Hallmar welcomes Hope, the new resident pet

Mercy Cedar Rapids has welcomed a new member to its Hallmar family.

Hope, a 5-year-old AKC-certified Bernese Mountain dog, has joined  Mercy’s residential care facility as a resident pet.

“We recognize that some of our residents have had to give up their pets when they transition to Hallmar, and we’ve also noticed how much our residents have enjoyed visits from pet therapy,” said Tawnya Salsbery, senior director of post-acute and senior services. Hallmar is “thrilled to be able to introduce this new initiative to create additional moments of joy at Hallmar,” added Ms. Salsbery.

According to the Pioneer Network’s Artifacts of Culture Change 2.0 Nursing Homes, best practices for community living include pets. Additionally, medical research has shown that pets have significant positive effects on health and wellbeing.

Throughout months of research to find the dog that would best fit the Hallmar community, leaders discovered Kimberlee’s Kennels in Decorah, which offered to donate Hope to Mercy.

Bernese Mountain dogs are known for their patient, calm and affectionate demeanor. They’re also intelligent with a good-natured and mellow temperament – eager to please and spend time with their human families. Upon meeting and visiting Hope, Hallmar leaders determined that she would be a great addition.

Once Hope is acclimated to the Hallmar environment, she will have her own resident room where she will sleep. Eventually, she’ll have freedom to wander about, go on the patio, ride in the bus and more. Residents who wish to assist staff in caring for her (brushing, taking walks, going outside and so on) are encouraged to do so. Residents will also be invited to participate in activities related to Hope’s arrival and care, including a trip to the pet store to pick out toys, baking homemade dog biscuits and more.

Residents who would prefer not to interact with Hope may opt out of interactions with the dog.

While Mercy has offered pet therapy for many years, Hope is the organization’s first resident pet. Once Hallmar transitions to the new HallMar Village senior living community in 2023, Hope will take up residence there.