Maureen Burns lived a simple life with her 9-year-old border collie, Max. He was usually very lively, loved to go on walks, and above all else, he LOVED to cuddle! But suddenly, he wouldn’t come near her except to smell her breath, nudge her left breast, and back away, never initiating contact with Maureen. Her other dog, an aging greyhound, was acting just fine. Maureen assumed that Max was simply at the end of his long, happy, dog life and was preparing for the eventual loss of her beloved pet.
But his constant nudging of her left breast had her confused. One morning, she sat in front of the mirror and began to do an examination. She hadn’t thought much of it because her recent scans had come back negative for anything unusual…until she felt a lump! She remembers looking up into the mirror and seeing Max lying on the bed with a look in his eyes that said “finally, you noticed!”
She went in to have an examination and expected a good laugh from the nurse when she said “my dog told me!” Instead, the nurse looked up at her and confirmed that they had heard of such a thing before – it was a shock to Maureen!
The 1-inch lump was removed a few short weeks later and was revealed to be cancerous. The doctors were also able to remove four lymph nodes from her underarm in case it was the cancer spreading. They were clear, but she was still relieved.
Many people believe that dogs can be trained to “sniff out” cancer in humans as a dog’s sense of smell is 100,000 times stronger than our own. Because of a distinct odor that the cancer cells give off, it is predicted that dogs could be useful when it came to cancer research. When dogs are fully trained, they can pinpoint cancerous cells in samples by “tapping” different jars laid out in front of them. It is a truly remarkable thing!
In Maureen’s case, Max had saved her life. When she finally came back home, Max could tell that the cancer was gone! “He was acting just like a puppy! Max helped save my life – he was right all along.”
Whether Max intentionally changed his behavior to get Maureen’s attention, we may never know. But we sure are thankful!
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