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Bow-wow... you are ill, ma?am

india Updated: Jan 24, 2007 11:21 IST

Next time your pet dog sniffs around you persistently, do not ignore it as another friendly doggy expression or an urgent demand to be petted. It could well be an early warning sign of a disease, including cancer.

British housewife Gill Lacey was perplexed when her dog Trudy kept sniffing at her heels and legs for weeks together. After being initially dismissive, she went for a medical checkup on a hunch, only to discover that she had early signs of cancer, which was treated at once.

Citing that example in her film When Animals Talk, world-renowned primatologist Jane Goodall, the woman who demystified chimpanzees by living with them in the African jungles, claims that pets are great indicators of everything about us — feelings, mood swings, personal crisis and even illness.

“In Lacey’s case, her dog, with its keen sense of smell, was able to sniff the signature molecules typical of cancer. Subsequent experiments proved that dogs were able to clearly pick out cancer tissue samples with 95 per cent accuracy.

In one case a sample missed out by a blood test was picked out by the sniffing dog and the person was found to be having kidney cancer,” said Goodall during a media interaction after the film’s screening as part of the Wildscreen Festival.

Goodall said she was amazed when rats, trained to sniff out landmines in Mozambique, were later taught to smell early signs of tuberculosis.