Cancer Sniffing DogsPosted: August 14, 2013
I love dogs, but I don’t actually have one of my own. It is an issue of space for me. I’d want my dog to have room to go do the things that dogs do in their free time.
Also, I don’t want to pick up poop.
Looking A Gift Dog In The Mouth
Dogs are great, not just because of their loyalty, but because of their eagerness and versatility. They can be trained to do so much. Dogs work to keep us safe and detect smugglers at airports. They assist the blind. Companion dogs improve the lifespan of the elderly. I knew a dog who assisted a war veteran in managing the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress.
You don’t see that sort of thing from a parrot.
The work that canines do is expanding. I read that dogs are learning to sniff out and detect ovarian cancer. That is very cool; I dislike cancer more than I like dogs. As cool as it is that dogs can help us in that way, I’ve decided that I do not want a cancer smelling dog.
Obviously, I am not going to get a dog and give him this very specialized training. So the only way I’d end up with one is if I adopted an older cancer smelling dog who was ready for retirement.
Having a dog who could smell cancer would not be a relaxing experience. The day I picked up my new, old dog I would start feeling frustrated. One day, I’d be a no dog guy. The next, I’d have a dog. People would have questions. I’d have a great story of how I adopted this heroic dog as my companion. It would be the greatest story I could never tell.
The greatest story I could never tell doesn’t reflect the true problem. If I adopted a retired cancer sniffing dog, I’d remain capable of telling you the story. If I told you the story, you’d like it. Later (maybe a week, perhaps a year) knowing the story of my dog would bother you.
Sit, Jerry, Sit. On Second Thought, Stand.
Many working dogs signal when they’ve found what they’re looking for by sitting down. Looking for drugs? The dog sits down next to the package with the dope. Looking for a bomb? Sit. Cancer? Sit.
Sitting is a problem. The sitting down signal would be the reason my dog’s heroic earlier life would stay a secret.
Suppose my dog (let’s call him Jerry) and I went out for some exercise. As we got back home, our neighbor Bert might be getting his mail. Bert and I would catch up on neighborhood events. Jerry, tired from a three-mile walk, might sit down. Bert would be on edge for the rest of our conversation. He’s not going to factor in that the poor dog is only tired. All he’d process is that “the cancer dog” sat down.
I’d teach Jerry to chase and catch a Frisbee. He’d deserve a little fun after his years of diagnosing people. But even a game of Frisbee with my cancer detecting dog would have potentially difficult implications.
We’d have a grand time; Jerry would retrieve my Frisbee over and over. Then I’d accidentally over throw him. The disc would land near a woman reading a book under a tree. Jerry would run over, look at the Frisbee, then at the woman. He’d turn, face me and sit down. I’d shake my head no, but he’d give me the sad “I’m sorry” head nod.
Is there etiquette for a situation like that? Going up to a stranger and suggesting she get a physical is out. Walking away and acting like Jerry didn’t just sit down and give me the bad news is against the ethics of good pet ownership.
Responsible Pet Ownership
Adopting and rescuing pets is a great thing to do. If I ever do get a dog, it will be a rescue.
But I am not cut out for cancer dog rescue. Perhaps you are.
If you are, please remember to spay or neuter. And tell people your dog is in the witness protection program.