Show dog detects his owner’s cancer

Troy is one of the top purebred Doberman Pinschers in the U.S. — maybe even the world. In fact, he could be a top contender when he heads to the 138th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show next week to compete for that coveted “Best in Show” title.

Troy (above) is ready for Westminster; scientists claim a dog can detect breast and lung cancer in humans by smelling their breath.

But Troy isn’t known just for his impeccable looks; the dapper Dobe is also a bona fide hero to his owners, Diane and Harry Papazian.

Three years ago, when Troy was just a 4-month-old puppy, he and Diane were cuddling at their Staten Island, New York home when Troy started to behave strangely, nuzzling and prodding Diane’s chest persistently. When Diane and Harry couldn’t get Troy to back off, Diane knew somehow that something was very wrong. That same day, after a quick self-examination, Diane discovered a lump in her breast. A visit to the doctor confirmed her fears and Troy’s diagnosis — Diane had breast cancer.

Diane’s treatment began immediately. After a double mastectomy and rounds of chemotherapy, Diane was declared cancer-free. Diane and her husband couldn’t be more grateful to Troy for using his nose to save Diane’s life.

Troy isn’t the first dog out there to sniff out his or her owner’s cancer. In March 2013, DogTime.com told you about Labrador Retriever and Medical Alert Dog with the U.K.-based organization Medical Detection Dogs, Daisy, who followed her nose and found her owner’s cancer. And back in 2009, Collie mix Max saved his owner’s life when he found a tumor in her breast.

It turns out that dogs are pretty good at detecting cancer. Scientists claim dogs can smell breast and lung cancer just by smelling a person’s breath. And at facilities like the Penn Vet Working Dog Center in West Philadelphia, experts like Dr. Cindy Otto and her staff train dogs to better hone their cancer-sniffing skills. The Center’s cancer detection dogs work in a laboratory there screening a variety of samples for ovarian cancer. Dr. Otto hopes that by working with these dogs, a new and inexpensive way to screen for ovarian cancer will save women’s lives.

“Our goal is not to have the dog smelling the hundreds of samples, because that would be very expensive and we wouldn’t be able to do the number of samples,” Dr. Otto tells Newsworks. “Our goal is to have the dogs help to design a very efficient and very sensitive laboratory-based test with machines running it.”

Meanwhile, back in New York, Troy and his family are gearing up for next week’s competition. But regardless of what happens at Westminster, Diane and Harry say they couldn’t be prouder that Troy is a part of their family.

“Who knows what our lives would have been like if we didn’t have him,” Harry tells the New York Daily News of Troy. “It could have been disastrous. We are just very thankful for having him in our lives.”

For the chance to catch hero dog Troy circle the competition ring at this year’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, tune in to CNBC Monday, February 10 from 8 to 11 p.m. ET and to USA Tuesday, February 11 from 8 to 11 p.m. ET.

Sources: New York Daily News, Newsworks