It takes a village to take care of Growley III, the mascot of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets. The cadets work together to take care of the happy-go-lucky labrador, and he receives veterinary care through the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.

Growley III, call sign Stryker, recently received a checkup and health certificate from Rebecca Persons, clinical instructor at the veterinary college’s Small Animal Community Practice.  

Stryker has an important job: the Corps of Cadets’ canine ambassador. Acting as a bridge from the Corps to the university and community as a whole, Stryker attends football games, club activities, and other on- and off-campus events.

"Being his handler is 100% the best job in the Corps of Cadets. Last year, I served as his primary handler, which meant that Stryker was my roommate," said Christopher Hall, the  Growley team captain. "Stryker has been my best friend. No offense to my other roommates, but he's the greatest roommate I've ever had!" 

Stryker visits the Veterinary Teaching Hospital two to three times a semester for routine care and checkups. He receives a health certificate and checkup before he goes home with his handler for school breaks — trips that usually involve interstate travel. 

"We've been extremely blessed with our relationship with the veterinary college, especially with Dr. Persons. Dr. Persons has looked after Stryker the past few years, and the vet school has been a great resource. Any time I've ever needed anything, I've been able to pick up the phone and call," said Hall. 

"I come from a military background — my dad was military, my husband is military — so I understand the importance of the military institution here on campus,” said Persons. "[Stryker] is great for morale for the students, and I think he plays an important role in highlighting what's wonderful about leadership in the Corps." 

Because Stryker is a working dog who is cared for by a group, it’s important that his health is monitored carefully. Regular checkups ensure that any problem can be caught early, and Stryker could go on a rest period if needed. 

"He's such a relaxed, calm, chill dog. That is super helpful for the students — they're under a lot of stress. As they're getting ready to go through finals or as they're getting commissions or figuring out what they're doing next, he is a constant,” said Persons.

White dog waiting to be examined.
Stryker during his visit to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Blacksburg, VA. Photo by Andrew Mann for Virginia Tech.
White dog being examined.
Stryker during his visit to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Blacksburg, VA. Photo by Andrew Mann for Virginia Tech.

Written by Sarah Boudreau M.F.A. '21, a writer with the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine


Andrew Mann
Director of Communications and Marketing