We've heard stories of dogs finding lost people, detecting explosives and narcotics. Experts say that dogs have the ability to detect scents up to 100,000 times better than a human, and one of the scents dogs can pick up on is cancer. There are several stories of dogs alerting women to this quietly-ticking time bomb.
Four years ago, Nancy Granato was watching her granddaughter's Shih Tzu, Taffy, as she did every day while her granddaughter was at school. This day, however, took an unusual turn. While sitting on Granato's lap, suddenly Taffy started acting agitated, circling around, and gave a quick, strong nudge into Granato's left breast.
The tiny Shih Tzu then jumped down and started doing something she never did before... she barked. "We thought she was mute for a long time, because she didn't bark," Granato recalled. "But she would not stop barking."
With an eerie sense of premonition, Granato felt the spot Taffy nudged and found a strange lump. It was small and soft, but it was still there.
She was concerned enough to get a mammogram, but it came back negative. But Granato persisted, wanting to get further testing based on the dog's unusual behavior and her own instinct: "I said, 'A lump is a lump, I want to get to the bottom of it.' "
She underwent an ultrasound. The doctor said she could indeed feel something, but reassured her that it was probably nothing to worry about.
Undeterred, Granato then called a surgeon who said she could undergo a biopsy to be sure. Four days later, she heard the news she had feared yet anticipated: Cancer.
"I did listen to the dog, but I also listened to me," she said.
Thanks to Taffy's early notification, Granato was still in the first stage of breast cancer, which meant less invasive treatments. Still, she had to undergo 34 chemotherapy treatments, which were grueling.
Taffy was there for her when Granato's usually-strong front showed cracks. "I cried initially, and I held the dog for a long time," said Granato, who has now been in remission for four years. "We call her our little miracle dog," her husband, Lou Granato, said.
While many people don't believe them when they tell Taffy's story, the doctors weren't surprised as they've heard of similar cases.
This past September, another lump was found on one of her frequent checkups. But she wasn't too concerned this time. "The dog didn't bark." Granato said. Apparently Taffy was right again, because when the biopsy results came back, it was benign.
This news story aired in Seattle.
This video also explains how tests are being developed to detect odors from breath for other cancers.
These are just a few of the stories out there regarding dogs detecting cancer and other ailments. With this in mind, perhaps you should consider adopting a shelter dog. Who knows? You just might save each other!