His name isn’t Biscuit anymore. It’s U.S. Marine Corps Corporal Biscuit. Or Cpl. Biscuit, for short.
Wednesday, the Capitals announced that their precious team pup was formally placed as a facility dog at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
Biscuit recently completed his training and is now the seventh Walter Reed Facility Dog dedicated to easing stress and enhancing the well-being and mental health for patients and staff.
On Tuesday, November 7, Cpl. Biscuit was honored during an enlistment ceremony at Walter Reed. It as there he got his new rank. The event was attended by his puppy raiser Deana Stone; Capitals players Nic Dowd and Beck Malenstyn; U.S. Navy Captain Melissa Austin; and Walter Reed patients and staff.
Afterward, Capitals players and Cpl. Biscuit spent time with patients bringing good cheer and getting good pets (Sgt. Biscuit only).
Cpl. Biscuit will now rub elbows with Sully H.W. Bush, a fellow facility dog who also served as a service dog to President George H.W. Bush.
Per a Capitals release, “facility dogs are initially bred and trained as service dogs for individuals with disabilities. However, some of these dogs undergo a “career change” and are trained in Animal Assisted Therapy skills, becoming military hospital facility dogs at Walter Reed. The Walter Reed Facility Dog program aims to deliver interactive care to patients and staff through creative Animal Assisted Interventions, with a mission to alleviate stress and enhance the overall well-being of both patients and staff.”
According to reader Matt, Cpl. Biscuit has had a presence in Walter Reed’s physical therapy department since late October.
Congratulations, Cpl. Biscuit. We are so very, very proud of you!
Here’s the full press release from the Capitals:
Biscuit Formally Placed as Facility Dog at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Following Training with NHL’s Washington Capitals
Biscuit Receives the Honorary Designation of Marine Corps Corporal in an Enlistment Ceremony, Becoming the 7th Walter Reed Facility Dog Dedicated to Easing Stress and Enhancing Well-Being for Patients and Staff
ARLINGTON, VA –- Capitals and America’s VetDogs’ service-dog-in-training Biscuit has completed training and has formally placed as a Facility Dog at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Biscuit was awarded the honorary title of U.S. Marine Corps Corporal during an enlistment ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 7, at Walter Reed.
During Biscuit’s enlistment ceremony, which was attended by Walter Reed patients and staff, Biscuit was presented by his America’s VetDogs puppy raiser and retired U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant Deana Stone. Capitals players Nic Dowd and Beck Malenstyn, along with Walter Reed National Military Medical Center director U.S. Navy Captain Melissa Austin, then presented Biscuit with his rank. Following the ceremony, Capitals players and Biscuit spent time with patients.
Biscuit has been welcomed as the 7th facility dog at Walter Reed, and now shares this role with Sully H.W. Bush, a fellow facility dog who also served as a service dog to President George H.W. Bush. Facility dogs are initially bred and trained as service dogs for individuals with disabilities. However, some of these dogs undergo a “career change” and are trained in Animal Assisted Therapy skills, becoming military hospital facility dogs at Walter Reed. The Walter Reed Facility Dog program aims to deliver interactive care to patients and staff through creative Animal Assisted Interventions, with a mission to alleviate stress and enhance the overall well-being of both patients and staff.
Walter Reed facility dogs average 2,500 contacts and more than 200 working hours per month, collectively. Through program tracking and monitoring, Walter Reed determined for every hour that a facility dog and their trained handler works, they have the opportunity to create a positive patient experience for an average of 12 patients and their family members.
As a facility dog, Biscuit will make frequent visits to patients and staff in the inpatient and outpatient areas at Walter Reed. He will also visit Inpatient Behavioral Health patients as well as provide support for the Brain Fitness Clinic. In addition, Biscuit will provide support for the Military Advanced Training Center (MATC) Occupational and Physical Therapy Clinics. Facility dogs are also part of special events, including military ceremonies, holiday events, Wounded Warrior adaptive sports events and more.
Biscuit joined the Capitals in September 2021 as a 9-week-old chocolate Labrador and underwent basic training and socialization with the Capitals. The Capitals hosted Biscuit in the front office, at community events, practices and select home games to assist in raising Biscuit to be a confident and calm future facility dog. Following his puppy raising, Biscuit returned back to the America’s VetDogs campus in Smithtown, NY and underwent his formal service dog training with a Certified Service Dog Instructor.
Biscuit is the second dog the Capitals and America’s VetDogs partnered to raise and train. In June of 2021, Capitals and America’s VetDogs service dog in training Captain completed training and was placed with retired U.S. Marine Corps Master Sgt. Mark Gwathmey.
Since 2003, America’s VetDogs (www.VetDogs.org) has trained and placed guide and service dogs to provide independence, enhanced mobility, and companionship to veterans with disabilities from all eras. In 2015, VetDogs opened its programs to first responders, including fire, police, and emergency medical personnel. America’s VetDogs is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization founded by the Guide Dog Foundation and serves clients from across the United States. VetDogs relies on contributions from generous individuals, corporations, service clubs, and foundations to fund its mission to help those who have served our country live with dignity and independence. It costs over $50,000 to breed, raise, train, and place one assistance dog, but America’s VetDogs provides its services completely free of charge to the individual. America’s VetDogs has been accredited by both the International Guide Dog Federation and Assistance Dogs International.
Photos courtesy of the @capitals
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