WRNMMC, Bethesda, Md. –
Washington Capitals National Hockey League players Nic Dowd and Beck Malenstyn came to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) for the enlistment ceremony of K-9 Biscuit on Nov. 7, held in front of the medical center’s historic Tower.
A chocolate-colored Labrador Retriever, Biscuit is the former Washington Capitals’ team pup and service dog with America’s VetDogs. He was formally placed with Walter Reed’s Facility Dog Program upon his enlistment. The program includes a team of K-9s that provide comfort and help to patients and staff, as well boost spirits and morale around the medical center. The K-9s are paired with the various military services and wear specially designed vests tailored from the uniforms for former service members. They are also awarded honorary titles of the service they represent.
Biscuit was appointed as a corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps and tasked with “following the orders and directions from wounded warriors.” The enlistment oath he received charged him with “supporting and defending Marines and wounded warriors against all unhappy feelings, foreign and domestic, and bearing unconditional love and allegiance to the same.”
Navy Capt. (Dr.) Melissa Austin, WRNMMC director, said Biscuit has already captured the hearts of people as the Washington Capitals’s team pup and now is embarking on the next phase of his journey as a facility dog at the medical center.
“Biscuit’s impact with the Capitals has been profound,” said Austin. “He’s not only a mascot, but also a beacon of joy and resilience. Walter Reed’s facility dog program is a testament to the therapeutic impact of our furry friends. These animals do more than fetch and rollover…they heal.”
For the past two years as the Washington Capitals’s team pup, Biscuit participated in games, skated on the rink with his teammates, shared countless affectionate moments with staffers and fans, and championed various causes, including supporting veterans, first responders, and active-duty service members with disabilities, according to officials with the Washington Capitals. Retired Air Force Master Sgt. Deana Stone served as Biscuit’s handler “from playful puppy to teammate.”
In joining the Walter Reed family, Austin said Biscuit becomes a member of a team “that embodies compassion and provides near limitless comfort to patients and dedicated staff. He is joining a community that cherishes courage, healing, and the unique bond between humans and animals.”
Walter Reed facility dogs average 2,500 contacts and more than 200 working hours per month, collectively, according to Amy O’Connor, project manager/Quality Directorate and Facility Dog Program manager. She explained WRNMMC’s facility dogs make frequent visits to patients and staff in the inpatient and outpatient areas at the medical center. The also visit Inpatient Behavioral Health patients as well as provide support for the Brain Fitness Clinic. In addition, they 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.
Following the enlistment ceremony, the Capitals and Biscuits visited with patients, their families and staff in the MATC.