the American Kennel Club's Paw of Courage Award and the Animal Medical Center of New York's 2020 Top Dog Honoree.

    "It's been such a positive experience during a tough time," Benzel told PEOPLE in 2021. She raised at least $70,000 for the kits and delivered more than 4,000 to nurses.

    She added: "Rottweilers are considered 'big and scary,' but Loki shows that anyone can be kind and make a difference."


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