Some of the most common myths about dogs are explored.
Maureen has a very special relationship with her collie Max. “He’s changed my life,” she gushes. Two years ago, the once affectionate Max began to keep his distance from his owner. “He just wasn’t happy near me,” Maureen says. The dog would sniff her breath, then touch her breasts. “I instantly knew something was wrong,” Maureen confides. Convinced that she had a disease, Maureen went to a doctor and managed to catch her early-stage breast cancer.
It has long been known that certain breeds of do can sniff out cancer in humans. The Cancer and Biodetection Dogs charity has proven conclusively that dogs can smell bladder cancer in the sufferers' urine. As dogs have a sense of smell thousands of times stronger than humans, the charity hopes to use the animals for early detection and treatment, possibly saving thousands of lives.
In Texas, the black Labrador Nepal has brought hope into the life of former soldier Jason. Whilst on a mission in South America, Jason was paralysed in an ambush attack. Although initially depressed about his condition, he now counts his blessings. “I’m just lucky to be alive,” Jason says. “Tough days are now so much easier with Nepal around,” he adds.
Labradors are said to be amongst the best breeds for helper dogs, as they are intelligent, affectionate and eager to please. The dogs are trained for two years before allocation, and have learned over 40 distinct commands. To help Jason, Nepal can open doors, retrieve food and pick items off the ground. This not only increases Jason’s independence, but provides him with a strong sense of companionship. “He improves my spirits so much –who could ask for more?” Jason asks.
Belgian epilepsy sufferer Christine has lived with her condition for more than 20 years. Her Labrador Maybe acts as a life-saving early warning system for her ailment. When Christine is having a seizure outside her home, Maybe has been trained to get help and alert passersby. When Christine suffers an attack inside her home, the dog can run to the desk in her owner’s office and retrieve a telephone and medical bag.
Amazingly, Maybe can also alert Christine to the fact that she is about to have a seizure by repeatedly licking her wrists. This help has meant that Christine now has a sense of independence that she did not have before, and can go on long walks by herself without fear. The calming effect that Maybe has had on her life has soothed Christine and reduced the number of epileptic episodes she has. “I can’t start to say how much she’s changed my life,” Christine says.