Labrador assistance dog transformed autistic owner’s life – ‘I owe her the world’

Rho Miller says that her assistance dog Lyra has transformed her life after the Labrador helped her to become more independent

“I’m grateful for her beyond words, and that I love her with all my heart.”

Rho Miller says that’s what she’d tell her beloved dog Lyra if she could explain how much the Labrador means to her.

Lyra is an assistance dog for Rho, from Cornwall, and has been an invaluable addition to the 20-year-old’s life by helping her with everyday tasks she used to “struggle immensely” with.

“I already tell her every day how much I love her, and I wish she could truly understand what that means,” Rho says.

“How much she has changed my life for the better.”

Rho was diagnosed as autistic back in 2019.

“I always suspected that something was different, even when I was younger,” she says.

“I always struggled at school, especially with bullying. I often used to pretend I was sick so I wouldn’t have to go to school, in fear of what might happen that day.”

Rho says that even as an adult, she was “terrified” of going places on her own because of the panic and sensory overload that would come with visiting busy places such as supermarkets and shops.

But since getting assistance dog Lyra, Rho’s life has been transformed. Rho has trained the gorgeous Labrador to help her with daily tasks, and having Lyra by her side has allowed her to do things that would have previously been unthinkable.

“Lyra has improved my well-being more than I could ever expect,” Rho says. “Because of her I am so much more independent, I have more confidence in myself along with a higher self-esteem, and I enjoy my life way more than I did before.

“She is my little companion and best friend – I often say she is my partner in crime!”

Lyra helps Rho with chores around the house, from assisting with laundry to keeping her owner company while she’s brushing her teeth or showering.

“This distracts me from my anxiety, stops me from getting stressed about the task that I’m trying to do, and reminds me that I’m not alone,” Rho says.

The Labrador can also do deep pressure therapy, which means putting her weight on Rho’s legs to keep her calm – this allows her owner to recover from sensory overload much more quickly. “

Without this, I would be frozen in place in a shutdown state for a long time, and I would be exhausted from this episode so much that I would not be able to do anything for the rest of the day,” Rho explains.

When the pair go out, Lyra can guide Rho safely around their environment by following directions, helping to find places such as a checkout or exit.

“Without Lyra guiding me, I would end up very lost,” says Rho. “Now I thoroughly enjoy going out, because Lyra keeps me safe and grounded.”

Although Lyra is “incredibly focused and dedicated” in her assistance dog role, when she’s off-duty the pup’s “big personality” is always making Rho laugh.

“As soon as you take her working harness off, and say the magic words ‘all done working’, she switches into the most energetic, playful, and humorous dog, and will run around the house grabbing her toys and showing them to you proudly.”

Rho shares her daily adventures with Lyra on her Instagram page @lifewithlyralab , and hopes that their heart-warming story will show others just how important assistance dogs can be in helping disabled people.

“Society teaches us that we are not enough; that we should stay at home, and that we need to act more ‘normal’ and ‘get over ourselves’ if we want to succeed in life,” Rho says.

“But by having an assistance dog, we can achieve so much more than society gives us credit for, while still being ourselves.”