Remarkable story of pet pooch detecting owner’s cancer.
When Peta Malart’s beloved German Shepherd started acting anxious, pacing, never leaving her side and even sitting in the bathroom while she showered – Peta knew something was up.
As it turns out, her adoring pooch Shiraz knew Peta’s cancer had returned.
“She’s literally made the difference for me, with this diagnosis,” a grateful Peta said.
“I’ve had a reoccurring cancer since 2016 but my last tests in August (2020) came back all clear, so I wasn’t meant to be tested again for six months.
“It was only because of Shiraz’s behaviour – that I’d noticed was the same as the previous times I had a tumour – that I pushed to get tested again only three months after the August one. And it showed she was right, the tumour had reappeared.
“It had obviously spread quite quickly too in that time (since August), so the way I see it, is I’ve now got a three-month head start on treatment. And it’s all because of her.”
Peta has a rare abdominal cancer known as Pseudomyxoma Peritonei. Her treatment has involved extensive surgeries to remove her ovaries, uterus and spleen to get rid of the tumours; followed by heated chemotherapy given directly into the peritoneal cavity in a procedure that can take up to 10 hours.
Her surgeon Professor Peter Hewett, Head of Colorectal Surgery at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, said Peta was lucky to have such a faithful pet – and to act on the signs.
“Peta had blood tests in August which were all normal, so when she asked for more tests in October because ‘her dog told her’, you’re not sure what to make of it,” Prof Hewett recalled.
“But of course you do the tests and it turns out she was right. It’s a great story to share.
“It is well-documented that dogs can detect cancer and other diseases. It is thought that dogs’ increased sense of smell pick up on changes that are happening within the body when cancer cells are present.
“Dogs are also being trained to detect COVID-19 overseas and have also proven to predict epileptic seizures and other conditions, so they’re very clever.”
Peta wanted to share her story to give credit to her lifesaving pet, and to thank her husband and family for being there for her throughout her health challenges.
“I would rather this happen to me than to anyone else in my family, but I feel really bad for my husband who worries about me so much,” Peta said.
“I’m a little nervous about what’s to come now because I’m running out of organs for them to remove.
“But I’m just so grateful to Shiraz, I don’t know what I’d do with her.”