Fame can be a heavy burden, but the man behind Insta-pooch Romeo the Good Boy is as sunny as his spaniel’s coat.
Romeo is a Kingston cocker spaniel with a dedicated online following.
Long walks in the park, road trips to the beach and regular Bunnings visits are all essential parts of his busy social media presence.
Behind the scenes, it’s a whirlwind to ensure Romeo is always looking – and feeling – like the good boy he is.
Owner Trea Mongta doesn’t let the pressure get to him though.
He said he and his partner Steph knew Romeo had a special message to share with the world the moment they set eyes on him, and they feel blessed to be chosen by Romeo for that mission.
“He’s an agent of joy, an agent of fun, and I just want to spread the good word,” Trea said.
“It’s not a burden, it’s a blessing to share him with the world.”
It was a long journey for Trea Mongta from a childhood in Eden to the glamorous life of an Insta-dog dad.
He said it was a typical coastal upbringing – “you could probably CTRL-C the childhood of any kid between Nowra and Eden in there” – before he left the rockpools and bush tracks of the Far South Coast for boarding school in Bathurst.
“It was a very regimented lifestyle, very different to how I grew up,” he said.
“Once I acclimatised it was alright. I think the coastal ethos of taking each day as it comes makes it easy to adapt to different lifestyles. It stood me in good stead.”
Trea moved to Sydney for university, before making the move to Canberra with his partner, Steph, for work.
“I know the capital of NSW is Sydney, but the capital for the South Coast is Canberra,” he said.
“It’s just a couple of hours up the Clyde or up the Brown instead of four to six hours to Sydney, and it’s got all the benefits of the city without the cons.
“I do think the wombats and kangaroos are more suicidal this side of the mountains though, I don’t like driving at night anymore.”
Once Trea and Steph settled in Canberra, they decided it was time to add a new member to their family.
Trea had grown up surrounded by big dogs, with his grandparents having at least five on their Bodalla property at all times.
Steph grew up with Maltese terriers and Shih Tzus.
“We compromised on a cocker spaniel, and I reckon it was the best compromise of my life,” he said. “They’re such a good breed.”
While they didn’t plan on having a famous dog, Trea said Romeo’s star shone so brightly from the day they brought him home they knew he was destined for something special.
Initially named Teddy, short for Theodore, he was renamed Romeo after he attracted a train of followers on his first walk down Lonsdale Street.
“We realised he was a heartthrob, and Teddy wasn’t the right name,” he said.
“He always gets the best compliments from people walking past.”
Trea said Romeo was a true professional as an influencer but, like any star, he does require special treatment.
“He’s a very photogenic dog, whenever we take him for a walk he’s ready for the camera with a pose,” he said.
“The content creates itself.
“But he is a very entitled dog. Steph and I try to arrange our work so there’s usually someone home with him.
“If he catches you sitting there not doing anything he’ll push his head into your hand for a scratch.
“Romeo knows he’s a special and unique dog, and doesn’t care for other dogs.
“We babysat a lab for a week and Romeo would not have one bar of him, he stayed in his room the whole time – he’s a king, and won’t tolerate being around rabble.”
Fortunately Trea and Steph live in Kingston, which Trea says is the cocker spaniel capital of Canberra.
While Romeo enjoys living the high life, Trea says his ultimate goal is to retire on the coast to spend more time on his favourite hobby, swimming.
“We’re thinking Greenwell Point or Culburra, close to Steph’s family,” he said.
Until then, you can find him on Instagram under his handle romeo_the_goodboy, or out and about in Kingston. But please, no flash photography.