Dogs watch us all the time in the way that no other animal does.
He senses whenever we're going to go out. He knows before we even make a move.
They read our body language and that's how they know we're going to take them for a walk before we think we've made the decision ourselves. It's this constant observation that can sometimes appear to give them a sixth sense.
Max is a red collie cross, normally full of energy and enthusiasm. But in 2008, his owner, Maureen Burns, noticed that something was wrong.
I thought at the time Max was fading. He was nine and a half. And I was preparing myself for losing him because of... He just wasn't happy, wouldn't come with me, wouldn't sit by me, wouldn't sit on my lap. And the odd signs—he would come up and touch my breast with his nose, and back off so desperately unhappy with a such sad look in his eyes.
Maureen had a small lump in her breast, but her latest mammogram was clear, so she presumed all was okay.
Initially I thought it was just another lumpy breast as people get. But then I sort of connected it with the dog, with his odd behavior. And one day, I was looking in the mirror in the bedroom here, and I looked across, in the mirror, at Max's eyes. He was on the bed as he is now. And I knew it was cancer.
Maureen went to her local hospital, but both the scan and the mammogram came back negative. It took a surgical biopsy to finally detect the cancer. Maureen had it removed, and the change in Max's behavior was instant.
That day I was picked up from the hospital. He was his old hyper self again. He put his nose across my breast to check where the operation had been. And he was wagging his tongue, his eyes were happy, and it was unbelievable, the change in him, instant.
I love Max so much and I owe him so much. And even before I go for a checkup now, I get him to check me out. And if he's happy and wagging his tail, I am happy and I know I'm okay.
We now know that dogs like Max are smelling the tiny volatile chemicals given off by cancerous tumors. Most dogs can do this. They just don't know that we're interested.
But with a little training, dogs can accurately pick out the cancerous patient from a selection of urine samples.
They can even be taught to let diabetics like Steven know that his blood sugar levels are smelling low long before he can feel it, and definitely before he passes out.
Dogs like Steven's are now transforming lives all over the country. They have been trained to detect the early warning signals for severe allergic reactions, epileptic fits, and narcolepsy.