Rolo was rescued along with several other puppies and three adult dogs from a terrible puppy farm in 2013. All the dogs were taken in by the RSPCA, and when little Rolo arrived in their care, staffers were worried the poor puppy might not make it. A few of his littermates passed away shortly after being rescued, and it looked like Rolo might meet the same fate.
“The litter came in around Christmas time,” Kathy Butler, a dog rehoming coordinator with the RSPCA, said in a press release. “They were unsold and had been living outside in sheds and barns, many in appalling condition. Little Rolo almost didn’t make it. One of the nurses at the vet’s fostered him to give him round-the-clock care and, thankfully, he pulled through.”
Despite how sick he was, tiny Rolo somehow managed to recover from his ordeal. Once he was well enough, he was put up for adoption, and taken in by a wonderful family with two kids who were over the moon to welcome him into their home.
“We collected him on January 2, 2014 — although he was much better he still weighed only 2.5 kg (5 lbs) and needed much more TLC,” Claire Dean, Rolo’s new mom, said in a press release. “If it hadn’t have been for the RSPCA taking these dogs in, I’m sure Rolo would have died.”
Despite being small and still a little sickly, Rolo began to thrive in his new home. As he grew and his personality began to develop, his family marveled at what a sweet, compassionate pup he was turning into. He loved absolutely everyone he came across and was always so gentle — and his family decided that, after everything Rolo had been through, maybe he wouldn’t mind giving back and helping others in need.
Dean had always thought that if her family ever adopted a dog, she’d want to look into making him a therapy dog, and once Rolo came into their lives, she knew he would be the perfect candidate. Rolo was trained as a Pets As Therapy (PAT) dog, and now he visits Southend University Hospital in England every week, helping bring a little comfort and joy to patients.
During his visits, Rolo always visits the oncology ward and the children’s ward, but he also tries to visit anyone who asks to see him. He tries to hang out with as many people as he can during his visits, and even brings joy to the people he passes in the hospital halls.
“It can take some time to get to where we are actually planning to go because of people wanting to stroke Rolo and talk to him as they see him along the corridors,” Dean said. “Many people are surprised to see a dog in the hospital. Rolo goes up to the patients and is just incredibly friendly and calm. Rolo also lifts the mood of visitors and most definitely the staff — and has become quite well-known now in the hospital. It is very special to hear if patients have been talking about Rolo and asking when he is coming in next.”
In addition to visiting the hospital, Rolo also participates in a reading program, visits residents at a care facility and occasionally acts as an ambassador for the RSPCA. He absolutely loves each and every volunteer activity he participates in, because he loves meeting and spending time with as many different people as possible. Rolo has come a long way from the sick little puppy he was when he was first found on the puppy farm, and everyone who knew him back then is overjoyed to see where he is now.
“I’m incredibly proud of Rolo and how far he’s come,” Butler said. “When we saw that little bundle of fluff being carried out of that horrendous place, so weak and vulnerable, I’d never have believed he could be doing something like this just a few years later. He’s a wonderful example of what rescue dogs can achieve when they’re in the right environment with a loving family — and when they’re given the opportunity to be themselves.”