Sonny, born in October 2001, is a Blue Merle Smooth Collie. Many people do not realize there is both a rough and a smooth variety of the breed. Like the Rough, a Smooth Collie has a dense undercoat but the outer guard hairs are only one to two inches long, the longer being mainly in the ruff around the dog’s neck and on the back legs. Sonny lives in Montana with his 14-year-old mother, Belle, and four adopted cats: Mabel, Maude, Missy, and Mondo. His Boxer neighbor girls are Tess and Bonnie. Typical of Collies, he is sociable, eager to please, and highly intelligent. He has a deep affection for his mother and all his animal and human friends.
Sonny and his owner, Carla, became a R.E.A.D.® team in 2004 and began working with two other teams in February 2005. The dogs were a huge hit, and they won an award from a local television station (sponsored by First Interstate Bank) for $250, which was used to buy new books for the school library. The librarian researched and bought books about dogs. Two other local nonprofit organizations have donated money to help Sonny and Carla buy books for their book bag.
Sonny looks like he's smiling at the story.
Sonny and Carla have also been a registered Delta Society Pet Partners team since 2004. Additionally, since 2008 they have been a certified HOPE Animal Assisted Crisis Response Team and a Hospice Team for the local rural hospice. They volunteer at both hospitals in Billings, St. Vincent Healthcare and Billings Clinic, as well as visit the local hospital intermediate care facility. Other organizations they belong to include the Collie Club of America (CCA), the American Working Collie Association (AWCA), and the local Yellowstone Collie Club.
Sonny was featured in the Spring 2005 edition of Collie Connection, AWCA’s quarterly newsletter. The article was entitled “Reading With Sonny,” and Carla says it is a dream come true—combining three of her favorite things: Collies, children, and reading.
Children love it when they think
Sonny is reading along with them.
In April 2010 Sonny and Carla began a R.E.A.D. session with one second-grade and four first-grade students in small K-12 rural school. She says they were warmly welcomed by what seemed like the entire student body, and one older child, who knew Sonny from when she was in third grade in another school system, screamed his name and immediately ran over to hug him. Carla says that from his body language it looked like he remembered her, and it was very nice to see she remembered her time reading with him. These are the youngest children Sonny has worked with, and Carla is making a book about Sonny especially to use with them.
Sonny became a HOPE AACR (Animal Assisted Crisis Response) dog in 2008. Click here to see another photo of him and to read their tribute upon his passing.