KWCH’s beloved “weather dog,” the Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Millie, died Friday, the station announced.
She was 14.
Millie was the pet of the news station’s chief meteorologist Ross Janssen, who started bringing her to work with him shortly after adopting her in 2004.
She quickly achieved local celebrity status, making appearances on the nightly newscast — either sleeping in front of the anchor’s desk or hanging out elsewhere in the studio.
Viewers quickly became infatuated with “Millie the Weather Dog,” and she often traveled with Janssen when he would go storm-chasing, speak at schools or appear at the Kansas State Fair.
In an obituary posted to the KWCH website Friday, anchor Michael Schwanke said Millie was the most popular KWCH personality at the State Fair — “we knew where we fell in the pecking order, (and) Millie was always on top.”
Some viewers wrote on Facebook that they would watch KWCH specifically in hopes of a Millie spotting.
She also has a “fan page” on Facebook.
Station employees said Millie was “family to all of us,” adding that she was calming presence in the newsroom in the often-stressful news business.
“She’s had this amazing connection with our viewers who send her birthday cards and tell us how much seeing a glimpse of her on the news makes their day,” the station’s news director, Kim Wilhelm, wrote on Facebook. “When she’s not on TV, she would roam around the newsroom and make us smile even on the toughest of days.”
Janssen wrote in the KWCH story that Millie “definitely has changed my life forever.”
“I never really thought I wanted a house dog, but it’s truly like having a kid. Their unconditional love is something you can’t find anywhere else,” he wrote.
“On your worst days, they’re still excited to see you when you come home. You can’t put a price tag on that. There’s nothing else in this whole wide world that will love you like an animal will.”
“Some people say it’s a once in a lifetime thing. I can definitely say there won’t be a single day that goes by that I won’t think about Millie and all the memories that we made.”
Donations can be made in Millie’s honor to Wichita-based animal rescue LAPP — Lifetime Animal Placement & Protection, and people can send cards to KWCH-12 Eyewitness News, 2815 E. 37th Street North, Wichita, KS 67219.