My Best Mate, Rhio.


For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted a dog. My family and I had previously had a dog, a Bichon Frise named Bobby, but he was considerably older than my brother and I, and most of my memories of him are in his twilight years. For the best part of 13 years after Bobby left us, I nagged my parents endlessly for a puppy of my own.

“Who will take it to the park?”
“Who will feed it?”
“Who will pick up the poop?”

I will.
I promise.”

No matter how much I promised that I’d put my hand inside a disposable green bag and pick up yesterday’s dinner, they didn’t give in. They were right. I was not ready for a dog.

It’s 2020, and I’m 24 years old now. My best mate, Rhio, a beautiful black Labrador, is about to turn 3 years old (as I type this he is snoring away at my feet, probably dreaming of chasing frisbees and swimming in the park pond), and has been in our life since he was just 8 weeks.

Life certainly has its ups and downs as they say. I’m only 24 years old, but I can honestly say that I have experienced the highs and lows of life. Unfortunately, my father Bentley, has had some serious health issues since 2015, and continues to battle cancer to this day. In 2018, my family decided it was finally time to introduce a puppy into our family. I was older, more responsible, and given our recent family health issues, frankly, we could all do with some much needed furry cuddles. I once again had to promise that I’d tick all the boxes for my parents. Make sure I’d be doing all the things required of me:

Train the dog. Give the dog food. Give the dog water. Pick up the poop. Take the dog for walks.

However, what I didn’t anticipate was what this dog would do for me personally, and for my family more generally.

As mentioned earlier, life at home had become stressful. We were living under the dark cloud of uncertainty. Fear. Anxiety. Introducing Rhio, this innocent, happy-go-lucky little man into our family, helped ease the stresses. It helped us relax, and enjoy the little moments. As a family, it brought us closer together. Before Rhio, my brother and I would go to our rooms and indulge in escapism from our family’s health issues. All of a sudden, we were all sitting downstairs – as a family, enjoying Rhio and each other's company.

As our Dad continues to battle his health issues, Rhio continues to be my source of comfort. Whether it’s watching him chase his ball for the 10,000th time in the local park, or simply relaxing outside in any sunlight he can find, Rhio has taught me a valuable life lesson.

Enjoy the little things.

Life can be stressful. Life can be harsh. But life can also be beautiful – and I for one, don’t want to miss the beautiful small moments.

So for that Rhio, I thank you.