We have been debating this issue of animals being able to smell or sense when a person has cancer, sick or is dying. I know there is the special animal that can detect cancer in a person and yes they are training them to detect the cancer cells. That means the animal, usually a dog, is being trained to detect a certain smell. We train them to smell drugs and dead people so why not cancer cells.
I can tell you with certainty that cancer has an odor. Both of my parents died of lung cancer, my uncle has cancer at this time, my friend had breast cancer and my husband had skin cancer. They each had an odor to them. If you have ever walked into the hospital room when someone is dying of cancer you will know the smell I am talking about. It is something you never get over. Now the odor in the dying was stronger than the ones living with disease and under treatment. When under treatment the odor changed in the persons I was around.
It could be the same as infection. If a person has an infection and you get close enough to the area it has an odor.
Now do dogs smell cancer cells. The answer is most certainly yes. It is however the special dog that smells it and detects it in some way without any training. Oscar is special in the sense that he does his act of kindness or warning on his own without having been trained to do so.
As a dog trainer for many years I can tell you that a dog can be trained to do most anything and if you put scent into the picture then he can accomplish a lot of amazing tasks.
Search and rescue, drug enforcement, cadaver dogs, seeing eye dogs, companion pets who help those with panic attacks and diabetes, just to mention a few, are dogs that perform amazing things after training. Now would they have done that on their own? I don’t know and I don’t think that we can answer that question after the fact.
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What we should focus on is perhaps training more dogs and getting the general public to accept them into our society and put them to use. Early detection of disease will save many lives in the future and who better to have by our side doing this task then the wonderful fluffy friend of us all, our pets.