Ann Arbor — At the center of the University of Michigan campus on a busy afternoon, one thing can stop students in their tracks, getting them to forget their class schedule and responsibilities for a few minutes.
His name is Reggie, and though he is low to the ground in stature, UM’s unofficial “campus corgi” stands tall as a growing celebrity among students.
For more than two years, the red and white Pembroke Welsh corgi’s owner Michael Sola — a self-described townie who has lived outside Ann Arbor since 1977 — has been taking Reggie to the center of campus during peak foot-traffic hours to let students pet him, give him a treat and take their photo, which is shared on Reggie’s official Facebook page.
Sola, who adopted Reggie five years ago at the age of 2, said the dog always draws a crowd and is a welcomed distraction from a student’s busy day.
“You can bet that every one of those students just forgot their problems for a minute and smiled,” Sola said.
On a Wednesday afternoon, students can be found recognizing the trained service and therapy dog from a distance, yelling, “Oh my God, it’s Reggie,” while others get their phones out for a mandatory addition to their Snapchat stories. The majority of student approaching him know him by name.
Others ask Sola how a recent eye surgery went that kept Reggie out of commission for almost a month. Reggie hurt his eye, developing a corneal ulcer. He underwent a debridement procedure, which he has recovered from slowly, but surely.
“He’s fearless around people,” Sola said. “He’ll go up to anybody. The fact is, he doesn’t have any sisters or brothers at home, he just has me. When he’s down here, this is like his family.”
It’s easy to understand why Reggie is so popular. He moves slowly but approaches every student effortlessly. Sola gives students a treat to feed the dog, who has more than 2,900 friends on Facebook since the page was created back in March.
“He gets excited when he sees me say, ‘You wanna go see your friends?’” Sola said.
Efe Osagie, a freshman at the university, smiled with delight when he met Reggie for the first time after friending him on Facebook.
“People love dogs, they love corgis, and it’s also just kind of a cute campus thing,” she said. “You just get excited because he’s a campus celebrity. Among the giant campus of 43,000 students, there’s one Reggie that’s known by everyone.”
Stef Reamer, a freshman at the university, who also was meeting Reggie for the first time after learning about him on social media, said the corgi provides a temporary fix for students who might be missing their own dog back at home.
“Dogs are awesome and everyone misses their dog back at home,” Reamer said. “Plus, corgis are quite popular with people. I have two dogs at home and they’re very close, and it kind of makes me a little homesick. Getting to interact with a dog is always fun and it can brighten your day.”
After petting Reggie and grabbing a photo with him in between classes, student Nikoo Ghaffarloo said she could hardly contain her excitement as a dog lover.
“I am literally the second owner to my friends’ dogs, I swear I love them as much as they do,” she said. “They’re so low to the ground and chubby and their ears. … they’re just so cute.”