Dogs don’t always get the kind of treatment they deserve, and that’s too bad because dogs are awesome. They’re fun, loyal companions who love a good cuddle. They even have the power to save your life. When Lauren Gauthier from East Amherst, New York, founded the Magic’s Mission Beagle and Hound Rescue Inc., she never imagined that she would end up being the one in need of rescuing. But one pooch with a major sight disadvantage returned the woman’s kindness by using a highly enhanced ability—her sense of smell. Without it, Lauren might not be around today to tell the world her amazing story.
Meet Victoria, a one-eyed Treeing Walker Coonhound, who was waiting for a forever home at a shelter in South Carolina. Her odds of finding a human who would take her in weren’t good because she only had one eye. But then, she received a visit from a New York attorney named Lauren Gauthier, and suddenly, her outlook went from grim to hopeful.
Aside from practicing law, Lauren is also the founder of Magic’s Mission Beagle and Hound Rescue Inc. The mission is responsible for rescuing and rehoming hunting dogs that have been abandoned. One day, she decided to visit a series of shelters in South Carolina. That’s when she met Victoria, and it was love at first sight.
When Lauren saw Victoria, she knew she wanted her, so she decided to become her foster mommy. And they were a perfect match! Victoria needed love and Lauren had plenty of love to give. But then life threw the New York attorney a curve ball.
The two of them bonded at home for three months, but then Lauren noticed a growth on her nose. Ironically, Lauren wasn’t the only one aware of the bump. Victoria noticed it too. So, whenever Lauren sat on the couch, Victoria would cuddle next to her and start sniffing the growth on her nose. Then she’d just sit there and stare at her intensely.
Lauren initially assumed that the bump was either a clogged pore or a pimple, and then it went away. But even though the spot was gone, Victoria continued obsessing over Lauren’s nose. She didn’t think anything was wrong at first, but then she got worried. There must have been a reason why Victoria kept sticking her wet nose in her face. So, she got herself checked out.
She was determined to figure out why Victoria was being so darn persistent over an area on her nose. So, Lauren went to the doctor, and she discovered she had a type of skin cancer called basal cell carcinoma. Thankfully, she caught it in the early stages, and her doctor was able to remove it. But she might not have even known it was there if it hadn’t been for Victoria.
Victoria’s persistence had saved Lauren’s life and it was all thanks to her incredible sense of smell. Dogs have more scent receptors than humans, so they can pick up things that human noses can’t. Somehow, she smelled the skin cancer on Lauren’s nose and knew that her beloved owner was in trouble.
If Victoria hadn’t alerted her to the danger she was in, Lauren would have ignored the growth until it was too late. If that happened, then Lauren might have undergone a more invasive surgery down the line that could have led to severe disfigurement.
According to Lauren, Victoria can sense when she’s stressed out or upset. The two of them have a powerful bond. Now, she can rest assured that if those horrible cancer cells try to rear their ugly heads again, Victoria will be at her side to give her a heads up.
Studies indicate that dogs may be able to detect certain odors emitted by various forms of cancer. However, scientists are still on the fence as to whether they can 100% accurately sense cancer in humans. But Lauren has all the proof she needs. Without Victoria, her life would be very different now.
In 2001, the Lancet Medical Journal reported findings that dogs can indeed detect cancer in people. In one instance, a patient had a mole on her leg diagnosed as malignant melanoma thanks to her dog’s incessant sniffing. Another patient thought he had eczema until his Labrador sniffed through his pants and warned him, he had basal cell carcinoma.