You may have heard about the research, still in its early stages, about dogs’ ability to sniff out cancer in people. Pretty remarkable. Talk about being human’s best friend – what a solid to save someone’s life!

A dog may have saved my life when I had cancer, at least in a way. The backstory:

Before my cancer surgery, I yearned to be able to practice visualization, knowing of its ability to both strengthen the immune system and reduce stress and anxiety. But I had the hardest time. While others imagined little PacMen ferreting out and eating stealthy cancer cells, heat-seeking missiles tracking down tumors and pounding them, or even Robin Hood-clad warriors with bows and arrows shooting down the errant cells, I couldn’t conjure anything violent. A peace-lover, I knew there had to be a more compassionate way to lick the disease.

There was, and I found it, in a different kind of licking - the licking that my Jack Russell Terrier mix, Bean, engages in as part of his genetic makeup. Jack Russells apparently love to lick – human legs, when they come out of the shower; bare feet (the smellier the better); and any age or size human face. (Of course, this is assuming such behavior is allowed, which in our home, it is.)

When I had cancer, I went outside each morning at the break of day to meditate. I would first practice conventional meditation for about 20 minutes, then try to practice some sort of peaceful anti-cancer visualization.

One day the image came to me and I almost jumped out of the wooden chair on my deck. In my mind's eye I saw Bean licking the inside of my feet – or rather, he was shrunk down to the size of a mouse and was literally on the inside of my feet, licking up any remaining cancer cells. He moved up into my ankles, calves, thighs, and then into my abdomen and chest. Then he crept down my left arm to my forearm and hand, back up again, across my chest and over to my right arm, where he did the same thing. Then up into my head, licking the inside of my brain.

He loved licking up those cancer cells. And they didn’t hurt him at all; I told myself that his digestive juices destroyed them on contact.

I credit Bean for helping to save my life when I had cancer not only because he slurped up the cells with his warm little tongue, but because stayed in bed with me for weeks as I recovered from major surgery, setting his chin upon my chest while I lied flat on my back. He also gave me incentive to get up and go, literally, for a walk with him in the hot August air.

I’m not sure Bean knows that he helped heal me, and it doesn’t matter a bit. I have rewarded him with more love than I thought was possible for one person to feel for a dog. He is truly my best friend as well as my savior.

Lori Hope
Producer • Author • Editor

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