We've always know that dogs have a great sense of smell. For years, dogs have been using their sharp senses to help police, firefighters and other rescue workers do their jobs. And now researchers from Canada have found one more way dogs can use their sniffers for a good cause.
CancerDogs, a company from Quebec founded by Glenn Ferguson, uses 6 specially trained dogs to smell cancer on breath samples from fire fighters.
The technique is still new, but Ferguson hopes his simple and painless test will help save lots of lives.
To get tested, all the firefighters have to do is breathe into a surgical mask for 20 minutes, fill in their basic medical information, and pay $20. These masks get shipped back to the lab in Quebec, Canada where the dogs sniff the samples.
When they detect cancer, they're even trained to lift up their paw to signal they've found something. If that happens, the firefighters are sent to a doctor for more tests.
There's still lots of research to be done, but more than 50 fire departments across the US use the CancerDogs, and Ferguson claims they have a 95% success rate.
"If there comes a day when there's a machine that does a better job than what the dogs are capable of doing," says Ferguson, "we think that's wonderful."
"But until that day comes, we should not be so close-minded."