May 21, 2024

It makes no difference to Sonny Boy whether he is a murderer or a reporter. The dog snorts and pecks your leg, wagging its tail happily. “He’s that way with everyone,” said owner Karina Brendlin.

The 50-year-old added: “Sunny only sees humans. That’s exciting.” Not a bad prerequisite for a flat-coated retriever to do three hours every other Monday. He visits women incarcerated at a correctional facility in Eichach, Upper Bavaria.

The whole thing is a project of the Munich Catholic Women’s Social Work (SkF). Karina Brendlin works there as a criminal support social worker. She has been taking Sonny Boy on missions regularly for her year here.

“His presence changes the atmosphere.”

“His presence changes the atmosphere,” she says. “Women are slowing down and becoming more open.” This cannot be directly observed. No media is allowed on Sunny’s prison tour. But anyone who sees Sunny will immediately believe that description. A 7-year-old male with waist-high, black, shaggy fur, he looks very friendly, and the expression in his brown eyes is very warm.

It was a coincidence that the dog not only goes for a walk, but also goes behind the bar. “Sometimes I took him to the office or to an appointment when no one was available to take care of him at home,” says Karina Brendlin.


“He was always an ice breaker.” At one point, a dog trainer encouraged her to train Sonny as a therapy dog. “After the exam, my boss and I came up with the idea of ​​taking Sonny to prison.” As Brendlin added, SkF contacted the prison and the Bavarian Ministry of Justice. Therefore, both facilities were open-minded (if you can say that in the context of detention).

Brendlin and Sonny currently meet with inmates primarily in the visiting room and sometimes take walks around the prison grounds. So what exactly do they do? “I once had a woman who was having problems with her boundaries build a path out of utility poles,” Brandlin reports. “She should walk on it and have Sunny walk next to her.” It worked.

“Then I replaced the hard fence with a soft band. Suddenly Sonny started going all over the place. He felt it right away that a woman was going to make him do this. More than me. There were many things I could do.”

Brendlin explained that she exhibited a pattern of behavior toward inmates. “That’s when she realized: Yes, I was allowing people to do things against my true feelings. For example, I would smoke a cigarette while other inmates were begging. I’ll give it away.”

Mindfulness towards yourself and the environment

Such behavior can cause anger and aggression. Therefore, it is good to work on developing mindfulness towards yourself and the environment. “We also try other courses of action. Working with perpetrators always helps with rehabilitation and protects victims. Anything that stops a crime is a win.”

You can’t ask them what the prisoners themselves say about Sonny Boy’s visit. However, one of them has written a statement. “Sunny and I do some simple exercises that help us come to terms with the sometimes deeply hidden emotions that people don’t trigger in us,” she wrote. . “His presence alone gives me peace of mind and security.”

“There’s a lack of intimacy in prison.”

Some people were there to cuddle up to Sunny, Karina Brendlin added. “There’s a lack of intimacy in prison.” How does she feel about other people, especially those with criminal records, getting close to her dogs? “Murder, theft, fraud, it’s all there. But the crime isn’t important to me. What’s important is the human being.” The prison also selects the women who are allowed into the program. “Dangerous people will not come.” There have been no incidents.

Brendlin and Sunny typically visit each woman 10 times. For some people, this can quickly change their daily routine. “One time a customer had to get Sunny to lie down without using her words,” Brendlin says.

“She did it not with her hands, but lying on the floor on Sunny’s blanket. I thought it was unusual and admired her creativity. So we decided that like before, she would also do it. “I came to the conclusion that I wanted to do it”, she would take a painting course, which she does now and is much more balanced. ”

sports for recreation

Meanwhile, Sunny plays sports to distract himself. “The sessions are tiring for him,” says the owner. “Then we always go out and he runs, runs, runs.”

Karina Brendlin is already preparing for Sunny’s time to just lie down. She has another flat-coated retriever at home, her 10-month-old Skipper. He would later follow in Sunny’s footsteps.

Establishment of social services for Catholic women e. V. Cologne dates back to the initiative of two women: Agnes Neuhaus from Dortmund and Marie Le Hanne Reichensperger from Cologne. She independently decided to provide aid to women and girls in need around 1899-1900.

Although social philanthropy was certainly in line with social mores and images of women at the end of the nineteenth century, it was not in the form that the women of the association practiced at the time.

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