It goes without saying that there are some highly intelligent creatures on this planet. Primates use tools to perform daily activities and crows can solve complex puzzles. But have you ever considered how intelligent certain breeds of dogs are? Keep reading to discover how this Siberian husky used its fantastic senses to save her owner’s life.
52-year-old Stephanie Herfel has definitely lived a life worth talking about.
Not only has she made a living as a grant writer, but she also served the United States Marine Corps in the 80s. But even though she knew how important it was for her son to follow his path, she couldn’t help but feel sad when he announced that he was being deployed with the United States Air Force.
As much as he was looking forward to serving his country, Stephanie’s son was also worried about leaving her alone while he was away.
So, he did what any good son would do: he planned a surprise for her. One morning, he walked into his mother’s house in California, with his surprise in his arms. Before she knew what was happening, Stephanie was gifted something that would change her life for the better.
Stephanie’s son had given her the most adorable gift in the entire world, a Siberian husky puppy!
The husky was named Sierra and she was only nine months old. Stephanie and Sierra immediately became best friends, and when it was time for Stephanie and her husband to move to another state, Sierra was right there by their side. Soon enough, they would realize that having Sierra in their lives was the best thing that happened to them.
It was 2013 and Stephanie had been experiencing a lot of pain in her lower abdomen.
The pain wasn’t going away, so she went to the emergency room to have it checked out. The emergency room doctors explained that Stephanie had an ovarian cyst, and they sent her home with some narcotic pain medication. Unfortunately, things only got worse from there.
It wasn’t long before Sierra started behaving rather strangely.
“She put her nose on my lower belly and sniffed so intently that I thought I spilled something on my clothes. She did it a second and then a third time. After the third time, Sierra went and hid. I mean hid!” explained Stephanie. As it would turn out, Sierra was making a medical diagnosis of her very own.
Stephanie knew better than to ignore Sierra’s messages, so she decided to seek a second opinion about her condition.
“To see her become so afraid was spooky in its own right. So I made an appointment with a gynecologist and in a matter of weeks and some blood work with an ultrasound, on 11-11-13 I was sitting in the gynecology oncologist room in shock that I had cancer,” said Stephanie.
Unfortunately, Sierra was right on the nose about what was going on in Stephanie’s body.
Stephanie was diagnosed with stage 3C ovarian cancer, which is a life-threatening diagnosis. Stephanie was immediately given a hysterectomy and she had her spleen removed, as well. Then, in April of 2014, she started chemotherapy.
Sierra has not only found cancer in Stephanie one time, but three times. She’s also identified it another people!
Sierra behaved that way when a family friend with a known case of cancer spent some time at Stephanie’s house. She also reacted that way when a new worker showed up to work on Stephanie’s kitchen remodel. Knowing Sierra typically acted that way, Stephanie and her husband called the worker’s boss to explain to them what Sierra had indicated.
Even though Stephanie is now cancer-free, Sierra is still extremely protective of her mom.
Sierra still becomes anxious when Stephanie has to attend her regular appointments at the cancer center, so Stephanie has learned to change her clothes so Sierra can’t smell the hospital. And despite the fact the Sierra always tries to stay between Stephanie and the front door, she still loves playing with her tennis balls, taking walks, and going for car rides.
Stephanie has had to fight off cancer three times, but it certainly hasn’t dampened her spirit and she’s unbelievably grateful for Sierra’s good sense of smell.
“I owe my life to that dog. She’s really been a godsend to me. She has never been wrong,” said Stephanie. “There are things that are coming out new every day. That’s how I live my life. I’m going to do the best thing I can do at the time until the next best thing comes along.”
While there’s no denying that Sierra is an exceptional canine, she’s definitely not the only dog to have discovered cancer in humans before.
David Kushner, Stephanie’s primary oncologist, told Stephanie that Sierra’s skills aren’t just a lucky guess. “There have been other dogs of various breeds with this extraordinary skill, and their accuracy rate is 98% and applies to a number of cancer types.
Despite her challenges, Stephanie believes that she’ll outlive Sierra.
She even wants to write a book about their incredible journey together! “I just feel like my story can let people think about their animals and think, ‘Wow, my animal did this when I got diagnosed.’ Just to give the animals credit that they are pretty smart,” she explained.