Thursday, April 15, 2010

Making Rounds with Oscar

Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary
By David Dosa, M.D.
Published by Hyperion
Copyright 2010

Dr. Dosa is a geriatrician and assistant professor of medicine at the Warren Alpert Medicine School of Brown University. Several of his patients reside at Steere House, a facility serving the elderly who need extra nursing care. Steere House also serves as residence for several cat. One particular cat, Oscar, lives on the third floor where those who need the most care due to dementia or need end-of-life hospice care reside.

Dr. Dosa begins hearing stories of how Oscar has a gift for identifying those who are nearing death. Being a scientific-minded sort, the good doctor scoffs at first. But as time goes by he becomes curious and begins to interview those families who have had a Steere House resident who was on the receiving end of Oscar’s peculiar services. The book revolves around Dr. Dosa’s supposed skepticism and these interviews.

Having lived with cats for some 40 years now and also having had a mother who had Alzheimer’s disease, I was eager to read this book. However, I was rather disappointed. Dr. Dosa’s skepticism seemed a rather disingenuous device to base the book around. After all, therapy dogs have been around for a long time now, as have cancer-sniffing dogs and those who sense oncoming epileptic and diabetic seizures. We have scientific evidence that the proximity of a pet can lower blood pressure and aid the release of relaxing endorphins. Why could there not be a cat who senses the advent of death?

But then, I have lived with cats and have benefitted from their presence in my life. Dr. Dosa had not. I suppose I should cut him some slack.

I can just see Oscar lifting a hind leg to do his laundry and thinking, “What’s the big deal?”

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spring is Sprung...

...the grass is riz. I wonder where the birdies iz.

Well, the birdies are daily emptying our feeder and attacking the suet with great fervor. We're particularly fond of a pair of Downy Woodpeckers and a pair of Red-Headed Woodpeckers that hang around the suet like it was the office water-cooler. We've also got Chickadees, Sparrows, Starlings, Bluejays, Mourning Doves and darling little Wrens.

Archie - whose feisty little butt that is in the picture - is in doggy Nirvana with birds, chipmunks and squirrels to chase and neighborhood dogs to visit through the fence. He's a lightning streak running from one place to another in the yard. So much to do and see, so little time. Brandy tries to keep up, poor baby, but gives up after a bit in disgusted resignation. And Dusty just snorts, does his patrol around the perimeter (his job, you know, is to keep the world safe from squirrels) then sits like a sentry near the patio, nose ever on the job sniffing the air for any sign of significant intruders (i.e., the aformentioned squirrels - there's one particularly annoying chubby fellow with white ears who totally delights in tantalizing the dogs with tail twitches and stare-downs and has been Dusty's chief nemesis for the last couple years).

As for me, I sit at my computer sending out resumes on these fine spring days. Not fun. Very few Administrative Assistant positions available in the area right now. No big surprise there, but aggravating none-the-less. However, I have been reading some wonderful books! I will be posting reviews of a few within the next few days.

Enjoy these greenly blissful days full of expectations and promises!