With the dawn of every new day, it seems like there’s a new study warning us about something that can give us cancer.
We’re advised to get checked often, using annual screenings as our first line of defense against potentially life-threatening situations.
And while these methods of early detection are very good, did you know that outside of being adorable companions, dogs can be trained to detect cancer with just their noses?
It’s true. And it isn’t just cancer, it’s diabetes as well.
A charity in the UK called Medical Detection Dogs was set up in 2008 by Dr. Claire Guest, and has dutifully trained these keen smellers and put them to the test. Among the 50 or so dogs is a pup named Molly, who can identity when her human-companion’s glucose levels are out of whack. For someone suffering from Type 1 diabetes, the detection dog is a lifesaver.
It sounds wonderfully strange and unbelievable, but not to the boy’s mother, Serena, who is immensely grateful for doctor dog.
“She proved herself even when she was in training, barking to let us know the sugars had dropped at least half an hour before the time I had set the alarm for,” Serena told The Telegraph. “He could very easily have slipped into a coma. It doesn’t bear thinking about.”
As for cancer, Dr. Guest has trained 15 dogs to be detectors, and while very much in its early test phases, she says the results have been very promising. How it works is, the dogs are trained to sniff out changes in urine produced by prostate, bladder and urinary cancers, and in the cases of breast cancer, the helper-dogs are trained to be aware of changes in breath. Daisy, Dr. Guest’s own dog, has participated in many clinical prostate studies, and her accuracy rate in sniffing cancers is 93 per cent.
As for the doctor herself, well she’s had her life saved by a dog, too. In 2009, shortly after starting Medical Detection Dogs, Guest’s dog Daisy began behaving erratically, often narrowing in on her left breast. She decided to get it checked out, and lo and behold, she had breast cancer.
This basically gives a whole new meaning to “man’s best friend.” Dogs: cuddly, good for exercise, good for getting dates and, now, well, a little like doctors, too.