All of us can relate to the fact that dogs are man’s best friend. But what if, by chance, that bond between you goes a lot deeper that friendship and your pet becomes your savior? Shepard-lab mix sniffed out owner’s lung cancer before it had a chance to spread.
Anne Willis and her dog, a 9-year-old shepherd and Labrador mix, worked together in an organization called Dogs Find Dogs. The goals of the NPO was to find missing pets and return them to their rightful owner.
Even from the beginning, Willi’s dog, by the name of Heidi, displayed uncanny feats when it came to finding missing pets. According to her owner, Heidi was capable of solving every case they had over the years. And Heidi’s records speaks for themselves: over several years, Heidi and her owner were able to track down and return more than 2000 missing pets.
But Willis declared, in an interview offered to NBC, that Heidi displayed an unusual behavior for the last couple of months. She was slightly more aggressive and every time she was with her owner, the dog would bury his nose in Willis’s chest and sniff out very hard.
Growing worried that something might actually be wrong with her, Willis decided to see a doctor in order to find out what’s wrong with her. It was not long until the doctors were able to find out why the dog was behaving so strangely.
During an exam, Willi’s attending physician discovered three spots on her chests, consistent with the first stages of lung cancer. After months of treatment, Anne was on her feet again and returned to finding pets again.
Doctor Ensel Cole, Anne’s oncology and the chief of medical oncology working for the Saint Agnes Hospital said that Heidi can indeed be considered a life saver. The dog was actually capable of detecting Willi’s cancer in the first stages before it could metastasize to her other organs.
For some time now researchers have been aware that dogs are capable of detecting various forms of cancer. Similar to Willis’s case was another, involving a boxer who was able to sniff out her owner’s breast cancer, thus saving her from life-threatening complications.
Since Heidi managed to sniff out her owner’s lung cancer, she has received additional training in order to detect several other forms of cancer including prostate cancer, bladder cancer, and kidney cancer. According to her owner, Heidi aced the 101 cancer sniffing class and she is now able to detect cancer by smelling urine samples. The dog is now able to pick up first stage cancer with a 95 percent accuracy.