Shannen Doherty’s dog smelled cancer before her diagnosis, got very protective

Yesterday we reported on part one of Shannen Doherty’s interview with Entertainment Tonight, in which she revealed that her breast cancer had spread to her lymph nodes and possibly beyond (she was not certain about the extent of it but said that some was protruding from the lymph nodes which were removed). Shannen said that she did not want to know what stage cancer she had because she would follow her doctors’ orders regardless. She is currently undergoing chemotherapy, which has made her very sick, and will next get radiation. She also said that she did not have the breast cancer gene, and that she felt a lump some time before she was able to get to the doctor because she did not have health insurance. (Shannen is currently suing her former manager for failing to pay her health insurance premiums, among other things, which lead to a delay in her diagnosis.) Before Shannen knew that she had cancer, her dog seemed to know. In part two of Shannen’s interview, she talked about her sweet dog, a German Shepard named Bowie, who would sniff her right on the side were cancer was ultimately found. Shannen also said that her husband has been incredibly supportive.

On her dog, Bowie, smelling her cancer
She would obsessively sniff right here on my right side for a long time before. So, it made sense when I got diagnosed. When I got back from surgery, [Bowie] again was kind of right in this area,” Doherty says, gesturing towards her right side. Then 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.

On cancer making her marriage stronger
My marriage was always strong, but it’s made my marriage a thousand times stronger. He’s never missed a chemo. He’s never missed a sick day.

How her husband reacted when he learned she had cancer
[He] hugged me and said, ‘We are going to get through this. You are going to be OK. We are going to get through this, you’re strong and you’re powerful and you’re not going anywhere. You have so much to do in your life. We are going to get through it as a family.’

Her mom is by her side too
She is so strong, and my mom is like a Steel Magnolia. She is a Southern girl and she puts on this very strong face with me. She is constantly looking stuff up and, you know, she will force-feed me Gatorade chips. Her and my husband tag team.

[From two articles on Entertainment Tonight]

Shannen lost her father to a stroke in 2010 and she said she thinks about him constantly. She also expressed a desire to have have children and said she may adopt after her treatment. As for how she’s coping emotionally, she went through a period when she was focused on her own mortality, but now feels embraced by the cancer community. “You realize how many people in the world are going through the same struggle as you and that you have such a larger family than you thought.

As for her dog smelling her cancer, numerous studies have shown that dogs can detect all kinds of cancer in humans, and they can also be trained to detect diabetic emergencies, epileptic seizures before they happen and even urinary tract infections. That’s amazing.

Here’s Shannen’s dog, Bowie. Shannen told ET that she’s named after David Bowie. Look at this beautiful dog.

A photo posted by ShannenDoherty (@theshando) on

Good night. Sweet dreams and God bless from me and Miss Bowie

A photo posted by ShannenDoherty (@theshando) on



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35 Responses to “Shannen Doherty’s dog smelled cancer before her diagnosis, got very protective”

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  1. Maya says:

    Stay strong and get well soon.

  2. Ainsley says:

    That sucks. Cancer’s a bitch. 😡

  3. Jegede says:

    I’ve heard about this.

    Dogs are just on another level. Love them

    Yes, yes, all animals are equal. But still “some animals are more equal than others”. (True George)

    • PunkyMomma says:

      This has happened in my family. Dogs (and cats, as well) sense illnesses in us.

    • isabelle says:

      Can’t remember where I read it but there are dogs trained in some countries to specifically sniff out cancer. Its pretty amazing if you think about it.

    • vavavoom says:

      5 years ago, my Miniature schnauzer knew I was pregnant before I did and i took that test as soon as I missed a period. She was trying to lie on my belly and wouldn’t leave my side. She’s anti social normally and if you call her to come, she runs the opposite direction, so I knew something was up. LOL

    • Rayya Kirt says:

      Animals are unbelievably instinctive. My grandfather’s dog would not leave my grandfather’s side when he was sick but still not showing signs. He was not the same dog. Days before my grandfather passed, from what I was told, Toby ran away. My family believes he went somewhere to die of a broken heart. The relationship between animals and people can be the most incredible unconditionally loving bond. Ange!ic even. I can’t stand animal abuse…or any abuse in general. And the sixth sense is true. Speaking of which, a dog sniffed a certain ummm…part of me the other day…now maybe I should call my obgyn…or dog was a perv. Heard he does this but this article is making me paranoid lol.

  4. Snowpea says:

    This is the road our government wants us to go on.

    Australia has Medicare and every Australian citizen has a Medicare card. If you turn up to hospital for whatever reason, they take your card, fix you up and send you on your way without spending a cent. Same with most doctors.

    I can’t even fathom putting off seeing a doctor because you haven’t paid your insurance or whatever. Wtf America? Between your crazy lax gun control and your crappy healthcare system, you’re no longer looking like the land of the free.

    • Aussie girl says:

      I said the same thing yesterday snowpea. I had to get a massive ( 12 cm ) fibroid taken out months ago and while it wasn’t life threatening all up it cost me s little under $300. I had private health insurance for years but stopped it because I never used it, so this was on the public system. I was on the waiting list for under 3 mths, that’s all I had to wait. The $300was for my specialist appointments and I stayed 6 days in hospital and had a cleaner sent out for once a week for four weeks to help maintain my house. I was put in the maternity ward with only another lady in my room and the nurses were beyond good ( I wrote a long letter thanking them). I really can’t fault our system and relies how lucky we are. I know not all cases are the same and I’m in a rural area so I think the waiting list was much shorter.
      As for Shannon her dog is beautiful!! And I believe this about her dog knowing. Keep fighting Shannon xo

      • Snowpea says:

        Awwww Aussie Girl so glad you’re ok. We are so so lucky to have Medicare and I hope to god Turnbull doesn’t dismantle it. I personally am fit as a fiddle and never go to the doctor or hospital but a fortnight ago we were down at the snow and our toddler fell over on his new skis and sprained his wrist. We took him to tiny little Cooma hospital with just one doctor on and not only did they treat him straight away but we didn’t even have our Medicare card with us so they just looked up our number instead.

        Then they xrayed Banjo in their tiny one roomed radiology department, gave him a freshly made egg sandwich and looked after us with kindness, professionalism and care before sending us on our way.

        We are so lucky to have Medicare. Thank god you’re ok Aussie Girl.

      • Ange says:

        Yup. I’ve had several niggling health issues that have required overnight hospital stays in different states (I was travelling) and I just rocked up to the hospital, was admitted, treated with a minor procedure requiring a operating room and general anesthetic, stayed overnight and left without paying a cent each time. This year I was diagnosed with an auto immune arthritis and all my doc appointments, MRIs and specialist appointments haven’t cost me anything. All I’ve had to pay for is the medication at around $30 a pop for a 3 month supply. I GLADLY pay my taxes so I’m not hit with huge hospital bills each time I’ve had to do all this. We get the wages to cover it anyway.

    • Willa says:


    • gia says:

      Nothing is free. The taxpayers pay for it. I do not need to pay for more peoples bills.

      • Karen says:

        You better hope you never get sick and lose your job. Gia, you seriously lack empathy. It’s attitudes like yours that is causing America to go to Hell in a hand basket.

      • QQ says:

        You sound like a FANTASTIC Human being

      • Tia Maria says:

        @Gia I really hope you do not find yourself in a position to need to seek out treatment for a serious illness. The lack of empathy is startling.

      • Lindsay says:

        Even if you want to be super calculating and cold about it what the average American spends on health insurance, co-pays, and prescription drugs it works out to roughly what other countries with free healthcare pays in taxes. Also, if you have insurance and go to an ER or hospital you and the insurance company are paying for people without health insurance. It would bring down the cost of ‘frequent flyers’ managing chronic conditions through the ER, which is a huge tax payer drain. So you are just giving money to the government instead of insurance companies and you’ll live in a country with a safety net for its poorest citizens in need of care – which could happen to you or someone you love. Also, medical bills are one of the top causes of personal bankruptcy.

      • velourazure says:

        The thing is, Gia, you’re already “paying for it”. The uninsured and underinsured go to emergency rooms for their care which is a highly inefficient and expensive form of “health insurance”. Universal care for all would be cheaper in the long run than the ridiculous cobbled together mess we have now. Drug and insurance companies don’t want it because they make too much profit in this free for all we have.

    • Dani8 says:

      One thing I think other countries forget about our country, is our size. It is easier to implement health care for smaller countries. Obamacare has not been the be all for everyone. It has actually caused higher premiums for many people, namely the working stiffs. My son, who lives in Denver pays around $800.00 monthly for his premiums now. They have basically tripled since Obamacare. The country is still trying to figure things out. And yes everyone deserves good healthcare.

      • Harryg says:

        A huge part of the problem is hospitals charging whatever they want and drug companies making outrageous profit. They really need to be reined in.

      • BTownGirl says:

        There’s also the absolutely insane deductibles that some plans come with, which makes people avoid using the insurance they are already paying for. So that’s all working well.

      • Andrea says:

        I know several people who finally have healthcare thanks to Obamacare, so the system is working both ways. Overall, I am an American living in Canada now and can’t imagine going back to all those copays in the US. It would seem like going backwards.

    • Betsy says:

      Thanks for the insults, I guess.

  5. Tia Maria says:

    I live in the UK and I am so thankful we have the NHS. My boyfriend was diagnosed with cancer last year and within 1 week of going to the GP, being referred and diagnosed he was in for surgery. Chemotherapy then followed for 7 months and thankfully he is now on the mend. Without that system and the taxes we pay he might not be here. I gladly pay taxes to fund the NHS as you never know when you may be in need of its services. Love to Shannen and hope she gets well.

  6. S says:

    Shannen’s referring to extranodal extension of cancer. She’s at least Stage II

  7. BTownGirl says:

    Oh Shannon, get well soon. And Dogs For The Win, as always.

  8. Doodle says:

    As a Canadian living in the states I can say that both systems are flawed. In Canada nobody goes broke over medical bills and in the States I don’t have to wait for treatment. If the two systems could be combined somehow we would have perfect healthcare! My husband makes a really great living and we have excellent insurance, so my experiences being treated have been amazing in the States. But as an artist, I can say that if my husband didn’t have his well paying job is be screwed medically and that’s terrifying. I worry for my kids in a way I never did when I was living in Canada. And I do think that the mass shootings that happen in the states are directly related to the healthcare system in that mentally ill people here may not have easy access to their medications due to cost. We didn’t have those problems in Canada but th medications were paid for by the taxpayers. I know this is a separate issue and I don’t mean to start something… But basically both systems have their flaws.

    • Sarah says:

      I am in BC and without insurance covering my prescriptions, I paid $110 for 3 months of birth control and $35 for a simple steroid nasal spray when I had a sinus infection. Yikes!

  9. prettylights says:

    My Mom had thyroid cancer and before she found out her cat would lay on her and put his arm across her neck where the cancer was. After she was diagnosed and going through surgery/treatment he kept doing it and was there to comfort her. She did not have to have chemo but did have the radiation which was tough on her but it worked. Best of luck to Shannen, it sounds like she has a good support system.

  10. Nikki says:

    On a silly note, friends were talking about a dog who could smell cancer and react. They all thought it was awesome, but I would be freaked out every time the dog sniffed me or snuggled: “Oh No, do I have cancer there?!” Not for a neurotic like me! I love dogs, but I wouldn’t want a cancer sniffing specialist!

  11. Betsy says:

    Yeah, cancer literally smells terrible. Humans of course can’t smell it until near the end, though.

    • Helen says:

      Betsy, i read a really disturbing article once about the bad smell that people with end stage cancer have. It was really sad because it was written by someone with cancer talking about it being one last humiliation that simultaneously made her feel a burden on others.

    • Sarah says:

      That’s fascinating – I’ve never heard that.
      What kind of smell is it? Comparable to anything else?
      I read bees can also ‘sniff’ out cancer.

  12. Dani8 says:

    Another issue with the cost of healthcare is lawsuits. We need tort reform. Doctors have to order unnecessary tests to cover themselves which in turn drives up costs.

    • Andrea says:

      Tort reform is a myth. In reality, less than 3% of valid malpractice cases are even reported, and less than 25% end up in a judgment favoring the plaintiffs. What tort reform has made possible is that the worst doctors, those whose mistakes end up in death, are kept practicing because no attorney will pursue a case – no matter how valid- when the size of the award is so small. If you think that the medical boards will do anything against a bad doctor think again: In CA they close almost 95% of complaints, no explanations given.

      There is a reason why preventable medical errors are the third cause of death in the USA. Though I wish that a system like worker’s comp were in place to process cases of preventable errors, the reality is that tort reform has made it possible for HMO’s to reduce quality and access to care.