The Bookworm: A new 'leash' on life and some medical drama

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A new ‘leash’ on life and some medical drama

“There Are No Sad Dogs in Heaven”

By Sonya Fitzpatrick, The Pet Psychic

c. 2013, Berkley

$15/$16 Canada

196 pages

These days, your arms feel awfully empty. The house is too quiet and tidy. There’s no click-click-click of toenails on the floor, no slobbered water, no toys strewn about, no kibble to clean up. You even miss those shedded little hairs.

Your pet is gone, and you’re left with a tagged collar and lots of questions. Is she with other animals somewhere beyond? Did he know how much you loved him? Did she forgive the mistakes you made? In the new book “There Are No Sad Dogs in Heaven” by Sonya Fitzpatrick, you’ll find comfort and answers.

From the time she was very young, Sonya Fitzpatrick knew that she could communicate with animals. Her talent wasn’t the Dr. Doolittle type, though; Fitzpatrick talked with cats, dogs, and cows telepathically “with mental images and physical feelings that don’t depend on hearing ”

Today, that includes animals that live here and those that “live on after they’ve passed from our lives.” She can communicate with them, Fitzpatrick says, because our beloved pets leave us physically but never in spirit. They are here, as they were in life and that comes straight from the horse’s (and dog’s, and cat’s, and rabbit’s) mouth.

When a pet passes, says Fitzpatrick, they are greeted on the other side by other animals and humans they might have known. There is “no separate place for animals” in the spirit world; they spend their heavenly time with all creatures that lived on “this plane.” In the afterlife, they are happy, youthful, and pain-free; Fitzpatrick often sees visions of playful dogs and contented cats.

Animals that have passed over don’t miss us because they never really leave us. They know they were loved, and they often tell Fitzpatrick how much they appreciated the care they enjoyed from us. Still, like humans, animals have a finite time on earth so there’s no need for guilt; they had to “go home” when it was time, whether by accident or illness. Animals also ask Fitzpatrick to urge their humans to get another pet because that new puppy or kitten may be the old pet in a brand-new body.

Annnd I can hear the skeptics right now.

It could be argued, I’m sure, that author Sonya Fitzpatrick tells pet lovers exactly what they want to hear. Indeed, many accounts inside “There Are No Sad Dogs in Heaven” are the same as the last, to wit: Our pets don’t leave us, don’t blame us, are happy in heaven, and may reincarnate. Fitzpatrick does recount some spot-on conversations, but there’s also a lot of overgeneralization.

And yet does it matter? A book like this will undoubtedly offer comfort to grieving pet owners who have empty arms and hearts. Even better, Fitzpatrick strongly urges animal adoptions and responsible pet ownership.

Skeptic or not, it’s hard to argue with the goodness in that, and so I recommend this book especially if you’ve lost a beloved pet. For you, the comfort inside “There Are No Sad Dogs in Heaven” may give you a new leash on life.

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“One Doctor: Close Calls, Cold Cases, and the Mysteries of Medicine”

By Brendan Reilly, M.D.

c. 2013, Atria Books

$28/$32.00 Canada

464 pages

You always hated taking tests. Prepared or not, your hands sweated when faced with a test, and your stomach felt shaky. Whatever you’d learned, it flew from your head the second you sat down.

Today, it’s the same in the hospital as it was in high school: You hate taking tests. But what other way does your doctor have of knowing what’s wrong with you? In the new book “One Doctor” by Brendan Reilly, M.D., you’ll see that moth-eaten methods may beat modern.

“New York doctors don’t work weekends.”

That’s what one of Brendan Reilly’s patients claimed, surprised to see Reilly at her bedside on an early Saturday morning at New York’s Presbyterian Hospital . He was there because he believes that the doctor who “knows you best” is the one who should assume the majority of the caregiving. That’s not the way most medical centers work these days, but it’s the way he prefers to practice medicine.

For Reilly, doing things the old-fashioned way is often better than technology, when making a proper diagnosis. Machines, he points out, can miss the smallest of symptoms: A non-dilated pupil, an errant reflex, a hidden blood clot, rare bacteria that mimics something else.

“Diagnosing disease,” he says, “has something to do with patterns.” Good doctors “grandmasters,” he calls them know how to recognize those patterns without “wasteful, redundant, or ineffective” medical intercession. Such recognition, near-intuition, and the ability to deal with a day when “doctoring feels like pinball” are talents he cultivates in his residents and students.

Even so, there are times when a doctor is stumped by a medical mystery that requires rapt attention and sleuthing skills. That’s when it’s mandatory to listen to a patient, the patients’ ailing body, and one’s own subconscious, as well as medical knowledge new and old. Such mysteries may result in instinctual reaction, and a cure. Other times, they might end with the surety that it’s time to stop.

And on that, says Reilly, doctors “know about regret. But we don’t talk about it. Ever.”

Broken up into thirds, “One Doctor” is a mixed (medical) bag.

Author Brendan Reilly, M.D. starts his book in the wee hours of a typical on-service day in a busy New York hospital, and we’re treated to a whirlwind of intriguing medical cases, Aha! moments, and solutions worthy of a Sherlockian novel. The end of that long day, and the cases of his own parents, are where Reilly wraps up.

I would have been more enthusiastic about this book, had that been the sum of it.

No, instead, the middle third here is taken up by the story of a couple that Reilly knew some 30 years ago, the care of which still resonates in his career. That was interesting at first, but I thought it became overly long.

And yet, I did enjoy this book, overall, and I think lovers of medical dramas will, too. If that’s you, and you’re maybe willing to skip bits that lose your interest, then “One Doctor” tests out well.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. She has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. Terri lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.

© 2013 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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