"We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare and love we can spare. And in return, dogs give us their all. It’s the best deal man has ever made." —M. Acklam
In 2009 Maureen Burns thought her 9-year-old border collie cross was dying. The otherwise lively dog became quite sombre and quiet. Acknowledging that the dog was growing older she simply thought that it was soon time to say goodbye to Max. How wrong she was.
Burns noticed that Max was sniffing her breath, nudging her right breast, and avoiding cuddles. Something seemed off and on a hunch she conducted a self breast exam. She discovered a small lump in her breast that would later be confirmed as a cancerous tumour. Maureen's first reaction was "I know, my dog told me!"
It ends up that Maureen's case is not that unique. Experts believe that dogs can be trained to detect cancer because a dog's nose is 100x more powerful than a human's. A 2004 study showed that dogs could detect bladder cancer in urine samples; cancer cells produce chemicals that produce an otherwise odourless scent that dogs can detect while humans remain oblivious.
As for Maureen she had the lump removed a few weeks after diagnosis and is now in remission. She says that Max was right all along and she owes her life to him. She and Max live with Maureen's husband Roger and their other dog Grace in Rugby, Warwickshire, UK.
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