Aftershocks of ADD catastrophic


by admin on July 7, 2010

By Martti Lahtinen

When Low Down staffer Trevor Greenway and partner Paulina Ciechanowska’s newborn, Cora, landed with a thud during the earthquake on June 23, I got to thinking what an impact new little people have on families.

My daughter Kalli gave birth eight months ago – Sawyer is my grandson’s name – and the event, though not as seismic as Cora’s coming into the world, has not been without aftershocks. I’m now a grandfather, and I can’t get my head around being called “Grandpa.”

My wife Diane beams in the light of her remembered maternal role, and it shows in the way she lovingly cuddles the pup. Sawyer and I get along just fine, and our falling asleep together while watching an Ottawa Senators snorer on TV during my first solo babysitting gig cemented our bond. But the grandad thing? Jeez, I feel old.

Meanwhile, Sawyer’s attendant needs relegated Kalli’s cat, Barney, to the second tier of affection-seekers in the Aylmer home. Barney began to show signs of ADD – Attention Displacement Disorder – and his initial curiosity about the wailing bundle that needed constant feeding, patting, burping, diapering escalated into cat-niptions.

With his Miffed Indicator in the red zone, Barney began peeing on the furniture and the baby’s paraphernalia near Kalli’s preferred feeding station to signal his dropping to No. 2, forcing my son-in-law Charlie and Kalli to make a hard choice: keep Sawyer or keep Barney. The cat lost out, and a phone message signalled his availability on waivers.

He arrived in Chelsea with his carrier, leftover cat victuals, a bottle of laxative and, of course, the dumper – including the plastic poop strainer. Nobody leapt into the caring and nurturing of the new family addition, but because Barney’s hours parallel those of an acknowledged night owl, who was fingered for the food, water and waste detail? Right, good ol’ Grandpa.

At about the same time as Barney claimed his squatter’s rights in my downstairs quarters, I ran across a news piece that shook me – albeit briefly: “A cat with an uncanny ability to detect when nursing home patients are about to die has proven itself in around 50 cases by curling up with them in their final hours.”

The cat, named Oscar, is the subject of a book, Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat, by Dr. David Dosa, a geriatrician and assistant professor at Brown University. The doctor suggests Oscar is able to detect ketones, the distinctively odoured biochemicals given off by dying cells.

Barney curls up and sleeps at my feet, which might explain the distinctively odoured biochemicals. But I do have a ticker problem – arrhythmia – and the family doctor and a cardiac specialist are near at hand should the condition become worrisome.

Meanwhile, I see the bright side. An old guy with a heart condition gets a free CAT scan from Barney every night, in exchange for feeding him and cleaning out his litter box. And should I ever have reason to question the prognoses of the GP and cardio specialist, I would ask Barney for a turd opinion. Earth-shaking news, at the very least.