On Oct. 26, Renee Kreger, staff associate director for the Prentiss M. Brown Honors Program, announced the passing of Sunny, the program’s therapy dog. According to Kreger, Sunny had cancer and dealt with a tumor that worsened her health. Sunny served as a therapy dog for over eight years.
Kreger adopted Sunny over ten years ago from an animal shelter.
“When I walked over to where she was, she looked at me and ran and brought her toy over to me and I thought, ‘I want this one,’” said Kreger. “I kind of feel like she picked me and I picked her at the same time.”
Kreger initially brought Sunny for two years prior to becoming a therapy dog.
“I started bringing her in August 2011,” said Kreger. “I brought her for almost two years before someone on campus said ‘hey, you can’t just bring your dog to work.’
After Kreger spoke to then-interim president of Albion College, Michael Frandsen, about getting Sunny trained to be a therapy dog, Sunny was trained as a therapy dog. Sunny has been such an important part of the Honors program that she is listed as a member of the staff on the Honors program staff page.
“Since she was so food motivated, it was easy to train her,” said Kreger. “It ended up being very cool because not only did I get to bring her here, but I also got to bring her to nursing homes and hospitals, which was very nice.”
Kreger brought Sunny to the Honors observatory almost every day and to many Honors events. According to Kreger, a significant number of students faithfully visited Sunny in between classes and during exams.
“She loved the students and they loved her,” said Kreger. “That’s why she was so fat, always sneaking around pizza crust or whatever. More students came to see her than to see me, and I never took offense to that.”
Kreger’s favorite memories with Sunny come from student interactions Sunny would have with other students that were not in the Honors program.
“I loved to see their smiles as they walked away,” said Kreger. “I also heard a lot of ‘oh, I miss my dog.’ And I always told everybody, whether they were in the program or not, they were always welcome to come and pet the dog.”
Many students are saddened by the loss of Sunny. Lauren Bergeron, Riverview senior, visited Sunny between three and four times a week, especially during bad days. Bergeron was surprised to hear of Sunny’s passing.
“I think a lot of students felt the same way, no one got to say ‘good-bye’,” said Bergeron. “Sunny has become an icon for Honors, and like, Sunny is that furry companion that everybody needs.”
According to Kreger, Sunny was meant to be a therapy dog.
“I don’t how she knew but she’d always be there when somebody needed something,” said Kreger. “If she saw you sitting on the couch studying, she’d think twice before sitting next to you. And if she wanted your attention, she’d put her head on your computer.”
According to Bergeron, Sunny was very calm and had an interesting personality.
“When you were having a bad day and you didn’t want to talk to people and just wanted to pet a dog, Sunny was there and always willing,” said Bergeron. “Not having her in the observatory, it’s really quiet.”
Students and faculty miss Sunny and the interactions they had with her during her time as a therapy dog at the Honors program.
“She was part of my day, night, everything,” said Kreger. “I miss her.”