Category: Working Animals

The Dog’s Nose in Prostate Cancer Detection

Puppies are born blind and deaf, and stay this way until approximately 14 days of age, so their lives depend on finding the mother’s nipple through smell. This early stimulation of olfactory organs allows them to reach adulthood with the ability to smell the equivalent of a tablespoon of coffee in 2 Olympic pools of water.

In the mid-17thcentury, monks in a hospice located in the Great Saint Bernard Pass, in the Italian Alps, used dogs in the rescue of lost mountaineers amidst snow and fog. Since then, humans have used dogs’olfactory skills in a variety of activities, from searching for people, drugs, explosives, and endangered animal species for their conservation, to the detection of significant changes in our cells, alerting us to illnesses such as type 1 diabetes or cancer.

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The Gift of Sam

I close my book, place it on the bedside table, and turn off the light, the signal for Sam, my yellow Lab, to jump up on the bed for one last goodnight snuggle.

My room is dark: I no longer have to sleep with the light on and under the covers. I no longer see dark human shadows traipsing past my window during sleep hours. My room is quiet: I no longer have to doze off with the radio softly playing background sounds. I can sleep longer and sleep more soundly: sometimes, even all night long! I wake up more refreshed in the morning. Not perfectly refreshed, but more so.

Yes, I still have nightmares. But after ten years, fewer of them, thanks to Sam.

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