Pet therapy

Dogs bring so much to family life. Just ask Workforce Operations officer Mitchel Ryan about his Bernese Mountain dog Willow who “goes bonkers” when he gets home at night.

“We first got Willow when she was eight weeks old because we wanted another friend for our other Bernese Mountain Dog, Chelsea, who was five years old at the time.

She was very cheeky and naughty, and she would regularly dig holes and hassle her big sister Chelsea.

As Willow grew bigger, she learnt to keep up with Chelsea’s stamina. She loved playing tug-o-war and would always steal Chelsea’s toys. Squeaker toys would last about five minutes before the squeaker was removed and our backyard turned into a snow field.

Birthdays were always fun, as they would receive an abundance of toys and treats, and they loved wearing their party hats!

She’s now three and half years old, weighs 46 kilogram; she’s a big fur ball of energy and goes bonkers when I get home from work every day.

Bath time is always crazy, as trying to wash and blow dry two massive fur babies who never sit still is quite challenging. Most of the time I end up getting drenched.

But in general they are the most placid, gentle giants you would come across.

We regularly take them down the South Coast and they also enjoy regular car trips to Bunnings and going to their favourite café.

Sadly, our beautiful Chelsea suffered a few health complications just after her ninth birthday, and we had to make the heartbreaking decision of saying goodbye to her. This made Willow and our family very upset, as she was an enormous part of our life. We miss her every day, however we are so blessed to have spent as much time with her as we could.

We are even more blessed that we have our Willow with us. Her fourth birthday is coming up.

Life without them would be very empty, so to have them in mine I consider myself the luckiest person in the world.”

Willow and Chelsea