‘Making Rounds with Oscar’ Book Review & Giveaway

by on Thursday, February 4th, 2010

making the rounds with oscar

A therapeutic book on death, dying, and one almighty cat.

I’ve just loaded the above picture into this post, and who should appropriately appear? Shopcat. Of course, she didn’t. That’s not her way. Instead, I felt the  soft brush of fur against my leg, as she moved about in the shadows under my desk. And just like that…I was convinced cats were psychic!!!  …Kidding. Kidding. Even after reading “Making Rounds with Oscar” I am not “convinced” that cats are “psychic”. And to be fair, that is not the premise of this book. Not at all. It’s what lured me in, but it’s not what kept me turning the pages.

I was sent a copy of “Making Rounds with Oscar – The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat” authored by David Dosa M.D., and as an obvious lover of cats, I — well, quite honestly I’ve lost my train of thought because I went off to play with Shopcat! It wasn’t a “need” to do at this moment, but I think that taking the advice of this book is important. And at its core, this book talks about the curative power of animals – cats in particular. And after I’ve played with Shopcat, freed my mind of everything other than pretending the toy I’m using is a little mouse and we’re in a chocolate factory that Shopcat guards, I do feel a restorative sense of power over my work capabilities. And on this dreary Tuesday morning in the midwest, Shopcat helps me feel less alone.

Helping people fight loneliness is something Oscar the cat does for the patients of Steere House, a nursing home in New England. I am a strong advocate for Animal Assisted Therapy, and truly believe the presence of animals helps people in even their most terrible situations. Heck, maybe especially during the terrible ones.

What makes Oscar such a unique cat to study is his supernatural-like ability to predict patients deaths. That sounds spooky, but it wasn’t like that. Dr. Dosa interviewed many of the patients families and found it was not the case at all – Oscar was not seen as a bad omen or grim reaper. He was seen as a guardian, or someone to help with an impossible transition.

While there are a couple different theories for why Oscar could be able to know when a patient is about to die, it still wouldn’t adequately explain why he does what he does. So even if there’s a science to Oscar being able to smell something in the air that signals a body preparing for death, it doesn’t explain why he’d go lay with them in their final hours. Oscar was there for the patient and the patients families, like a fuzzy ball of warmth.

And Oscar wasn’t just there for the patient. In some cases of  “the final hours” he’d be in the room, but be near the visitor instead. He lent his support. This cat, like I’d say all cats, has a sense of empathy. And like many cats, he’s not generous with it – the book describes him as your typical antisocial cat who makes up his own rules. Now, while this book talks a lot about why having a cat around a nursing home is helpful for patients and visitors to feel a sense of ease, much of this book surprisingly wasn’t about cats at all.

The book talks about the disease of dementia, in particular. A disease that is scary to so many because of it’s horrible power of your life (to erase the memories of someone’s) and because it has no cure. The first time I ever heard about Alzheimer’s disease I thought it couldn’t be actually true. “A disease that wipes someone’s memory? That sounds like a curse in a fairytale!” Curse though it is, a fairytale it is not.

I’ve thankfully not had anyone in my family affected by any type of dementia, but I have had a family member in hospice care due to a massive stroke. Almost too easily I can remember the long generic hallways lined with sad patients dulled into silence, and the sadness and uncertainty of those more difficult visits towards the end. I still found this book a compelling read because of it’s insights into what doctors vs. patients experience when confronted with end of life care for family members. I think this would be a reassuring read for someone who has gone through it, or is currently going through it. You could consider it your weekly therapy session. And just like therapy sometimes does, this book will undoubtedly make you cry a little.

Oscar is famous, although I doubt he would care to be told that. He’s like the Meryl Streep of the celebrity world. Fame doesn’t phase him, and he does not try to exploit it. He just keeps doing what he’s doing. Naturally, Wikipedia has an entire page devoted to Oscar the cat. CBS news recently published a piece titled “Furry Angel of Death? Meet Oscar the Cat” and The Boston Herald warns us to “Beware the Death Cat“. People need to make it funny, or question it. But to people who aren’t afraid of the label of “cat people” I don’t think we are all that surprised by Oscar. Cats are a little bit mystical (as are most animals, in my experience) and they are great comforts.

In the end, the thesis of this book backs up something I’ve long touted as fact to my family:

Life is unfair. But cats make it better.

Shop: Making  Rounds with Oscar – The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Cat

Giveaway: TWO (2) winner(s) will receive a copy of “Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Cat” by David Dosa MD. This is courtesy of Hyperion Books.

– You must be a subscriber of the She’s Smart daily newsletter.  
Your e-mail subject line should be: Oscar the Cat
Mail to shescontests@gmail.com with your name AND address for each entry.
– Please note that you’re a subscriber in your initial e-mail.

Mandatory First Entry – Subscribe then Share! Mail me from your subscribed e-mail account then visit the Amazon link and tell me the name of one of the other recommended books on that page.

Increase your chances of winning! You don’t have to do these in order – you can pick any of them, and often our winners are the people who enter the contests more than one way!

Additional Entry #1 Tweet! Provide your Twitter name so we can see if you’re following Jessica Rae on Twitter , and provide a link to you tweeting about this contest with the exact phrase #Win a #free book! Oscar the cat book #giveaway @shessmart (link to this page)”. Not sure how to show a link to a tweet? Just click on the date and it’ll provide you with the individual tweet you made.

Additional Entry #2 Stumble! Provide your StumbleUpon name – stumble this page or site.

Additional Entry #3 Blog! Provide a link to a blog post you’ve written about this contest of at least 100 words. This can be a blog hosted anywhere – blogspot, livejournal, etc.

Additional Entry #4 Blogroll us! Provide a link to a blog where you’ve put us on your blogroll. This can be a blog hosted anywhere – blogspot, livejournal, etc. It cannot be a nofollow link.

USA residents 18+ only, no P.O boxes. Winner chosen by random.org. The winner(s) will be e-mailed. If you win but are not a subscriber with a validated e-mail you forfeit your prize! If you win but haven’t followed the rules, you are disqualified. This has already happened! We thrive on organization! Leaving comments does NOT enter you into this giveaway. The winner is picked on February 15th, 2010!

Good luck to all of you smart ladies, and have a sparkling day of genuine smiles. You KNOW that you deserve it. XO – Jessica, Eve, Nancy, Shopcat and Shopdog

She shops smart – she’s you! Smart shopping is always in style.

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