From pup to cancer-sniffing superstar

A dog’s nose has sixty times the scent receptors of a human — and with this amazing gift, scientists have found that some dogs can sniff out VOCs emitted by cancer cells as they develop.

The In Situ Foundation in Chico pioneered this research. The foundation has trained over 50 dogs to detect diseases. Early this year, Enloe Medical Center decided to sponsor a dog In Situ could work with and looked for families willing to adopt the pooch among its employees. Traci Hunt and her family applied, and welcomed puppy Enloe into their home in early April.

A different process for adoption

Enloe the puppy

Then they got the call — the Hunt family would welcome Enloe, a yellow lab puppy, into their home. The opportunity was rewarding for many reasons: In addition to bringing home a bundle of unconditional love, Traci knew Enloe the puppy would learn a special skill that could give back to the community around them.

Puppy basic training

Enloe the puppy began his training soon after joining the Hunt family. Dina Zaphiris, the founder and CEO of In Situ, came to Traci’s home several times a week to teach basic commands — sit, stay, come over — to expose the puppy to further training. Traci said Enloe has been doing really well with basic training, and they make sure to reinforce that at home. Traci’s family also socializes Enloe, taking him to meet new people to ensure he remains friendly when out and about.

A lab in a lab

In late April, Enloe the puppy was ready for his next step — training at the In Situ Foundation lab 2 to 3 times a week. Traci and her family won’t take part in the lab training, so their role will change — they’ll give Enloe a fun environment at home to balance his work in the lab.

While he’s only just beginning his career, Enloe the puppy is already a celeb in Chico — he’s met the CEO of Enloe Medical Center, made the front page of the Chico Enterprise-Record and made his TV debut on the local news. Traci says a trip to Petco now takes longer because many people want to get a pic with Enloe.

Giving back to cancer treatment

Traci and her family didn’t take in Enloe for the celebrity factor. Traci’s life is devoted to cancer care and treatment. As the director of Regional Cancer Center, Traci, a trained registered nurse, supports staff in providing quality care to cancer patients.

Traci lost two aunts and one grandparent to cancer, and another grandparent was diagnosed with the disease. Traci and her husband were both diagnosed as well in the last several years, and were fortunate to find the right cancer treatments and options. And now, Traci says they are giving back by raising Enloe — who will hopefully help more people catch cancer early.

Read more about Enloe the dog on his blog.

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