If your week is off to a bad start, we're about to reset it for you. Just watch this adorable puppy channelling all of his canine energy into convincing his rhino sidekick it's time to play in the mud. If that doesn't make you feel a little happier, we're not sure what will.

The short clip was filmed in South Africa back in 2013 when local conservation group The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) was testing out a novel project to help save rhino calves orphaned by poaching. The pup in the video, known as Duma, was honing his skills as an "orphan detection dog" at the time.

With poaching escalating to unprecedented levels, the EWT had been working on a number of initiatives involving the use dogs in the fight against poachers, from sniffing out wildlife contraband to helping rangers in the field. But the team was also hoping to add one more special skill to that list. 

Young rhinos are often caught in the crossfire when poachers target adults for their horns, and when rhino mothers are killed, their vulnerable calves (those lucky enough to survive) are left to fend for themselves. Many starve or are attacked by predators. If dogs could be specially trained to track down lost orphans, wildlife officials would have a chance to find the youngsters in time so they could be cared for until adulthood. The EWT team was also hoping to use dogs to keep tabs on rhinos after they'd been released back into the wild.

Duma (whose name means "lightning" in a nod to the white streak on his tail) was assigned to the trial project from an early age so he could become accustomed to interacting with rhinos and to learn about their behaviour. (Lesson #1: They're not always up for a mud bath, no matter how nicely you ask.)

In the clip, Duma's sidekick is "Ntombi", who was born prematurely and was being nursed to health by the team at EWT. The duo quickly became inseparable, playing and even sleeping together, recalls the EWT's Karen Trendler, a rhino rescue and rehabilitation expert.

Unfortunately, due to the high demand for highly skilled dogs in the field, Duma had to be reassigned to help with more urgent anti-poaching work, putting the orphan-tracking project on hold – for now. The EWT hopes to train dogs like him in future.

If you'd like to help the EWT deploy more anti-poaching dogs like Duma, you can make a donation here.

Top header image: Ted, Flickr