A dog has become her owner's best friend by detecting cancer and saving her life.
Paula Bockman-Chato, of Kellyville, Australia, had first believed that the constant sniffing and nuzzling under her arm by her beloved saluki Kaspar was just the dog being affectionate.
But that was until a medical check revealed early signs of lymph node cancer in the very spot that had attracted Kaspar's attention.
While Bockman-Chato's story is remarkable, it is not uncommon. Scientific research has now confirmed what was long anecdotally believed -- dogs are highly successful in sniffing out cancer in humans, thanks to their incredible sense of smell.
She was cleared by her doctors after her diagnosis late last year, and Bockman-Chato said she would not have been aware of the disease if it wasn't for Kaspar.
"He kept putting his nose in my armpit and sometimes he'd put his paw in there as well," Bockman-Chato said. "I was totally unaware there was a problem until he kept focusing on that spot."
Australian National Kennel Council vet Dr. Peter Higgins said it was time doctors used this remarkable ability by having dogs in their surgeries as early cancer detectors.
"It would not replace diagnostic tests but it would be a good early and non-invasive way of finding if something is there," he said.
Higgins said some of his clients were alerted about emerging skin cancer when their pet dog started consistently licking the cancerous spot on their arm or leg.
"They went to their doctor and found they had a skin cancer developing," he said.