Hi. I’m Sherlock.
I‘m sure you’re wondering what a chocolate Lab is doing on a breast cancer website. Well, if it weren’t for me, this wonderful organization wouldn’t be here. Martha probably wouldn’t be here either. The real story goes like this…
When I was born, I had four brothers and three sisters. My mother was so cool, but we were driving her crazy. She told us that we had jobs to do on this planet, and we needed to go out there and do them. What that entailed was choosing some humans that we each knew were going to need us and then get busy helping them.
The girls were first, as usual (because they’re so cute) and then we brothers started showing off. I remember the day that this sweet little family came to see us. It was a Mom, a Dad, and a young son. They certainly seemed like a nice sort, so I decided that I would show them my stuff. I picked up a giant stick, more like a tree, and ran around dragging it. They laughed a lot and obviously were impressed because they decided that I was the boy for them. (Actually, I knew that they would fall for me because I heard the Mom comment on how cute I was.) So, off I went with Martha, Jim and Mark. I instinctively knew that this was the right family because we animals are so much better at instinct, you know.
Well, teaching this family what to do was quite a challenge! They are sweet, but I had to take them to see a trainer when I was very young because they just didn’t understand that they needed to give me treats upon my command. It took me a while, but I finally got them under control.
Martha was the one with whom I spent the most time, so she and I became very close. (She is a real pushover for animals so it was a piece of cake, actually.) When I was training Martha on the treat supply thing, I noticed that she was a bit stubborn and very persistent. Her traits made her training somewhat more challenging, but I was happy to see it because I knew we were going to need this on our journey.
I finally brought them around to being an excellent Labrador family. We always had lots of fun and lots of treats. I took Martha on long walks. You know, it‘s a big responsibility to walk humans as often as they should be walked. Martha did a lot of thinking and meditating while I walked her. There were many times that I knew she needed more thinking time, so I would just insist that we go out again!
And, I made sure that Jim and Mark got serious water time. (Of course, we Labs love to swim!) We’d play a lot and, when they’d get tired, I’d just keep pushing my toy at them until they understood that they needed to continue. I was always careful to keep them busy and active. I knew that they needed their exercise.
As you can tell, we animals have big jobs to help humans. Once I groomed my family, we had fun sharing our lives together. I knew, however, that we had some big work to do and I needed to make certain that Martha was good at responding and understanding me. So, I trained her to play with me every morning. We would wrestle with each other. She would laugh at me and I would smile at her so she would know that she was doing a good job.
The time came when I needed to send Martha a very important message.
She had always been a rather diligent person about her health, but I began to sense that something was wrong — that some of the traditional human health testing wasn’t working for her.
What was I going to do? She wasn’t doing anything wrong nor was she being negligent (which, in reality, shouldn’t be a determining factor for testing anyway) but something was being missed. Now, when I took her for walks, I was the one doing the thinking and meditating. I was the one trying to decide how I could alert her to a problem. I loved her so much and she loved me. She would do anything to take good care of me and I would do the same for her. We understood each other. Sometimes, though, humans have a difficult time hearing above all of their human noise.
Finally, it came to me; I knew my plan. I would take care of it the very next morning! In Martha’s defense, she had been diligent about having routine mammograms. She had no family history of breast cancer or any other reason to be particularly concerned, but she just followed the rules. (I feel sure that I had a paw in that by my excellent training of her).
But, instinctively, I knew there was an issue for her in one of her breasts that she really needed to look into. She had had her usual mammogram only 3 months before and it didn’t signal anything for her; she was just going merrily along being Mark’s Mom, Jim’s wife and my special guardian.
The next morning, according to plan, as we were wrestling, I scratched her chest. I was able to place the scratch exactly on the correct breast and I made it a straight line, like an arrow pointing to the spot that she needed to investigate. (That’s how good I am.) The very next day, she got up and there was the bruise! Wow — was she ever lucky that she had me!
Now, I had to hope that she would follow through to check on this…