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June 20, 2010

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Fred Wickham

That's fascinating stuff. A question (and I'm not being facetious), but can dogs be trained to detect diseases in other dogs? Or, what if a dog can detect a disease and then comes down with the same disease. Would he go crazy?

Susan McCarthy

Sure, dogs could be trained to detect diseases in other dogs. They probably detect some already. (Useful to know what shape your friends and rivals are in....)

Sometimes dogs that haven't been trained at all detect disease. In one famous -- but not unique case -- a family dog got so obsessed with a mole on a young woman's leg that after a few months she went to the doctor, who wasn't impressed but did a biopsy anyway. It turned out to be a malignant melanoma, very unusual in someone in their 20s. They took out a big chunk of that leg and saved her life. The dog was a Dalmatian, not a famed scent breed.

I don't think a dog that detected disease in itself would go crazy. Doctors who know they're sick don't act any crazier than other sick people, as far as I've heard.

Although, I once knew a bloodhound with a habit of licking his legs. Although he had a large ranch to rove, he spent hours sorrowfully licking his front legs. He had a "lick granuloma" on each one. So perhaps that was crazy: he'd licked until he had sores and now he obsessively licked the sores. Let's just say neurotic.

Reva

I will no longer mindlessly recycle Parade!

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