Respectful Insolence

The dog of doom

I knew it.

I knew it wouldn’t be long before this happened. About three weeks ago, we had the Oscar the Death Cat, a.k.a. the kitty of doom. Given the discussions of animals and death and speculation that other animals might be able to “predict” impending death, you knew it was coming.

Behold the Doggy of Death:

i-afa39f2e9d69914b833bcc5f96f176c4-scamp_175x125.jpg

His name is Scamp, and he lives at a nursing home in Ohio:

Scamp, a Schnauzer, lives at The Pines nursing home in Ohio – where his owner, a staff member, claims he has been present for the death of virtually every patient for the past three years. That’s around forty deaths, twice as many as Oscar the cat’s kill count of 20.

Deirdre Huth, Scamps owner, says that the doomhound always turns up in the hours before one of the residents dies, waiting patiently in their room until they pass away.

‘He has either barked or he’ll pace around the room. The only time he barks is when he’s trying to tell us something’s wrong,’ she said.

‘It’s not like he’s a grim reaper,’ she added, inaccurately.

Can you say “confirmation bias” again? Sure, I knew you could. At least this story didn’t make it into the New England Journal of Medicine.

I’m beginning to wonder if, in the wake of Oscar’s reaping, we’ll see an epidemic of death-predicting animals?

Happy the Death Hamster, anyone?

Comments

  1. #1 Warren
    August 17, 2007

    Happy the Death Hamster, anyone?

    How about Harry the Death Tarantula?

    (If you’re a cricket, it’s an apt name.)

  2. #2 Brendan S
    August 17, 2007

    Dogs get nervous when people die?

    STOP THE PRESSES!

  3. #3 obscurifer
    August 17, 2007

    I’ll bet that the unicorns can predict death.

  4. #4 Dale
    August 17, 2007

    This sounds like a variation on that old joke about the pet owner with a dead parrot who asked his vet for a second opinion and was then charged extra for the CAT scan and the Lab test.

  5. #5 notmercury
    August 17, 2007

    When it comes to accurately predicting death, nothing comes close to vultures.

  6. #6 Joseph Hertzlinger
    August 17, 2007

    I’m sure vultures can predict death.

  7. #7 Thony C.
    August 17, 2007

    When can we expect the “fish of fate”?

  8. #8 gadgeezer
    August 17, 2007

    When can we expect the televised duet of Scamp and Oscar –

    Anything you can doom, I can doom better
    I can doom anything better than you
    Mew you can’t
    Woof I can

    etc. etc.

  9. #9 MartinC
    August 17, 2007

    I bet the residents of those nursing homes REALLY love those pets.

  10. #10 Crosius
    August 17, 2007

    Besides confirmation bias, there’s probably also a reaction to the pet by the residents.

    If a credulous or superstitious person was living in such a home and a supposedly death-predicting-animal entered the room, they’d have to be mere hours from death not to chase the thing out.

    Also, what about the possibility of anxiety induced by the animal’s lurking causing heart attacks or strokes? Are the staff sadists? After an animal gets a reputation like that the superstitious residents are going to be stressed whenever the animal gets near them.

  11. #11 Bob
    August 17, 2007

    “That’s around forty deaths, twice as many as Oscar the cat’s kill count of 20.”

    It was 25, right? They can’t even count the hits!

  12. #12 Sastra
    August 17, 2007

    Didn’t there used to be some sort of superstition about a “death beetle?” It would start making noises, and this predicted a death. Somewhere.

  13. #13 Dale
    August 17, 2007

    I’d be more impressed with these animals if they were predicting death in somewhere like… oh I dunno … maybe a health club or a university classroom.

  14. #14 Graculus
    August 17, 2007

    Didn’t there used to be some sort of superstition about a “death beetle?” It would start making noises, and this predicted a death. Somewhere.

    Deathwatch Beetle.

    Back before hospitals and modern medicine, anyone sitting up at night with a sick person would be quiet enough to hear the clicking of it’s mating call. Normally things weren’t quiet enough to hear them, hence the reputation.

  15. #15 coz
    August 17, 2007

    Anyone got a pet Banshee?
    Could hire it out for nursing homes and children’s parties.

    As GIR from Invader Zim would say “I’m going to sing to Doom song now…Doom, doom doom doom doomy doom……”

  16. #16 sailor
    August 17, 2007

    “When it comes to accurately predicting death, nothing comes close to vultures”

    “I’m sure vultures can predict death”

    You are of course right, but it not that easy to get them into nursing homes. There is just something a bit too discouraging about those big beady eyes staring at you from the bedstead. so I guess we are stuck with fluffy animals for the time being. Judsging by its name it could be the death watch beetle would do the job, but it might go unnoticed staring out a hole in the bedhead.

  17. #17 S. Rivlin
    August 18, 2007

    Are not the owners of nursing homes vultures? Not only they predict their customers death, sometimes they plan it.

  18. #18 Romeo Vitelli
    August 18, 2007

    Can anyone ever considered that these animals like to hang around dying patients because they are hoping to score some fresh meat? They are descended from scavengers after all.

  19. #19 Melski
    August 18, 2007

    Romeo – I had the same thought. Do you really think these animals have some kind of sixth sense? I think they are either looking for an easy meal or for a warm place to sleep. People are nice and warm, after all, at least while they are still alive – and if they’re very still because they are in the process of dying, then they won’t move or toss you off the bed.

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