PERRY — At the Perry Central School District, days are a little more “Sunny.”
To be clear, Sunny is a 5-year-old yellow Labrador retriever and a police K9 who accompanies Village of Perry Police Officer and School Resource Officer (SRO) Matt Masci every day to school.
Masci and Sunny have worked together at the school for the two years that Masci has been a police officer. As a school resource officer, Masci is assigned to the district.
While Masci may be the school resource officer, he’s the first to admit that Sunny is the star of the show.
As the pair patrols the school hallways, nearly every passerby stops to say “hi” and pet Sunny. The excitement over seeing a dog at school every day isn’t exclusive to the kids.
“It’s not just students who love him; teachers, administrators, basically everyone knows and loves him,” said Masci.
While Sunny is a certified therapy dog, he does more than just roam the halls during the day. He often attends counseling sessions and provides comfort to students who need some support.
For counseling sessions, Sunny has his own bright yellow bean bag chair to relax in as he helps the students through difficult situations.
“There’s a grocery list of benefits to having Sunny in the school,” said Masci.
In addition to working with Sunny, Masci provides many other services around the district, including diffusing disciplinary situations or providing the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) Program to students from kindergarten through 12th grade.
“For kindergarteners, I’m not talking about not doing drugs, but more about how to call 911 and what to do in an emergency,” said Masci.
While Sunny is a fan favorite, students know Masci by name. He also knows not only each student’s name, but at least one thing about each of them.
Sunny’s fame stretches beyond the school; he is also well known among the Perry community.
“He has his own social media. He runs it all by himself,” said Masci, joking.
In fact, Sunny does have an Instagram account, perryk9sunny, with about 350 followers and content is frequently posted. He also has his own trading card, coloring books and pages and bookmarks.
Sunny is the star of four published children’s books, including “Sunny Has a Bad Day” and “Sunny Needs a Bath.” The books were written and illustrated by Perry Junior/Senior High School students.
“The book idea came from the Counseling Department to teach kids about personal hygiene and a variety of topics in a fun way,” said Masci.
While it may seem like Sunny is living his best life, Masci said it’s hard work for Sunny to come to school every day.
“He has to behave for eight hours straight,” said Masci. “He’s a whole different dog at home.”
— Madison Ruffo