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No. 120: Nov-Dec 1998

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Dog Doctors

Credentials must be established here. The writer of the two articles digested below is an M.D. and a graduate of the Harvard Medical School. This is not a hoax!

Melanoma sniffing. In 1989, the Lancet, a respected British medical journal, published an article relating how a female dog, half border collie, half doberman, sniffed out a spot of melanoma on a woman. In fact, the dog ignored all of the other moles on the woman and even tried to bite off the melanoma.

Melanoma is the most dreaded form of skin cancer, so this bizarre report stimulated A. Cognetta, an American dermotologist, to try an experiment. First, another dog, named George, was trained to find tubes containing melanoma samples, which he did correctly 99% of the time. Next, a human with active melanoma was enlisted. Several bandages were placed on the subject's body including one over the melanoma site. Once again, George was almost 100% accurate in his diagnosis. Subsequently, George successfully identified malignancies on other patients.

(Walker, Kenneth; "George the Dog Helps Take a Bite out of Skin Cancer," Chicago Sun-Times, September 6, 1998. Cr. J. Cieciel.)

Seizure sniffing. An English woman subject to epileptic seizures never goes anywhere without her dog Rupert. Rupert has a nose for the odor that precedes epileptic seizures in humans. He barks about 40 minutes before the actual seizure, giving the woman a chance to get to a safe place. Of course, Rupert barks at other things, too, but his seizure bark is noticeably different.

(Walker, Kenneth; "Mutt Gives Epileptic Advance Warning on Seizures," Chicago Sun-Times, September 13, 1998. Cr. J. Cieciel.)

Comment. Actually, several medical conditions (gout) and diseases (cholera) have odors detectable by humans.

From Science Frontiers #120, NOV-DEC 1998. 1998-2000 William R. Corliss