Mercy Hospice Care implemented the Pet Peace of Mind program to provide pet care services for its patients. However, in this case, they used the program to find a dog for Green and her husband.
âWe kind of did things in reverse because what we had was a request from Lenore and her husband. They wanted a certain size dog and a certain breed,â said Nancy Bracken, Mercy Hospice Care director. âWe reached out to all these different contacts that we made since we started Pet Peace of Mind. We said, âLook, we have a patient thatâs looking for this and this and this.ââ
Mercy Hospice Care obtained Maggie Mae from Friends of Noah. The dog was found abandoned near Milwaukee and was fostered by Friends of Noah after no one claimed her. After being contacted by the hospice, Friends of Noah adopted the dog to the couple for no cost.
âWhen they heard the story, it touched their hearts and they coordinated everything from there,â said Angie Marshall, a volunteer nurse for the Pet Peace of Mind program. âIt was very seamless. Everything fell into place.
âJohn was unique. He didnât ask for much. This was one thing he did ask for. We wanted to make every effort to do it.â
Green said, despite being abandoned, Maggie Mae seems to be a well-trained dog.
âShe mustâve had an owner. She seems to be trained,â Green said. âBefore she eats or has a treat, I have to say âThatâs OK,â so she mustâve been trained and ran away from her first home or something. Thatâs why sheâs always on a leash, because I donât want to lose her.â
Green said Maggie Mae provided a source of comfort for John before her husband died.
âShe gave John the only thing he was really interested in. The only thing that gave him pleasure during the last few weeks of his life was MaggieâŠ,â Green said. âWe would sit together in the morning, and she would always come in right between where we were. She would come and sit with us.â
Laura Bergeron, volunteer coordinator, said Maggie Mae seemed to be the right dog for the couple.
âThere were actually several dogs available at the time, then one by one they were adopted out,â Bergeron said. âThen there were two left, and we just felt Maggie Mae met more of their specifications than the other dog.â
âWe feel that she belongs to all of us,â Marshall added. âWe feel we all had a little part of getting her adopted. Sheâs just so cute. Who couldnât love her?â
About 15 percent of Mercy Hospice Care patients use the Pet Peace program. Some of the services include temporary pet sitting and boarding, pet food and litter, transportation to veterinary and grooming appointments and financial assistance for pet care services. The program serves clients in Rock, Walworth, Green, Jefferson and Dane counties.
Patients may request to have their pet taken to a certain veterinarian or groomer.
âWe always tell the families that if they already have a groomer or use a vet, whatever the case may be, we will take their pet to a particular business,â Bergeron said. âSo, itâs not that weâre taking business away from anybody else. Itâs continuing what the family wants.â
Through the program, Mercy Hospice Care also finds foster care for the pet if no one in the family is able to take care of it. Pet owners and family members often are concerned about what is going to happen to the pet if the owner passes away, Bracken said.
âMany times, families donât know what to do with their loved oneâs pet because theyâre losing their loved one, and yet thereâs this cat or dog or bird or fish that they have to worry about,â Bracken said. âThatâs where we step in, to relieve some of the familyâs and the patientâs stress. The patient no longer has to worry about whatâs going to happen to their dearly beloved pet, and the family can have that burden lifted off of them.â
Mercy Hospice Care began offering the program in December 2012 and has hosted several events, including a bake sale and a plant sale, to help fund the program.
The program has a lot of support from the community, Bergeron said.
âEvery time weâre out in the community, people are just blown away with it,â Bergeron said. âThey just canât believe what the program offers, and itâs specifically for our hospice patients.â
Mercy Hospice Care recently received a Wisconsin Hospital Associationâs Volunteer Excellence Award for the program and has been nominated for two national awards.
âWe werenât expecting (the award) at all, so it was an honor and a privilege to be nominated, and to be a winner, it was amazing,â Bergeron said. âIt just kind of validates why youâre doing what youâre doing.â
The program currently has 10 volunteers; however, Bergeron said they always could use more help. Training is required in order to volunteer.
âAll volunteers, whether theyâre visiting with patients or involved with our music program or veteransâ program or Pet Peace of Mind, they all need to go through the same kind of training,â Bergeron said. âIt gets more specific with Pet Peace of Mind because we have release forms that patients have to sign, in order for us to transport their pets and then for foster care and then to possibly adopt out.â
âWe try to be all-encompassing as far as helping the patients and their family as much as they want. Itâs very much driven by the patient and the family,â Bracken said. âItâs what the patient and the family would like. We donât want to be intrusive. We want to be there as a support.â