We have a special post today, friends. Meet Loomis! If this is the first time you’re seeing him, you are looking at the one and only, the original MASTdog!!

Loomis is starting his retirement, and while we are sad to know he will be leaving the team, we are very happy that he has paved the way for our team to do the work we do. We know firsthand that not only will his dog friends and your MSA pals miss him, but his patients who love him will miss him as well. He is awesome.

Our MSA dog program started with visits with Loomis. It has developed into the Masonic Association of Service and Therapy dogs, the amazing 501c3 organization it is today. Loomis is the role model for the spirit that is within MAST.

Over the years, Loomis has encouraged countless people to feel hopeful. He has also inspired many other dogs to be caring, loving snugglers and listeners to the people who need them the most.

Hardy, his owner and handler, usually introduces Loomis by asking “Would you like to talk to a dog?” And you can bet the patients say YES.

Specializing in making veterans feel positive and encouraged, Loomis has visited the VA almost every Thursday since the inception of using dogs for therapy there.

We asked him to give us a little history:

“My name is Loomis Fargo Evans, I am a long-haired dachshund and I am 13 years old. I started going to the VA with my dad when I was four years old. It was our special day together and we would go to the veterans’ hospital and I visited with staff and patients. I was the only dog in the Masonic Service program at the North Chicago VA hospital for many years.

Everyone was very happy to see me, and I learned how to behave when visiting. I knew when dad put on his ID tag that it was Thursday and I had a job to do. I was to be a well-behaved visitor and I enjoyed every Thursday.

I am now 13, and still enjoy my Thursday visiting job, but the walk is getting longer but I still enjoy my cart ride to visit the residents. Times change, and I have been doing this job for 9 years.

There is now a younger, better trained (they have to go to school, so they can learn to visit) bunch of therapy dogs at the North Chicago VA (which is now called Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center).

So, with a new name and lots of younger dogs in the new MAST program, I think I can safely retire knowing my position will be filled by many following in my footsteps…”

-Loomis Fargo Evans, the first volunteer dog in the MSA, North Chicago, Il.

Loomis, MAST loves you, and you will be missed. Have a great time in your retirement! Relax, have some treats, and know that we will continue to follow your example. Thank you for motivating us to do our absolute best!

Cheers to you, Loomis!

–Your friends at MAST

To learn more about MAST, to volunteer, and to sign up for our therapy dog certification program, visit our website.