May 9th, 2017


Mind On The Run:

Theory of Mind — According to Dodger

By Anthony Kovatch, M.D., Pediatric Alliance — Arcadia



Part 2:  After two years in the RTF came the potentially pivotal event in Dodger’s story. He was to be adopted by a wealthy professional family and his weeks with us were numbered. He persisted every Thursday with “What do you have for me today?” With a combination of unexplainable jealousy and sadness that I, the fox, would miss him, I retorted: “What do YOU have for ME today?!” I knew in my presumptuous wisdom that he would never reciprocate — the Theory of Mind taught me so. It had already taken me months to teach him to simply say “thank you.”

He scribbled a rough draft of a picture of himself in haste — I supplied the freckles. The next week he presented me with a colored drawing that was so hectic and disorganized that its subject could not be identified. On the day he was discharged to his new family I was to give him the game he always asked for — Quixit. He pre-empted my presentation: “I made something for you.”



True to his inscrutable nature, the identity of the convoluted arrangement of brightly colored pipe cleaners was hard to discern. Quite shocked by this reciprocation of giving, I shamefully asked, “Is it a totem.”

“No, it’s a sword for you,” he said non-judgmentally, although on deeper analysis I imagined it to be a dagger.

“Good luck with your new family, Dodger. What are you going to say when they give you something?” The question was rhetorical so he merely grinned, and as he exited the exam room after my final filing of his button, he offered me a hug — which I accepted in violation of the corporation’s policies.

“And the Little Prince went back to the fox. “Good–bye” He said.

“Good-bye,” said the fox. “Here is my secret. It’s quite simple: One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.”


And so Thursday’s pap was tamed. And the button was history. And against all odds, Dodger was adopted and learned the art of giving; I claim that he had become the hero of his own life. This was no illusion. More ironically and more importantly, the Theory of Mind took a hit and, at least in one unusual case, was disproven.

Nearly a day goes by that I am not thankful for this strangest of magic, and wonder if, without warning or premonition, they might all come back to me — the dead as well as the living. Perhaps, one already had.


Dodger’s second chance. (Artwork by Keelin McKiernan)


PS: If anybody sees a dude of his description roaming the streets and he dares to ask you “What do you have for me today?” please be kind and notify me immediately that he has come back — or at least tell him that I finally finished his story. “No grown-up will ever understand how such a thing could be so important!”


(Dr. Tony Kovatch is a pediatrician at Pediatric Alliance — Arcadia. The Dodger’s story begins here. You can read more Mind On The Run pieces by Dr. Kovatch on The PediaBlog here.)


4 Responses to Mind On The Run

  1. Noooooo—I don’t want it to end!!! Thanks so much!

  2. Thanks so much for reading, Linda! And thanks to Editor Ketyer for taking the risk of posting something a little “outside the box.”
    I am quite certain that I will never cross paths with Dodger or Willy again. But, like the Little Prince and the fox, their memory will remain eternal, as other unfortunates needing compassion and love line up at our gates. It is to these kids on the “waiting list” that this story is fondly dedicated.

  3. Being the mother of one of your ” Golden Girls”, I’ve heard many of these stories. It is both a sad and rewarding job working with such a difficult population of children. But what you did not mention was how these children respond to you and your obvious passion for their needs, regardless of their ability to communicate or reciprocate. I hear stories about your kindness and patience and how they look forward to your visits. They are so fortunate that someone with such a passion for their needs is willing to give his time off to care for them.
    PS: I love the stories and I’m waiting for a sequel.

  4. Thank you, Debbie, for your kind comments—Your daughter is not only one of the “Golden Girls,” but is the “salt” of the organization and all the kids truly listen to her! I think there is definitely a genetic component!
    I think there may be some sequels—remember, the story is dedicated to the “waiting list.”


    Ned Ketyer, M.D.

    Ned Ketyer, M.D.

    Dr. Ketyer has special interests in developmental pediatrics and preventative medicine, specifically how nutrition and the environment affect health. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont and his medical degree from Northwestern University Medical School. He completed his residency at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

    As one of the founding physicians of Pediatric Alliance, PC, Dr. Ketyer served as its president from 1997-2004. He has been practicing general pediatrics at Pediatric Alliance since 1990. Dr. Ketyer and his wife have three boys and live in Pittsburgh's South Hills. 

  • Note: The information included in these posts is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.

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