The longer you’ve had a pet, the easier it is to notice when something about their behavior is off.
When one dog owner from Derby, England, noticed her dog acting strangely three years ago, she didn’t know those actions would have a lasting impact.
In 2019, Cleo the Yorkshire Terrier, a pint-sized pup, made it very clear to owner Brenda Richards that something was amiss.
Every evening, Richards would carry her tiny dog up the stairs when it was time for bed — it was part of their routine.
What wasn’t part of their routine was when one evening in April, after Richards picked Cleo up, Cleo began struggling to get out of her grasp and scratching at Richards’ chest, distinctively odd behavior for the dog.
“She just did not want to be there,” Richards, 78, said, according to the Daily Mail. “She was struggling and wriggling around in my arms, and she has little legs and little claws. It was then I felt the lump.”
That lump turned out to be cancer.
“She was trying to tell me something,” Richards told SWNS, according to People. “Without a shadow of a doubt, my little doggie, Cleo, found the lump in my breast and saved my life. I had no idea there was a lump there. If my little doggie hadn’t found it, I don’t think I would ever have known about it.”
Richards, a great-grandmother to three, wasted no time getting treatment.
“There was no messing about,” she said. “My mammogram, biopsy and diagnosis all happened on the same day. They gave me a choice to have a lumpectomy, a mammogram or do nothing, so I opted for the lumpectomy.”
After the diagnosis, Richards went through eight months of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a clinical trial, but she made it and heard those sweet words at the end of the ordeal: no more cancer.
It helped that she received treatment at a hospital she was very familiar with.
“I knew I was in safe hands,” Richards said. “I knew all the nurses from when I volunteered at the very same hospital. I had seen how they treated people with my own eyes.”
Having come through the treatment, Richards is now a strong advocate for getting regular mammograms.
“The sooner you go to get checked or diagnosed, the better,” Richards said. “In spite of my worries, when cancer actually happened to me, I breezed through it because my lump was found early.”
“I dread to think what would have happened if Cleo hadn’t behaved the way she did.”
“Getting the all-clear in February 2020 felt fantastic,” Richards said. “I needed to know the cancer had gone.
“My dog Cleo, my baby, saved my life without a doubt.”