Do dogs have the power to detect when their owners are ill?
Dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years and many breeds are prized for their keen sense of smell. Whether finding someone who’s lost, tracking a fugitive, or sniffing out explosives, the strength and accuracy of a dog’s nose is legendary. Marty Becker D.V.M., co-author of “The Healing Power of Pets”, is an expert on the subject:
Using this powerful sense of smell, is it possible a dog can actually diagnose life-threatening illness? Several dog owners have found persuasive evidence that dogs can save lives in mysterious ways.
Nancy Best of Garberville, California, seemed to have it all. She was the mother of three healthy children and owned a successful coffee shop called The Java Joint. In fact, business was going so well, that she had recently opened a second store. Despite Nancy’s hectic lifestyle, her yellow lab, Mia, was always near-by. Nancy had gotten Mia as a puppy:
Nancy’s mornings were spent running the coffee house. But at about 1:00 P.M. each afternoon, Nancy set aside time just for herself and Mia. Then one afternoon, out of the blue, Nancy noticed that Mia was acting strangely:
But Mia was persistent. The following evening, as Nancy was struggling to fall asleep, Mia began tugging at Nancy’s bedcovers:
Desperate for her much-needed sleep, Nancy banished Mia to the backyard. The following day, during Nancy’s afternoon break, Mia did the same thing. Nancy couldn’t believe it:
Medical tests found Nancy had a cancerous tumor in her breast. A lumpectomy confirmed the worst: she had a stage two invasive ductile carcinoma, a very aggressive form of breast cancer. Marty Becker found out about how she discovered the lump and started to do a little research:
Nancy had a partial mastectomy. Months of chemotherapy and radiation therapy followed. Since 2000, Nancy has been cancer-free. She thanks her dog Mia for potentially saving her life:
If it’s possible for a dog to sniff out cancer, are there even more profound life-saving powers a pet can offer? Darlene Werremeyer of Spokane, Washington, thinks so. She believes her dog, Shadow, is a prime example:
After Darlene was diagnosed with diabetes in 1991, she had a series of medical setbacks. While recovering from open-heart surgery, she suffered a stroke. For a while, she lost her ability to speak. After several years of therapy, Darlene recovered her speech but had a problem with stuttering. At a family reunion, the anxiety of being in a crowd made that stutter even worse. Darlene Werremeyer:
So phenomenal that as soon as she returned home, Darlene had to tell her neurologist:
So on doctor’s orders, Darlene adopted a schnauzer of her own, which she named Shadow. The bond between Darlene and Shadow quickly grew and Darlene’s speech improved. Dr. Carol Wysham, MD, was Darlene’s physician:
Soon after adopting Shadow, Darlene learned what an extraordinary animal he really was.
Uncertain why Shadow was upset, Darlene checked the glucose level of her blood; it was dangerously low. If a diabetic’s blood sugar level drops too far, it can trigger unconsciousness or even a coma. Dr. Wysham:
Darlene Werremeyer and Nancy Best have no doubt that they are alive because of the mysterious powers of their dogs. Marty Becker is equally amazed by the abilities of man’s best friend: