In Romania, 3.4 million older people often feel alone, depressed, and like them, 2.5 million strays suffer in silence.

Such daunting figures invite the temptation to think the problem is unsolvable, to abandon hope and hide away the knowledge in a distant recess of our minds.

ROLDA refuses not to try. The longest journeys start with the first step, and we’ll start small, but we’ll never give up on our mission to see those figures reach zero.

A GfK study shows that 45% of them (1.5 million) feel lonely, depressed, and useless. They are alone or left by their families to manage because their kids work far away, often in Western countries.

130 (public and private) retirement homes exist across Romania.

Over 4000 people are on a waiting list for a place in retirement homes.

The ROLDA team hopes to bring together lonely dogs and people who have little hope.
Dogs are the perfect companion for the elderly, alleviating loneliness and listlessness by offering the unconditional love, energy, and affection a happy and healthy dog can offer.

ROLDA first visit to the largest local retirement home occurred on Romania’s National Day on the 1st of December 2018. Accompanying us was our little dog, Tarot.

In the summer of 2019, ROLDA returned to visit seniors in the same retirement home, accompanied by dogs Dona and Dan. A group of Swiss volunteers joined us.

Before COVID restrictions – and accompanied by a few ROLDA dogs – we visited a local retirement home where around 100 seniors enjoyed their company for a short while. In the future, we hope to continue these visits in our Pawzup Centre, where we will provide assisted therapy for visitors who will interact with various animals, such as dogs, cats, donkeys and chickens.

We wish to primarily address seniors with no family, no children, and no income to help them provide for their pets. Many seniors choose to adopt or rescue a stray dog or cat because they enjoy their company. They have discovered the simplicity of a happy life in the company of their pets. In a way, the person and the animal have rescued each other.

Quick reminder of the benefits of animals in people’s life

Decrease the heart attack rate

Decrease the risk of heart disease

Help reduce stress levels

Occasionally animals can “smell” disease

ROLDA values this interaction with our community’s elderly as much as the vital work we do for vulnerable animals. Loneliness is as much of a blight on our society as cruelty. ROLDA exists to tackle both of these distressing issues and cement our role as a force of good for humans and animals alike.

ROLDA is uniquely equipped in Romania to bring our dogs to lonely seniors in our local area. This win/win means they can share the wonder and joy of our dogs without the concerns for the upkeep of their pets. Equally, our dogs get oodles of love and strokes, which we know they love.

Many senior citizens in our community live in poverty. Some have no family. More and more seniors prefer to exclude themselves from social activities and isolate themselves because they are often judged or ridiculed by the public.

“After our first visit, we knew we would return. We planned to schedule visits regularly to benefit both lonely people and lonely dogs in need of interaction. I’m sure many would have loved to be there with our team, to witness the moments of genuine and overwhelming joy when dogs that never give up hope meet people with little in their life to hope for.
Sadly, some of the residents we met the first time were no longer there, which serves as a life-lesson for us all: to do what our hearts and consciences demand of us, while we still can, to do all we can to improve the lives of those still with us.”

(Marian, caretaker ROLDA shelter)

Going further where no one else went before

One of ROLDA’s biggest dreams is establishing a therapy center (as part of our PawzUp project) to act as a hub where rescued animals can socialize with the most neglected and isolated people in our communities. There they will provide companionship and joy for the elderly who have lost those closest to them.

We’re lucky enough to have been generously remembered in our supporters’ wills after they have passed, and we think this is a unique opportunity to leave behind a lasting change in the world. What better legacy than to continue to be an animal savior for eternity?

ROLDA is seeking to expand its presence internationally as a charitable legacy gift option for animal lovers around the globe. Learn more about mentioning ROLDA in your will.

Helpful resources

In his book “Healing Powers of Pets”, author Dr Marty Becker believes that dogs have a remarkable impact on people’s happiness and longevity.
In particular, for the senior people our project is addressed, the benefits are significant:

ROLDA will help them find a purpose and a motivation to look after a pet that depends on them.

They will experience the medical benefits of interacting with pets.

They will feel less isolated and more cared for – our projects will also promote and encourage socializing within their communities.