California woman Stephanie Herfel realised something was wrong when she started paying attention to her dog's strange behaviour. Today, she owes Sierra her life!
By, 4 Dec 2019
Stephanie has a lot to be thankful for, and mostly for – her dog! Sierra the Siberian Husky has been able to detect cancer in her owner on four separate occasions over the years, and well before it was ever detected by doctors!
A nose for danger
In 2013, a benign cyst was found in Stephanie's ovaries. Stephanie's doctors therefore prescribed medication for her to take at home, but were not otherwise worried about her case.
But Sierra was a little more worried than the doctors. She would come place her snout on Stephanie's belly, but at first, Stephanie thought nothing of it. Sierra behaved in this way time and time again, but still, her owner didn't react.
Finally, one day, Stephanie found her dog curled up in a ball in a closet – her snout under her tail, her eyes watering, and her face almost…frowning. That's when Stephanie knew something was definitely wrong.
So she decided to go see a doctor again. This time, the doctor diagnosed Stephanie with stage 3 ovarian cancer.
After undergoing surgery and 6 months of treatment, Stephanie overcame the terrible cancer.
Just in the nick of time
Two years later, Sierra started sniffing at Stephanie's belly again. This time, Stephanie didn't waste any time, and rushed straight to the doctor's to see if anything was wrong. Indeed, the doctor confirmed that the cancer was back, and that this time, it had started to spread to her liver. But thanks to Sierra's quick diagnosis, Stephanie was saved, once again.
We need to listen to our dog-tors!
A dog's sense of smell is 10,000 times stronger than a human's. This enables dogs to detect certain things that a human never could.
In a recent study by Experimental Biology, 4 Beagles were tested to see if they could smell the difference between a sample of blood from a healthy patient, and a sample of blood from a patient suffering from cancer. Results showed that dogs can accurately sniff out cancer in blood with 97% accuracy.
Since these events in 2015, Sierra has been able to detect cancer in Stephanie 2 more times, well before doctors were able to detect it with their scanners.
One thing is for sure: we need to listen to our pets when they try to communicate with us!