Fetch & Follow Stories | Claire & Rolo the Therapy Dog

We're very luck here at Fetch & Follow as we get the chance to meet some great people and amazing dogs and none more so than Claire and her Pets at Therapy dog, Rolo. In addition to visiting their local hospital each week, they also spend time at a residential care home and went to school for a year as a Read2Dogs visitor. 

With such an inspirational story we wanted to talk to Claire about Rolo and the amazing work he does, along with sharing tips on how other dogs can take the lead from Rolo and become therapy dogs.

Tell us about Rolo and how he came into your life

Rolo is an RSPCA rescue. He’s a cross breed – a Springer Spaniel cross Poodle or Sproodle or Springer/Poo. He was rescued from a puppy farm, one of thirty dogs – three litters and their mums. Rolo would certainly have died had it not been for the RSPCA as he had E.Coli food poisoning and it was touch and go whether or not he would survive. Sadly, two of his siblings had already died before the RSPCA arrived. All the dogs and pups went off for rehoming, apart from Rolo, who was kept at the vets for a week. After round the clock care, he was well enough to spend Christmas with one of the nurses and we collected him from my RSPCA contact on       January 2nd 2014.

What made you put Rolo forward to become a Therapy dog and what training was involved?
I have always loved dogs and been interested in how dogs help humans; when I was 12,  I did a project about Guide Dogs, which I think I still have somewhere.  Even before we had a dog (Rolo is the first dog of our own) I wanted to be a Pets as Therapy volunteer, as I know the joy and comfort dogs and many other animals can bring to humans.

Rolo went to puppy classes and then on to more general training – which I believe every dog should do – actually it’s just as much for the owners as their dogs (if not more)! When Rolo was around a year old, I applied to Pets as Therapy and got him assessed. No specific training was needed.

What is involved when Rolo visit patients
Each week we visit Southend Hospital. We start off in the Children’s Ward – Rolo is the first and only dog allowed in there, following the trial session he did two years ago. We then visit the Stroke Ward and then Oncology ward.. Rolo interacts with patients depending on their needs and how they are – he even helps with rehabilitation. Patients enjoy stroking him, some like to give him treats in return for them asking him to do something. Sometimes he sits on my lap and puts his paws on a pillow or blanket resting his head near to or on the patient, occasionally he lies on the bed with the patient. It’s important to note that it is not just patients that Rolo gives therapy to, but also staff and visitors. Rolo knows many of the staff, having worked at the hospital for three and a half years and as Southend is a University Teaching Hospital, there are always new people to meet. The staff really appreciate Rolo’s visits too.
Rolo also visits a care home and was a Read2Dogs visitor at a local Primary school for a year.

Rolo really loves to meet people – of all ages – whether they are new to him or people he has met lots of times.

What does Rolo like to do when he is not being a therapy dog?

Apart from meeting people, Rolo also loves to meet and get to know other dogs and play ‘chase’ with them, then perhaps share some places to have a good sniff. Rolo enjoys retrieving, especially tennis balls. He is rather a ball connoisseur – he will return a proper tennis ball many times, but if it is not a proper tennis ball or is damaged (injured), he will take it away and try to destroy it. He also loves to dig on the beach and the mud and swim, if it involves retrieving something. Rolo enjoys the variety in his life and knows how to behave, depending where he is – he’s a real professional – very calm when at work, but full of fun when out on a walk or in the garden. People often comment on how calm he is at the hospital, ever since he has been working there at 18 months old; conversely many people have commented ‘You’ve got a lively one!’ when on a free run.

If someone was interested in putting their dog forward to work as a therapy dog what advice would you give them?

I would suggest you contact ‘Pets as Therapy’ and ask them to email the assessment details and other requirements. There is no issue with regard to the size or type of dog, something I have found some people have a misconception about, but they mustn’t be too old, as it can be very tiring for them. They can start at around one year old. The main things are that your dog is not worried about noises, sudden or otherwise, can walk to heel with a normal collar and lead and does not jump up or ‘paw’ unless asked. They also need to be able to wait patiently, as sometimes you can be talking for some time with an individual or group of people. All skills (apart from noise sensitivity) I believe every dog should have, following basic training. Naturally, they must be relaxed and enjoy being around people and being touched. If there are any issues during the assessment, these can often be worked on and then your dog can be reassessed.

You can follow Rolo's adventures and see all of the good work he does on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook


MALIN+GOETZ Event | Wag for Swag 18th October

Malin and Goetz Fetch and Follow

Need to tame those winter fly-a-ways, soothe dry scalp, and moisturize those frizzy ends and that’s just your dogs fur? Don’t let the change of season ruin your or your dogs flowing mane this winter!

Join MALIN+GOETZ and FETCH & FOLLOW on Thursday 18th October for an evening of grooming and pampering at MALIN+GOETZ ‘s Seven Dials shop.
Enjoy craft drinks from our friends at Longflint drinks co. and discover Malin+Goetz haircare essentials along with complimentary dog grooming advice for your dog from our expert groomer friend Serena. You will also be able to shop the latest collection from FETCH & FOLLOW
Plus there will be a free gift with every purchase on the night
The event is FREE to attend and will be taking place
6.30-8.30pm Thursday 18th October
We look forward to seeing you all there 

Walk and Talk Series | Fetch and Follow Dog Walks | October

Having a dog opens a world of opportunity everyday with a new adventure every time you hook up your dog's collar to their lead. You never know who you're going to meet and the stories you will share. With this in mind we are excited to announce that our October Fetch & Follow Walk & Talk will take place in the beautiful Victoria Park in Hackney on Sunday 21st October.

This months walk will bring together dog owners who are after training and behavioural advice with our special expert Oli Juste.

Based in London, Oli provides positive, modern, ethical dog training with an emphasis on behaviour. Oli will be on hand to help you get the most out of your relationship with your dog and to feel confident in your abilities as a dog owner and a dog lover.

“I’m so looking forward to catching up with the Fetch & Follow team and their friends. The walk will be a great opportunity to meet some wonderful dogs and observe (without judgement) their behaviours together.I’m also looking forward to answering the questions you might have regarding all of your friends’ behaviours. 
Now all we need is a little sunshine on the day. 
With love." Oli

The walks are free to attend but spaces are limited so please contact us on for an application form. 
Fetch and Follow | Walk and Talk Series | October Training
Sunday 21st October 2018
11am Victoria Park London