A dog with a bow tilts head at the viewer

Man (and Woman’s) Best Friend

Last updated: January 2020

I read an article recently about how dogs can sniff out cancer, particularly lung cancer. According to this study, two beagles were able to identify non-small cell lung cancer in blood samples with 97% accuracy. Beagles were chosen for the study because of their “superior olfactory receptor genes,” meaning that they have a great sense of smell.1

Dogs are an important part of my life

Interesting? Yes, definitely. Scientifically valid? I’m not sure, but certainly, a lot more research would need to be done before cancer-sniffing-dogs could become a part of lung cancer early detection.

Regardless of their ability to detect cancer by scent, I believe that dogs are still a very important part of living with lung cancer. There’s nothing quite like being welcomed home by a sweet furry friend to make even the worst days seem just a little bit better.

Bringing Missy home

A little over a year ago, my family adopted a 5-year old, 10-pound Shih-Tzu named Missy. We did not plan to adopt Missy, but my mother-in-law passed away and Missy was her pet. Both of my sisters-in-law already had much larger dogs and couldn’t take Missy, so soon after my mother-in-law’s funeral in Savannah, Georgia, Missy flew home with my husband to her new life in the Chicago suburbs.

Woman and her small dogInitially, I wasn’t completely pleased about adding a new family member. My husband and I had owned a dog early on in our marriage and I knew what a large responsibility it would be. Although both of my teenage boys were thrilled at the idea of Missy coming to live with us, I guessed (and was right!) that they wouldn’t be huge helps with her daily needs of food, walks, etc. Being the one who is home during the day, I knew that the majority of the responsibility would end up being mine.

Missy is always there for me

It only took a couple of days, though, before Missy won my heart. I have found that the advantages of having a warm snuggle-buddy have outweighed the additional tasks needed. She always seems to know when I need some cheering up and reacts to that with special licks and snuggles.

I enjoy taking care of her because it’s nice to have someone who really needs me -- my teenage boys are less and less needy every year, as it should be! It’s also fun to have another female in my male household; Missy lets me brush her hair and put it in a topknot every day. She’s a huge stress reliever!

Missy may not be sniffing out cancer, but she has added to my quality of life in innumerable ways. What a cutie!

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