BLACKSBURG (WSLS 10) – A 3-year-old yellow Labrador retriever is now part of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets. He trained and served as a therapy dog for several years.
“The popular story is that back during the 30s in the Great Depression Era when food and meat was scarce, the Commandant at the time had a dog named Growley. Due to the fact that meat and food was scarce during the morning cadets would give up their share at breakfast to help feed the dog,” said Zackary Sever, a Virginia Tech Senior and Growley Captain.
Now decades later Growley II is walking the halls of Virginia Tech’s campus and Lane Stadium with the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets.
“He is actually considered the highest ranking Cadet in the Corps so freshman address him as Cadet Brigadier General Growley the Second,” said Sever.
“He’s part of the family now. Freshman Love going up to him, it’s kind of like a relaxation point for them,” said Quinton Cookis, a Virginia Tech Junior who is also part of Growley’s handler team.
Growley is the first official ambassador for the Corps of Cadets. Supported by Vice President of Student Affairs Patty Perillo and Vice President for Administration Sherwood Wilson, the corps received permission, under Virginia Tech Policy 5000, for Growley II to reside with his cadet handlers — a team of two seniors, two juniors, and two sophomores — in Pearson Hall.
“He’s supposed to be a living, breathing symbol of not only the corps dedication and loyalty to the university but also service,” said Sever. “He really just brightens up people’s day around campus. You can see the impact he makes on cadets and just the general student body here at Tech.”
Sever and Cookis hope this tradition continues for decades and one day they will be able to meet the next Growley.
“I’m a history major so I know that’s what we’re doing right now. We’re making history,” said Cookis.
Inspectors with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have looked over Growley II’s accommodations and care and training plans, and as part of his USDA certification, those inspectors will make unannounced visits to campus to ensure the plans are being followed.
You can see Growley at football games, on campus and special appearances.