Two RSPCA rescue dogs with very special jobs

Back in July 2021, concerned visitors to a car boot sale in the West Midlands spotted a sick-looking Shih Tzu puppy being offered for sale, and called us.

Our inspector picked up the pup and brought her into the RSPCA’s Hillfield Animal Home. Her brother, an equally poorly puppy, was found at a house nearby and the pair were reunited. Staff named them Chilli and Bean.

A special home

Though it took the pups a while to trust people again. Still, the staff and volunteers at Hillfield were gentle and patient, and their confidence improved.

Once the dogs were strong and healthy, dog fosterer Julia took them home and after just two weeks she knew she wanted them to stay for good! “I knew the best thing for them was to stay with me”, says Julia.

Chilli and Bean adjusted to a new routine – chasing balls in the garden with Julia’s other dogs everyday, playing in the field opposite our new home and snoozing on the sofa – and Julia fell in love with the personable pups. “Bean is easy going with a lovely playful side and Chilli is so laid back,” she tells us. 

All the residents at Charlotte James Care Home look forward to Chilli’s visits.

Perfect for PAT

Julia was so impressed by Chilli and Bean’s chilled-out nature that she decided they’d make great therapy dogs.

She signed them up with Pets As Therapy or PAT, a charity that helps trained pets to visit schools, hospitals, prisons and care homes. These visits really cheer up people who are lonely, sick or struggling.

Chilli working to cheer up residents at a local care home.

Helping others in difficult times

The dogs passed their PAT tests with flying colours and today, Julia takes the chilled-out Chilli to visit the people at Charlotte James Care Home in Burton-on-Trent and St Giles Hospice in Lichfield. The livelier Bean plays with pupils at Thomas Russell Infants’ School twice a week.

“It’s almost like Bean sulks when we can’t make it as usual,” Julia laughs. “The people we visit get a lot from seeing the dogs, but I really believe Chilli and Bean benefit too.”

Bean enjoys playing with pupils at the Thomas Russell Infants' School twice a week.


Want to check if you have a PAT pet under your roof? (It’s not just dogs! Cats, rabbits and even horses can take part too!) Ask your grown-up to help you visit the Pets As Therapy website for more information.