Twenty-four years on the job is quite an accomplishment for anyone. No one knows that better than Sugar, a 27-year-old Spanish Barb horse that played a role in the education of almost every one of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech's 2,109 doctor of veterinary medicine graduates.

Now, after a job well done and just in time for the holiday season, Sugar has retired and found a new home.

Linda Correll, a former employee of the college, and her husband Gary, donated Sugar to the college in 1984. They had originally purchased Sugar to be a riding horse; however, as a result of her petite stature, they decided she might be better suited for helping veterinary students learn about equine anatomy and care.

Since then, she has been used in first-year musculoskeletal palpation labs and in second-year clinical technique labs where students learn proper methods for things like haltering and picking up the feet of a horse. She also made several public appearances during the college's annual open house.

"Sugar was always the first picked for labs and events since she has such a sweet and gentle spirit," said Marlice Vonck, the college's clinical veterinarian for the Teaching and Research Animal Care Support Service (TRACCS). Vonck helped to arrange Sugar's adoption.

Sugar remained in good health during her entire career with the college and was well monitored and cared for by Vonck and the animal care technicians of TRACSS. When it came time for her to enter retirement, they knew they had to find a good home for her as a way of saying thank you for all the hard work she had put in over the years.

That is where Shalyn Crawford, a member of the Class of 2010, and her family stepped in. The Crawfords adopted Sugar and took her home to their 10-acre farm in New Market, Va. This holiday season, with her working days behind her, Sugar will be enjoying green pastures, loving care, and the company of two other retirees, Medicine Hat and Oliver.

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