Karen Belz
Updated Aug 03, 2016 @ 11:47 am
Credit: theshando/Instagram

Dogs are fascinating creatures — Shannen Doherty knows this firsthand. As reported earlier, Doherty has had a pretty tough year. Originally diagnosed with breast cancer, she learned recently that the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes, and there’s a real fear that it might spread elsewhere soon. She’s planning on a strict chemo and radiation schedule, and of course, hopes for the best. But, her diagnosis wasn’t originally discovered by fancy machinery. In fact, it was discovered by her dog, Bowie.

“She would obsessively sniff right here on my right side for a long time before,” Doherty said to Entertainment Tonight. “So, it made sense when I got diagnosed.”

Doherty got her official diagnosis in February of 2015, and noticed that her pup had become extra sensitive after she had her first mastectomy. Once again, Bowie was into sniffing her right side. When chemo started, Doherty’s dog reacted even more severely.

“… When I had my first chemo, she would sniff my entire body up and down. And she was always protective before, but she has become this crazy, protective dog. It’s hard to get close to me when she’s around,” Doherty commented.

It makes sense. Most dogs have between 125 to 300 million olfactory receptors in their nose, which means they can pick up smells from incredibly far away, as well as smells we can’t even dream of picking up ourselves. Their brains are also focused on analyzing these smells — about 40% of their brain is dedicated solely to figuring out the world through scents they pick up. And it’s been proven that a lot of dogs can, in fact, sniff out cancer.

It’s sweet that Doherty knows that through thick and thin, during this incredible fight, she’ll always have Bowie by her side.