This is a little news flash that I saw on thirdage.com and it got me thinking:
We all know about the sensitivity of dogs to imminent hurricanes and tornadoes. Now it turns out that dogs can detect early and late stage cancer by sniffing a patient’s breath. As it turns out, tumors have a very faint smell that dogs’ sensitive noses can pick up. Researchers in Germany trained five ordinary household dogs to recognize the odor of tumors in both early- and late-stage lung cancer patients. The dogs had a 71 percent accuracy rate in detecting tumors, and a 99 percent accuracy rate in smelling study subjects who didn’t have tumors. Finding early tumors can pave the way for more accurate treatment. The American Cancer society has been cautious but not dismissive about the findings, with its chief medical officer, Dr. Leonard Lichtenfeld, saying, “I learned a long time ago never to say never. And when it comes to detecting cancer early by a smell test, well….stranger things have happened.”
Fascinating, wouldn’t you say? I’m leaning toward believing that it’s true because:
- I love stuff like this
- I love my dogs
- I love knowing obscure trivia
- I love being quirky
So, I’m all in. And, although my backup is not at all scientific – just observational, I concur that dogs can sense when something is physically off …by the taste of head gravy.
If you are not in the science and research field as deeply as I, you probably aren’t aware of head gravy because it is a term I coined to describe any moisture, sweat or residue left on a pillowcase after a night’s sleep. Thus far, the study of head gravy has been limited to my bedroom, predominantly on Steven’s side of the bed. However, I believe the patterns I’ve witnessed are astounding.
We got Missy, the original Chicky-Monkey cocker spaniel, before Steven and I were married. I remember having a dog bed for her in my townhouse. I remember Steven taking her home with him several times when she was a puppy, so I could get some sleep. And after that it all becomes fuzzy. Steven and I were married, he moved into the townhouse, the dog bed went away and Missy slept with us…not necessarily in that order.
Then we moved into the house, and we got Zack. When he was being house trained, he was gated in our bathroom at night, while Missy tormented him from our bed. He had separation anxiety and would wake up in the middle of the night whimpering. I would get up, lay on the carpet by the bathroom door, stick my fingers through the gate and let him nibble on my fingertips until he fell asleep. One morning Steven awakened to find me asleep on the floor, so torqued out of shape that I couldn’t move, and Zack looking guilty like, “Don’t blame me, Dad. It wasn’t my fault!” After that, Zacky Boy got upgraded to the bed, too.
We had them for years with no incident until suddenly they both started this maddening habit in the morning of licking Steven’s pillow. It’s not a loud noise, or even a slurping noise, but it is so annoying. (Go ahead, try it, lick you pillow) It would go on until I finally either yelled (which might or might NOT work) or pushed the licker off the bed.
Here’s the science. They never did it to my pillow. So then I started trying to figure it out. I used Steven’s hair gel…no licking. I used Steven’s shampoo…no licking. I wore his baseball cap…no licking. What was so great about his head gravy? It was the same dilemma that Madame Curie faced, I’m sure.
Missy and Zack continued the head gravy licking on and off throughout their lives, but all my charts and graphs still had me barking up the wrong tree. Cut to the present. Missy and Zack are now peeing on God’s azaleas, and we have Maritza and Zoey. They have never been pillow lickers, until recently. Within the last few months, the have slowly started on Steven’s pillow. What the hell?
And then just like Sir Isaac Newton and the falling apple, Shazam! I’ve got it! It’s got to be the fabulous flavor of Lymphoma Head Gravy. That’s the only constant in this equation of licking. And I’ve figured it out.
Yipee, Skippy…I just know I’m going get the Nobel prize, and then I’m going to become a millionaire off a dog biscuit company…if I can figure out what lymphoma tastes like…to dogs. Wanna bet it tastes like chicken?