Meet the Rescue Dog Who Sniffed Out Her Owner’s Cancer

When Diane Hood adopted her 7-year-old Affenpinscher mix six years ago, she had no idea her new dog would save her life.

Within the first week of arriving at Hood’s home, the little dog, whom she named Teva, became obsessed with a small dark spot on Hood’s leg. Hood thought the spot was just a bug bite. But it was something much more dangerous: squamous cell carcinoma, a potentially deadly form of skin cancer.

Today, Hood is cancer-free, and Teva is a therapy dog. Together, they bring happiness to people at nursing homes.

RELATED: 9 Things That Owner’s of Rescue Dogs Know to Be True

We caught up with Hood, a retiree from Sequim, Washington, to learn more about her pup’s remarkable rescue story.

Q: Can you tell us the story of how you rescued Teva?

A: My dog, who was 17 years old, died, and I was going to get this big, calm dog to replace it, and I saw [Teva's] picture on Petfinder. She was a year old and had never had much of a home.

I almost didn’t get her. I was going to meet her and I almost had a stroke. My arteries narrowed down in my neck from stress. So I waited a month, and the one other person [the rescue] interviewed didn’t want her, so I got to have her when I met her.

Q: Do you know anything about her life before you found her?

When she was a couple of months old, she was in Ellensburg, Washington, and the people that had her put her in the pound because she was too friendly — she jumped on everybody and they didn’t want that. A rescue group took her in and ended up having her until she was a year old. I can’t think of why they kept her so long, because she was so cute.

Q: What was she like when you first brought her home?

The first week I had her, she found cancer on my leg. I had a dark spot on my leg and I thought it was a bug bite or something. There was no reason for her to sniff it. After a week of her being obsessed with [the dark spot], I went to the doctor and [found out] it was cancer. They took a chunk out of my leg. It was squamous cell carcinoma.

To this day — and I’ve had her five or six years — she’s still afraid to go to the bathroom. I think from being in that cage [in the shelter]. When I brought her home, she started running [from corner to corner] in the yard. She panicked when she was sent to go to the bathroom. She didn’t want to do it. And if she did it, she’d want to eat it right away because she was so upset with the whole thing. And I think it’s from being in a cage for that long.

Q: Have you taken her to a trainer or a behaviorist for this behavior?

I took her to dog school. She’s been to three. When I first got her, she had hardly been in a house really. She was like a 2-year-old. She was just bouncing off the walls.

The behavior person said to always praise her when she goes. And I do that. So as soon as she goes, she looks up at me like, “Can I have a cookie now?”

I have osteoporosis, and my bones are getting stronger because of Teva. She makes me walk so far because of her fear of going to the bathroom. So I actually get more exercise. She forces to me walk farther than I normally would walk.

Q: What do you love most about Teva?

Her Petfinder ad said she was a very joyful dog looking for someone to share her joy. And she is that kind of dog. She makes everybody happy. Even if you’re doing something else, she’ll find a toy and throw it in the air and hug it and play all by herself. She’s a very happy little dog. She knows words. You have to practically spell or she’ll listen to what you’re talking about. She rolls over, she shakes hands, she dances and she crawls. When I have time, I’m going to teach her more because she’s very smart. She pays attention so well.

Recently, I trained her to be a therapy dog, and she goes to nursing homes. People are so happy because I taught her how to do a little dance where she stands up and goes around in a circle.

By Laura Cross |

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Wendi M.
Wendi M2 years ago

Have MS and my 1st Dog absolutely knew before I did when I was going to have an attack my other Dog was clueless when the 1st passed (Canine Cancer) months after she passed We got a LGD was suppose to be for our little Hobby Farm but who was I kidding he was to be yet another House Pet and buddy to dog #2 well the 3rd Dog had the same sense luckily I only had 2 minor attacks but he passed at the age of 5 and now 2 years later Dog #2 is still with me he's 16 I luckily haven't stacked or at least I think I haven't but as I wrote previous this guy doesn't have the same 'sense' I don't know if it's smell or what it is but if I'm cooking something he sure smells that 😉

Renee M.
Renee M4 years ago

Great story. Thanks for sharing it.

Cheryl Mallon-Bond

Lucky doggy & lucky lady!

John Lettieri
John Lettieri4 years ago

Mans best friend, or in this case Womens best friend.Keep the Love.

Julie Dispain
Julie Dispain4 years ago

Great story!

Lisbeth Alvarado Sanchez

What a wonderful little girl. Thanks for sharing.

Graham Parker
Graham P4 years ago

Great story my faith is being restored in animals and Care 2.

John Hines
John Hines4 years ago


Maria L.
Maria L4 years ago

My partner was snoring, so I slept in a separate room. My dog ​​always slept with me, but for some time wanted to sleep in bed only with my fiance. I did not know why. My fiance joked that now my dog ​​likes him more than me. Shortly afterwards my partner was diagnosed with cancer, unfortunately he died.
Dogs have an amazing gift, instinct, which people do not have...

Sheri Schongold
Sheri Schongold4 years ago

A sweetheart. She may have her problems, but she is all business when taking care of her mother.