One of life’s more existential questions that emerge on the precipice of life and death is often – why have I been saved? In the case of some very special rescue dogs, the answer is to spend the second lease on life in the service of saving their two-legged best friends.
A dog trainer from West Hills, California has been teaching rescue dogs how to detect ovarian cancer from a person’s breath.
Bringing whole new meaning to the issues of halitosis.
Inspired by the struggle of her own mother, trainer Dina Zaphiris has found that healthy people and ovarian cancer patients have distinctly different “flavors” in their breath.
Her research partner at Pine Street Foundation, Michael McCulloch, explains that as a person gets gravely sick their body and breath odor changes.
“It was a no-brainer that if a clinician can detect these odors, that a dog can be trained to detect them, as well,” he said.
The dogs are given cloths that are inserted in small jars after receiving the breath of both healthy and cancer-ridden patients.When the dogs detect the cancerous jar, they are rewarded with a treat.
This isn’t the first time dogs have had their heightened sense of smell put to the test in the name of saving lives. In Japan, dogs have been shown to smell colorectal cancer in stool samples with 98 percent accuracy.
All of this lends us to wonder if the natural tendency for dogs to sniff each other’s “ultimatums” isn’t more about an act of valor to save lives, rather than simply an exercise in banal butt sniffing.
source: CBC News