The Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences has possibly the cutest professor of all time. He’s tall, dark and handsome, and he has four legs! Meet Lieutenant Commander Shetland. He’s an almost 2-year old, half Golden Retriever and half Labrador. Shetland is a decorated Navy sailor with a pretty impressive title. This tail-waggin’ sailor is a clinical instructor in the Department of Medical and Clinical Psychology at USUHS!
“He is here to teach, not just to lift people’s spirits and provide a little stress relief after exams,” USUHS Dean Arthur Kellermann told KHN.org.
The school shares a campus with Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Students are trained to become dentists, doctors, or other healthcare professional. It’s home to 1,500 students who all have the opportunity to interact with campus’s seven dogs. The dogs are all bred and trained by America’s VetDogs out of New York. This non-profit utilizes prisoners during the week and families over the weekends to help train the dogs. They’ve even gained support from the NHL with the Washington Capitals and New York Islanders pitching in to help!
A Special Assignment For a Very Special Boy
Shetland received the same training as his fellow four-legged comrades but his job is unique. Rather than acting as a service or therapy dog, Shetland is actually teaching students about how therapy dogs and service dogs are used to help people. Shetland is technically a “military facility dog.” He is trained both as a service dog and a therapy dog, that way he can be petted. Well played, Shetland. Well played.
Retired Colonel Lisa Moores is an associate dean at the university. She explained how Shetland helps to teach his brothers and sisters in uniform.
“Our students are going to work with therapy dogs in their careers, and they need to understand what [the dogs] can do and what they can’t do,” she said.
All Work And A Little Bit Of Play
This friendly, four-legged soldier may have a pretty intimidating title but don’t let that fool you. He’s a sweetheart who is as helpful as he is adorable! Plus he looks pretty great in a uniform if you ask me. Shetland has been trained to give hugs on command and pick up dropped objects. He even carries a basket of candy around to students to brighten their day!
Shetland recently had his commissioning ceremony where many guests of honor were in attendance. Notable guests were Marine Sergeant Dillon and Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Sully, who was President George H.W. Bush’s dog. Shetland’s friends and fellow service members were there to cheer him on as he shook hands- or, uh, paws- and saluted his command staff.
All of the dogs are commissioned into either the Navy, Air Force, Army or Marines, and their rank is no joke! The dogs can be promoted if they perform their jobs well and have good behavior. On the flip side, they can also be demoted for bad behavior- no shoe chewing or treat sneaking allowed!
As for sweet Shetland, his comrades say he’s quite the good boy and has a spotless disciplinary record.
You can follow Shetland on his personal Instagram.