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The Practitioner and the Parrot

Birds of a feather not only flock together; but in the case of Eric Tangalos, MD, CMD, and Sam B. the parrot, they also make rounds together. Sam B. and Dr. Tangalos "worked" together at Bethany Nursing Home about 15 years ago. "He would sit on my shoulder and let the wind blow in his face with outstretched wings as we moved along," said Dr. Tangalos. He added, "He had a penchant to pull out pens from my pocket, so patients thought he was assisting me." Sam also had quite a set of pipes on him. As Dr. Tangalos noted, "Even our deaf patients could 'hear' the vibrations from his squawk."

A sociable bird, Sam B. would move from the doctor's shoulder onto the patient when Dr. Tangalos leaned over for an examination. The colorful bird offered a veritable feast for the senses. "Our patients could see, feel, and hear him. He moved around by using his feet and beak, so they could always sense his presence. And if they wanted, patients could even feed him because he didn't bite," Dr. Tangalos noted. He added, "The only rooms that were off limits had patients who were actively delusional, and trying to explain a parrot on my shoulder was not worth the risk.

Sam B is just one of our pet friends. This year, for the first time, the Foundation will include photos and stories of not only caring canines, but other furry friends in the 2013 Caring Canines calendar. If you have a pet that visits your facility and you would like to nominate them click here for more details. The submission deadline is June 29, 2012.