Making Rounds with Oscar
The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat
David Dosa, M.D.
How would you feel if a cat who always appeared when someone was about to die showed up in your hospital room? Don’t be too quick to answer, until you’ve read Making the Rounds with Oscar, by David Dosa.
Oscar, a feline resident of the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Rhode Island loves to visit with patients. That alone is not so uncommon as we have all heard that pet therapy works. Cats and dogs and other small animals have been shown to reduce blood pressure and ease the pain from chronic illness when they are present. However, Oscar has a unique job, at least he thinks so and so do the healthcare workers, nurses and doctors who have worked at Steere House. Oscar has an uncanny ability to sense when a patient’s time has come, he knows when their demise is imminent and will trot off to be with them in their final hours.
Dr. David Dosa is skeptical at first. He has heard the rumors that one of the several cats who live at Steere House seems to know when a patient was dying, even when the doctors don’t. It is Mary, the day shift nurse who first brings the news of Oscar to him. When several incidents occur that confirm the theory, Dr. Dosa decides to investigate and interview patients who have experienced Oscar’s tremendous comforting gift.
One caregiver of a patient tells him:
“Nobody wants to visit a nursing home, let alone the dying. It’s like running into a burning building; the impulse is to run the other way. But Oscar, well, he was different. He didn’t shy away. Actually, he seemed to know when he was needed most.”
Another relative remarked:
“He seemed so convinced of what he was doing. He was so clear in his intention and his dedication.”
This is a beautifully written story about the family of Steere House, the patients, their relatives, the hospital care workers, and one special remarkable cat named Oscar, who knows the importance of living in the present, patience, and making the terminally ill as comfortable as possible when it is their time to die. According to Dosa everyone has a job when caring for the sick, “and it is Oscar’s job to provide the critical companionship during the final hours. “
I must say that several chapters had me sobbing with memories of my own parents. Even though my mom passed away eighteen years ago this March, and my dad more recently, the tears were blurring my vision as I was reading this story. This might give you the impression that this is a depressing book, but it’s not. Oscar’s story is hopeful and special and offers a reassuring lesson of love.
The author offers this sage advice in the final pages, “When the time comes, please remember that letting go of a person with terminal dementia is not a sign of defeat: It is an act of LOVE.” This is a gem of a book with heartfelt stories of people and a prescient cat named Oscar, that will linger in your heart for some time.
Disclosure: This book was purchased by me.