Editors note: It’s no secret there are hard working dogs and cats. But while some are tending to traditional animal jobs, like herding cattle or mousing in barns, others are going to work with their owners and are performing “people” jobs at local stores and offices, like this week’s canine, Rio.

Name and occupation:

Rio is a 4-year-old Miniature Australian Shepherd who automatically started working at Bluebonnet Feed and Supply when her owner, Dana Kielar joined the business as store manager and graphic designer. It was a no-brainer kind of decision for Rio, who as a small pup went home with Kielar from a barrel race when Kielar was still in college in Kentucky. Kielar paid $60 for the opportunity to have Rio as her constant companion. Rio says she would have taken on the job for free, but no one asked her at the time. 

“She’s been with me through a lot,” Kielar says, indicating she thinks the $60 was well spent.  

Special talents:

Rio is an exceptional ballplayer, who is happy to demonstrate her athletic talents anytime, anywhere. True to her breed, she has a strong work ethic and is always ready to greet customers with a warm welcome. 

“Lots of people really connect with her,” Kielar says, adding Rio is also known as excellent with children and is happy to entertain kids while their parents take care of business. No matter how long it takes, Rio is dedicated to watching over her small charges.

But it’s not just customers of all ages who get special doggie TLC from Rio. Kielar says she also specializes in giving “dog therapy” to employees needing a little stress relief from the rigors of their jobs. However, she does draw the line when it comes to extending the paw of friendship to other canines.

“She likes being the only dog and she’s slow to make friends with any other dog who comes to her house or her store,” Kielar says.

Last, but not least, Rio is a seasoned expert travel companion.

“She’s all about riding, especially if the window’s down. She waits by the truck if she knows I’m going to go and if I stop and get out she will wait right by the truck for me to come back. The truck is her second home.”

What makes Rio perfect for her people job/s?

First of all she’s a fashion icon, best known for her signature bandana neckwear. Currently she rotates bandana colors, but Kielar says soon Rio will be modeling a new look — specially designed and manufactured blue, Bluebonnet logo bandanas. Secondly, she is not only a great business partner, but Kielar says, “She’s a good mascot,” and most importantly, “She’s good at assessing people’s character. If she’s happy, I’m happy. If she worries, then I know to worry.”