Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Therapy Dog Knows When You Are About to Die

Oscar the cat, meet Libby the dog. You may recall Oscar, the cat who lives at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Rhode Island. Oscar doesn't show affection, unless, apparently, he senses a patient is close to death. Then he curls up on their bed next to them. Hardly a comfort.

On the other hand, Libby is a Therapy Dog. Her job is to cheer up people. I have a Therapy Dog, and we go to hospitals and senior centers and he allows people to pet him. It's great for the patients.

In Libby's case, that's her job, too. But there's trouble on the horizon if she won't go into a room. It means the person in the room will pass away within the next 24 hours.

Marge Stiller, Libby's owner, said "The first few times, I really didn't put it together." She said when Libby won't pass the threshold, it's because "she has the ability to know -- I don't want to say predict -- know when a person is going to be passing away within 24 hours." Percentage-wise, "It's 100 percent. It's been 100 percent, yeah," Stiller said.

Stiller also said she never tells patients if their room was bypassed.

Despite the probable smirks out there, this is probably no different than Oscar. In that case, experts theorized the "death sense" was biochemical in nature --- Oscar was smelling something that we humans can't detect ... and his reaction is what gave it credence.

I believe this ... I've even seen dogs who can sniff out skin cancers on people, too (and that dog was accurate!) so why not? Dogs have an even better sense of smell than a cat, so it makes sense to me.

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