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September 29, 2007

Oliver learns to Count..






"Oliver Learns to Talk" is just one of the many really neat animal videos that can be found at one of our sister sites www.AnimalLoversUnited.com
Head on over with a hot cup of coffee and see cute videos of allkinds of companion anials. It's like a *you tube* for pets!
Have a favorite video you'd like to share? Upload for free! Tell your friends! Don't get lost in the sea of You Tube! Visit and participate in the best animal only video site on the web!

Posted by sue at 07:24 AM | Comments (0)

September 28, 2007

More Parrots Need Your Help

Sent from the Gabriel Foundation (click to donate)

More than 60 parrots are now housed at the Acoma Street location. Only 10 of those birds were on our waiting list. Twenty-eight of those birds plus a pigeon came to TGF as a voluntary relinquishment from a hoarding situation. We are awaiting information from animal control about the dozens of other birds still in the home, set to have been returned to their original owners during the past 2 weeks.

One week ago, TGF retrieved 18 lovebirds from one woman who was "done with them." She began with 4 lovebirds, thought that the eggs and subsequent babies were "cute". Pretty soon there were 18. All in- bred. Now, too messy, too much work for her lifestyle.

Then there's Shadow - an Umbrella cockatoo, turned in to a local animal shelter. Someone had him for 17 years, then he went from home to home as his screaming intensified during the past few months...

Cassie, an Umbrella cockatoo, lost her home last week because her owner is severely ill and in and out of hospitals. The owner was so worried about Cassie being alone all of the time. Cassie, much beloved, was relinquished.

Four weeks ago we received a call from a breeder whose life circumstances changed. He needed to place all of his birds. He sold many into breeding situations; but 6 breeder cockatiels, a feather plucked 8 y.o. former pet B&G, and a pair of Vasas came to us.

An urgent call came in on Monday- come get her cockatiel or the woman would be evicted. We went to get the bird. The house was grim and smoke filled. We saw a sad B&G sitting in the dingy room - asked about it. We were told that the bird NEVER makes any noise, but neighbors complained about the cockatiel. We sadly left with just the cockatiel.

Today, a couple appeared with a Quaker in hand. They needed to get rid of it right away because it was attacking their other birds. Originally found 10 years ago in a tree - it's now causing too much trouble.
Can you help us help these birds? The current bird waiting list to enter aviary quarantine numbers is over 100. We have received completed paperwork for a Nanday, Blue-crowned and Green cheeked conures, 2 B&G macaws, 3 Amazons, 2 cockatoos, 3 Poicehpalus, and more cockatiels.

Your generosity makes a World of Difference! Many, many thanks and our deepest gratitude goes out to you all on behalf of the dozens of parrots that required our immediate intervention.


Posted by sue at 09:14 AM | Comments (0)

September 27, 2007

Remembering Alex

Maggie, puplisher of Naure's Corner Magazine has had a long relationship with Irene and Alex. It has been devistating to Irene to have lost Alex, let alone all the.. well, misinformation that has floated on email lists, blogs etc.
Please help to support Irene in her continued research. ~sue

AlexPins.jpg


(Shown larger that actual size)
Copyright notice will not be on your pin
The Alex Memorial PIn

is now available at the the Alex Foundation web site

www.AlexFoundation.org

All proceeds go the Alex Memorial Fund

This pin is NOT recommended for children

Posted by sue at 06:20 AM | Comments (0)

September 21, 2007

Still learning from Alex

A thread from the New York Bird club can be seen here. Our own Maggie Wrights reply, is below. Please read both.. so interesting!

The following reply from Michelle ("Sad News Pepperberg....") and correspondence with Mira Tweti, award-winning journalist, re ALEX (Avian Laboratory Experiment) has inspired me to start this thought provoking thread.

If ALEX did not learn to mimic words, could not satisfactory finish puzzles and just sat on a perch all day, a sweet bird no doubt, but did not demonstrate the intelligence of a 2 year old human, what would the consequences be for the African Grey parrot and maybe other exotics?

Perhaps there would not be as many bird mills (Scudders Bird Mill), perhaps there would not be as many pet stores or breeders in existence, perhaps there would not be as many plucked African Greys, or humans demanding that their parrot "talk" (some birds were given away because they could not mimic). Do we need proof of animals' intelligence before they are deemed worthy in our eyes? The ALEX experiment created a market for African Grey parrots and other exotics based upon unrealistic expectations. Animals should not have to prove their self worth before they are shown compassion and respect. If similar research with positive results is done on insects and cockroaches, would they not be stepped on; I say not, but you may suddenly start seeing them being sold in petstores and being exploited by commercialism...

Parrots have not benefitted by the ALEX experiment -- they have not been released back into the wild, and they have not stopped poaching them, and I do not believe they are being treated better than before ALEX. However, there are more and more parrots found in sanctuaries and shelters waiting for homes with more being bred. Dr. Pepperberg has proved that African Greys have the intelligence of a 2 year old human -- but at what price to ALEX? We will never know because he is not talking and who cares. I for one love, respect, cherish and adore animals whether they have the intelligence of a 2 year old, a 10 year old or have limited intelligence. Each creature and living entity has the right to exist on our planet and live in peace and harmony as much as it is possible. While some of us argue that animals are needed by humans for food and clothing, and this certainly is open for debate, we do not need a bird in a cage for the survival of the human race.

Blessings and peace to all.

Michelle's reply:

"I am very sorry that Alex has died. I am sure that Irene cared for him very much. I am not extremely familiar with her work, but I really can't understand why scientific research is necessary to prove that any living thing is a sentient being and aware of it's surroundings. A being could not survive were it not aware of it's surroundings. Do any of us really think that because a dog cannot say blue or red that it is not conscious of the difference between blue and red? one and many? Does a female of any species not realize when one of its young is missing? The mother does not say oh there are some here that must be all of them. A dog with 10 puppies knows that one of the group is missing. Each of our "non speaking" birds has a name for us in it's own language. It took me years to distinguish the sound that my last lovebird had for me, and I have not yet, after 2 years, distinguished my current bird's name for me.

Research with Alex began 30 years ago when people's views of animals were very different, but I don't see the need for it today.

Recently I read an article about research being conducted in Japan. Dogs were confused when shown a video of someone else speaking in their person's voice. Did anyone actually think that a dog could not distinguish the voices of people they know and connect them with their faces? Millions of dollars had to be spent on this? I think it is the people who need to be researched not the animals.

Its just my opinion so please don't jump down my throat."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Maggie's reply:
Dear New York Bird Club Thread on “discounting Alex research”,

I have been helping Dr. Pepperberg answer emails about Alex. Based on many hundreds of email messages and thought-provoking editorials in publications such as the NY Times, thank God many people would disagree with you. So many parrot owners have THANKED Dr. Pepperberg for helping them see the potential of their birds. And they have spent more time teaching them and paying attention to them.

You say that parrots have not benefited from the research….they have not been released back into the wild. Domestically raised parrots should NEVER be released in the wild. They would not know how to survive! They are taught by their parents what to eat and not to eat…and how to avoid predators. Domestically raised parrots did not get that education from their bird parents. They would be eaten up immediately. It is against the law to sell wild caught parrots in the US. Thank goodness other countries are also making this rule. So, if you use the fact that they have not been released back into the wild as the indicator of whether or not the Alex research has benefited parrots, you are right. Most people know better than to throw indefensible animals into an environment where they haven’t a clue how to survive.

There are people who love their animals whether or not they are intelligent. I agree with that. All animals are wonderful, smart or not. Each creature does have the right to exist on this earth. But it also has the right to be respected. It deserves the right to have us recognize that man is not as superior as he thinks over animals. They have the right to humane treatment and to be seen as something more than as mere autotons.

Even IF the Alex research had not been done, smart birds would be sitting in cages. They would be “shocking” their owners with intelligent comments or reactions to things. But the evidence would be only seen as “anecdotal.” Greys and other parrots and wild birds like the crows have always been smart. …and other animals too. But no one would recognize it and they would be raised and sold, as they have in the past.

Paula, you state that the ALEX research started 30 years ago when people’s views of animals were different….but we don’t need it today because we see them differently. Did it ever occur to you that maybe the attitudes are different today about animals because of the dedicated research that Dr. Pepperberg and Alex did together?

Thank you for your time. One thing we can ALL agree on is that we LOVE our feathered companions. Aren’t we blessed!?!

Maggie Wright


Posted by sue at 06:59 AM | Comments (0)

September 20, 2007

Cockatiels are people too!

Bird beats senior in vote at Halifax nursing home
Residents of a Halifax nursing home voted over-
whelmingly Thursday to keep Vicky, their pet cockatiel, exactly where she is.

cockatiel.jpgBetty Duruty stares down her cockatiel nemesis, Vicky, at her nursing home earlier this week. Ms. Duruty says the bird's noisy squawking gives her migraines. The senior's fellow residents voted on Thursday that the bird stays.

Betty Duruty, the 73-year-old whose fourth-floor room sits adjacent to the bird’s cage, had complained Vicky’s squawking gives her migraines, prompting a meeting of residents to decide the fowl’s fate.

Posted by sue at 09:28 AM | Comments (0)

September 17, 2007

Ex-Racing Greyhounds, need your help, your love, and homes!

Friend of Nature's Corner Magazine, Carol Becker, President
God's Greyts Greyhound Group, Inc. has sent us information of great importance for all dog lovers! Please take a moment with your hot coffee, and read this article filled with facts, and links to help. More Greyhound links at end of article, don't miss them! ~sue

greyhound.jpg
Breezin Rylee is a cat friendly greyhound that needs a lot of activity. She's full of fun and wants to PLAY! If you're looking for a jogging partner, Rylee is ready to go!

Dear Dog Lover,

New laws recently passed in Florida and other states have caused a serious situation for racing greyhounds. Prior to these laws being enacted, gambling casinos on site at greyhound race tracks were not allowed to operate poker rooms or simulcast betting unless live greyhound racing was taking place. Now, the new laws do not require live racing for the (more profitable) other types of gambling to be offered to the public.

Consequently, dog tracks are quickly discontinuing live racing, either seasonally or completely. The temporary closing of the Melbourne FL track and permanent closing of the track in Tampa have left hundreds of retired racers languishing in adoption kennels, waiting for someone to taken them in. The dogs that were fast enough runners to be sent to another functioning dog track are overcrowding the kennels at those tracks and the retired dogs that have been there waiting for an adoption group to claim them are vying for limited kennel space. These retired wanna-be-pets are at risk of losing the small cages that that they live in. Dog tracks all over the country are being scheduled to close and the situation is only going to get worse...

Finding permanent homes for ex-racing greyhounds is a constant challenge and concern. There are simply more dogs than there are adopters and there are greyhounds at risk everywhere. No one wants to see these beautiful creatures being put down when their only crime was not running fast enough. Man created this problem and it is up to us to fix it.

Retired greyhounds make fantastic house pets. Contrary to some peoples' misconceptions, greyhounds do not need to run or have lots of space. They like small spaces and all they need are regular walks for exercise, just like any other dog. There are a few important guidelines to observe when adopting a greyhound. One is that they can never be let off leash unless in a completely fenced in area and the other is that they cannot live outdoors or be left out for long periods of time.

If you are interested in fostering, adopting or otherwise assisting ex-racing greyhounds, we hope that you will contact your nearest greyhound adoption/rescue group. You can find one by searching here:

http://www.adopt-a-greyhound.org/directory/list.cfm

Click on your state and then narrow the search to your city or town. The group nearest you will be happy to provide information concerning retired greyhounds and how you can help.

For those in the central Florida area, we encourage you contact the following groups:

http://www.godsgreyts.com/ (God's Greyts, Orlando)

http://www.floridagreyhounds.com/index.html (GPACF Melbourne)

http://www.greyhoundpetsdaytona.org/ (GPA Daytona)

http://www.goldcoastgreyhounds.com/ (Gold Coast Greyhounds, Clearwater)

With 15 dog tracks in Florida (more than any other state), many Florida greyhounds are being sent to adoption groups in other parts of the country. Transporting greyhounds is a very costly, but necessary undertaking for us and an ongoing process.

God's Greyts is a not-for-profit rescue group working tirelessly to move greyhounds from race kennels in central Florida, to the vet for vaccines, dentals, spay and neutering and into loving homes.

If you wish to assist us financially to accomplish this, your donation, no matter how small, would be a huge help to us and you can do so securely by Paypal using the email address godsgreyts@mac.com. Simply go to Paypal and choose "send money". Paste in godsgreyts@mac.com in the TO: Box on the right side of your screen. Your gift would be greatly appreciated.
(you may also donate right from Carol's site! link below. Please be generous and tell her Nature's Corner BLOG sent you! =) ~sue)

Or, you may send a check to:
God's Greyts
7259 Hiawassee Oak Dr.
Orlando FL 32818


If you'd like more information on retired greyhounds, please write to us and we can email you a brief handbook.

Thank you,
Carol Becker

President

God's Greyts Greyhound Group, Inc.
http://www.godsgreyts.com/
godsgreyts@mac.com

Posted by sue at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)

September 14, 2007

Animal Acres: FIRE EVACUATION FUNDING

animal acres.jpg

Dear Friend of Animal Acres,

We are writing to APPEAL for your help for the safety of the sanctuary animals. Animal Acres is located in a high fire area, and yesterday, a major fire broke out less than 1/4 mile from the sanctuary.

We had already started working on developing an evacuation site, and raised sponsorship funding for one transport trailer. After loading half of the sanctuary animals before the fire was brought under control, it became very clear that we will need to have sufficient vehicles and transport trailers to evacuate ALL of the animals at once. To do this, WE NEED YOUR HELP.

FIRE EVACUATION FUNDING NEEDS:
Transport Trailers: We need a minimum of three large transport trailers, and currently, only have one. We are ordering the trailers THIS WEEK. We are purchasing a 30' trailer & gooseneck hitch ($24,500) and a 16' trailer ($11,000).

firealert.jpg


Evacuation Site: We are setting up an evacuation center with fencing, temporary housing, housing sheds, feeding & watering equipment, and a caregiver trailer so we have access to a SAFE EVACUATION SITE 24/7. The cost of the evacuation site will be approximately $15,000.

Your donation to the EMERGENCY EVACUATION FUND is urgently needed. Please give a donation of any amount to help us TODAY. We, and our farm animal friends, are counting on you, now, more than ever. Please click here to make a donation and write for Emergency Evacuation Fund in the donation notes box...

FIRE EVACUATION VOLUNTEER NEEDS:
1. We need help SETTING UP THE EVACUATION SITE. If you can help, please come to the sanctuary any Saturday. We are asking volunteers to arrive by 11 a.m. and commit to 3 hours of work so we can carpool to the evacuation area. Volunteers are also needed other days of the week to clear out brush on the Animal Acres property - please email us the date(s) you can join us.

2. We need more volunteers to serve on our EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM. ERT volunteers must commit to evacuation training sessions and/or volunteer for animal health check days so you can learn how to properly move animals and become familiar with the sanctuary animals and property. ERT volunteers will also need to have a cell phone and should be able to respond immediately 24/7.

The next evacuation training day will be held on September 30 at 11:00 a.m. Please email us if you would like to be a part of the ERT Team.

Thank you from ALL of us at Animal Acres.
Lorri Bauston, President
Animal Acres
Animal Acres is a Los Angeles farmed animal sanctuary and compassionate living center directed by Farm Sanctuary co-founder Lorri Bauston. Thank you for your support.

© 2006-2007 Animal Acres. All rights reserved. ANIMAL ACRES
5200 Escondido Canyon Road Acton, CA 93510
Phone: 661.269.5404 Fax: 661.269.0194
Email: info@animalacres.org
Website: www.animalacres.org

Posted by sue at 08:01 AM | Comments (0)

September 13, 2007

Online Dog Expo, information/update!

The schedule for the two day event is up on the site here: http://www.onlinedogexpo.com/event-schedule/ so you can check what time your seminar is and what day.

All speakers will receive their login information two days prior to the event so we can get your sound check done early. Jeannie will be co-ordinating that with each of you so please get together a time with her for the 27th of this month to get your sound check done. You can reach her at thewholedog@gmail.com or call her at 530.347.9211.

Everyone else - sponsors and attendees - will receive your login information on the 28th.

We also ask that each speaker be present for their seminar at least 15 minutes prior to your presentation. There will be a 15 minute break at the end of each seminar which will allow us to do a 2nd sound check to make sure we're all set to go. Also, that will be a time for everyone to network with each other and also for attendees to ask questions. However each of you can have an interactive seminar allowing Q&A during your presentation - we're leaving that up to each of you to decide how you want to do that...

We've received a lot of offers of giveaways for which we're very grateful. We'll be announcing the giveaways in a random drawing at the end of the event on Sunday. Once we determine the winner, those of you who have given us a giveaway, we'll provide you with the winner's contact information so you can send them the gift they've won from you.

If anyone would like to provide giveaways just send me the photo of your product or logo of your service, and the offer (you can see what others have donated here http://www.onlinedogexpo.com/giveaways/

Let's get as many people to this event as possible so that the information on natural health for our dogs grows! Jeannie & I are doing this event solo this year so any help in spreading the news we greatly appreciate. There has been a lot of goofy information coming out in the mainstream news lately (online and off) about vaccines, pet food, etc., so we need to UNlearn people or the animals are going to continue to suffer more with all this nonsense. Every single one of you are about empowering people so they can make their own informed decisions for their animals and not rely on this misinformation inundating us all which is why we're so happy you're participating in this event with us. Thank you, you all so rock! Below is the short press release for this week.

Have a tail waggin' day!
Kim Bloomer & Jeannie Thomason, Proverbs 12:10

Online Dog Expo
podcast: http://www.AnimalTalkNaturally.com
radio show: http://www.ATNGoneWild.com

Posted by sue at 09:41 AM | Comments (0)

September 12, 2007

Alex, Our Prince of Hearts

alextop.jpg

Over a decade ago, one of my CAG's Merlin and I traveled to Tucson to see Irene and meet Alex. Alex took a special "liking" to me, which was an honor since he usually preferred to court men. My Merle was horrified and put a stop to that... "That's MY human!" But ever since that first meeting, Mr. Alex has always had a special place in my heart.
God bless this little bird-man with an attitude that turned the science community upside down. To science, he will always be remembered as "that damn bird" because he always proved them wrong. To the rest of the world, he will be remembered as the Prince of Hearts, who showed us that animals are smart and they have feelings.
Please continue the story, at Maggie Wrights African Greys Site.

Posted by sue at 01:08 PM | Comments (0)

September 11, 2007

New York Times on Alex the Grey

Read the New York Times sstory from the Sciene section about Alex.

Posted by sue at 02:31 PM | Comments (0)

September 10, 2007

remembering Alex....

Maggie Wright, has written this in memory of and in defense of Alex..
you may also read the full press release on the foundations site.

Hello Everyone,

I just wanted to add to the discussion here. Irene called me this morning about Alex and was DEVASTATED. We were hoping the news would not seep out until next week so she could go through the grieving process….or at least start it.

The “lab” that is being discussed is a room with cages and with a kitchen area, not much different from some people’s homes. Alex was surrounded by students daily (except some weekends) from 9 to 7, plus an incredible lab manager……very different from most homes where the pet humans go off to work and leave their birds with the radio. Another difference is that the “lab” is very secure and has an incredible ventilation system…..although small.

Of course Alex would get bored at times. He had to repeat the same experiment 500 times (exaggerated estimate) to prove to non-believers that he knew what he was doing. Looking at this from a higher perspective, he dedicated his life to helping Irene educate the world about how smart and emotional BIRDS can be! Oh my! BIRDS…..they used to be seen as stupid…”parrots that ‘parrot’ what you say.” It took a special soul to come into this existence to pull this off. We are all better off because of what Mr. Alex did.

Alex was a sweetheart…..and I guarantee you he would be willing to do it again.

God bless this beautiful little bird-man with an attitude that turned the science community upside down. He’ll always go down in history as “that damn bird” because he always proved them wrong. That was our Alex ……and I love him!!!

God Bless you all. Give your babies an extra hug tonight please.

GREY’T Blessings,

Maggie-

www.AfricanGreys.com

www.AnimalLoversUnited.com

www.NaturesCornerMagazine.com

www.AfricaNature.com

Posted by sue at 11:19 AM | Comments (0)

September 06, 2007

PUPPY!

Look at that sweet face! He was well worth the 6 hours it took to go get him. We have no name for him yet.. we are those kind of folks that like to get to the personality, before we name.

puppy3.jpg

awwwwww!

Posted by sue at 12:22 PM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2007

The 2007 2nd Annual Online Dog Expo Unleashed September 29-30: Celebrating Canines Virtually

Canines have their own bakeries, hotels, and high fashion, and now their own natural health expo online

~Our own Maggie Wright, Publisher of Nature's Corner Magazine, Authur of one of the top 10 books on Parrots, among other endevors, will also be participating. Maggie will be discussing the Human/Animal bond, using her African Greys as an example!~

September 3, 2007 - Dogs seem to have it all these days with special bakeries dedicated to them, haute` couture, along with special doggie daycares and hotels. With this in mind, it isn't surprising that the next big thing for dogs would be their very own online natural health expo.

The 2007 2nd Annual Online Dog Expo, produced by the online radio show Animal Talk Naturally, will take place Saturday September 29 through Sunday September 30. The weekend long event will kick off on Saturday morning at 11AM Eastern.

The Animal Talk Naturally online radio show duet, Kim Bloomer & Jeannie Thomason, are hosting and producing this event for the second year in a row with this year shaping up to be just as exciting as last year's event!

With a line-up of expert speakers ranging in topics on acupressure, nutrition, environmental issues, and more the 2007 2nd Annual Online Dog Expo will bring a wide variety of learning and fun for dog owners, fanciers, professionals, and dog lovers worldwide...

There will also be giveaway prizes for attendees from various sponsors of the event including Vladae the 911 Dog Wizard, Jan Rasmusen author of Scared Poopless, and The Barkery Cafe among others.

"Our mission is to empower dog owners with the knowledge they need to make informed and wise decisions for their dogs. For Jeannie and me, it is always about, and for, the animals." says Bloomer.

"Kim and I began our online radio show to become a voice on natural health for the animals and to share our passion to see the animals begin to thrive and live longer, happier lives. With so many of our beloved pets dying at such a young age of preventable diseases, we desired to help dog owners and fanciers everywhere become armed with knowledge; equipped to be proactive in their pets health care. This Expo is designed to be fun and educational." comments Thomason.

Go to www.OnlineDogExpo.com to purchase your ticket today for only $25 per person for the weekend long event or for more information on topics, presenters, sponsoring and how to attend. Or you can email us at info@onlinedogexpo.com . This event is presented by the American College of Veterinary Naturopathy and the Natural Rearing Breeders Association

Posted by sue at 10:15 AM | Comments (0)

September 03, 2007

Oscar: a very special cat

Sue Note: A Friend of Natures Corner Magazine sent me this article.


Oscar the Cat awakens from his nap, opening a single eye to survey his kingdom. From atop the desk in the doctor's charting area, the cat peers down the two wings of the nursing home's advanced dementia unit. All quiet on the western and eastern fronts. Slowly, he rises and extravagantly stretches his 2-year-old frame, first backward and then forward. He sits up and considers his next move.

In the distance, a resident approaches. It is Mrs. P., who has been living on the dementia unit's third floor for 3 years now. She has long forgotten her family, even though they visit her almost daily. Moderately disheveled after eating her lunch, half of which she now wears on her shirt, Mrs. P. is taking one of her many aimless strolls to nowhere. She glides toward Oscar, pushing her walker and muttering to herself with complete disregard for her surroundings. Perturbed, Oscar watches her carefully and, as she walks by, lets out a gentle hiss, a rattlesnake-like warning that says "leave me alone." She passes him without a glance and continues down the hallway. Oscar is relieved. It is not yet Mrs. P.'s time, and he wants nothing to do with her.

Oscar jumps down off the desk, relieved to be once more alone and in control of his domain. He takes a few moments to drink from his water bowl and grab a quick bite. Satisfied, he enjoys another stretch and sets out on his rounds. Oscar decides to head down the west wing first, along the way sidestepping Mr. S., who is slumped over on a couch in the hallway. With lips slightly pursed, he snores peacefully — perhaps blissfully unaware of where he is now living. Oscar continues down the hallway until he reaches its end and Room 310. The door is closed, so Oscar sits and waits. He has important business here.

oscar_the_cat.jpg

Twenty-five minutes later, the door finally opens, and out walks a nurse's aide carrying dirty linens. "Hello, Oscar," she says. "Are you going inside?" Oscar lets her pass, then makes his way into the room, where there are two people. Lying in a corner bed and facing the wall, Mrs. T. is asleep in a fetal position. Her body is thin and wasted from the breast cancer that has been eating away at her organs. She is mildly jaundiced and has not spoken in several days. Sitting next to her is her daughter, who glances up from her novel to warmly greet the visitor. "Hello, Oscar. How are you today?"

Oscar takes no notice of the woman and leaps up onto the bed. He surveys Mrs. T. She is clearly in the terminal phase of illness, and her breathing is labored. Oscar's examination is interrupted by a nurse, who walks in to ask the daughter whether Mrs. T. is uncomfortable and needs more morphine. The daughter shakes her head, and the nurse retreats. Oscar returns to his work. He sniffs the air, gives Mrs. T. one final look, then jumps off the bed and quickly leaves the room. Not today...

Making his way back up the hallway, Oscar arrives at Room 313. The door is open, and he proceeds inside. Mrs. K. is resting peacefully in her bed, her breathing steady but shallow. She is surrounded by photographs of her grandchildren and one from her wedding day. Despite these keepsakes, she is alone. Oscar jumps onto her bed and again sniffs the air. He pauses to consider the situation, and then turns around twice before curling up beside Mrs. K.

One hour passes. Oscar waits. A nurse walks into the room to check on her patient. She pauses to note Oscar's presence. Concerned, she hurriedly leaves the room and returns to her desk. She grabs Mrs. K.'s chart off the medical-records rack and begins to make phone calls.

Within a half hour the family starts to arrive. Chairs are brought into the room, where the relatives begin their vigil. The priest is called to deliver last rites. And still, Oscar has not budged, instead purring and gently nuzzling Mrs. K. A young grandson asks his mother, "What is the cat doing here?" The mother, fighting back tears, tells him, "He is here to help Grandma get to heaven." Thirty minutes later, Mrs. K. takes her last earthly breath. With this, Oscar sits up, looks around, then departs the room so quietly that the grieving family barely notices.

On his way back to the charting area, Oscar passes a plaque mounted on the wall. On it is engraved a commendation from a local hospice agency: "For his compassionate hospice care, this plaque is awarded to Oscar the Cat." Oscar takes a quick drink of water and returns to his desk to curl up for a long rest. His day's work is done. There will be no more deaths today, not in Room 310 or in any other room for that matter. After all, no one dies on the third floor unless Oscar pays a visit and stays awhile.

Note: Since he was adopted by staff members as a kitten, Oscar the Cat has had an uncanny ability to predict when residents are about to die. Thus far, he has presided over the deaths of more than 25 residents on the third floor of Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island. His mere presence at the bedside is viewed by physicians and nursing home staff as an almost absolute indicator of impending death, allowing staff members to adequately notify families. Oscar has also provided companionship to those who would otherwise have died alone. For his work, he is highly regarded by the physicians and staff at Steere House and by the families of the residents whom he serves.

Posted by sue at 10:42 AM | Comments (0)