For those that own a dog or any other pet, saying that they’re your best buds is an understatement. Dog owners can definitely say that their pooch is a family member, and that life wouldn’t be the same without them. You can say the same about Stephanie Herfel and her Husky who is her guardian angel.
Stephanie met her pooch Sierra years ago when her son entered the house carrying a 9-month old fluff. Check out their story and photos where we tell you why Sierra is a very special dog!
20. A Tough Marine and a Mom
Stephanie Herfel was a Marine, and she knows what it means to be tough. After her son grew up and joined the Air Force, she had to deal with his departure.
But what she didn’t know was the last minute change that would save her life in the future.
19. Before Saying Goodbye…
Before her son came to tell her goodbye, he went and picked up 9-month old Sierra, an adorable husky pup. This way his mom wouldn’t have to feel lonely in the house. One morning, he entered the house, grinning and holding a fluff.
18. Sierra, the Husky Pup
His mom was very excited to see the pup, and they soon became best friends enjoying the outdoors and the couch cuddles. Sierra even went on a cross-country move with her mom and her dad Jim. The pooch was so great that she never complained or threw tantrums as all Huskies do!
17. A Special Dog
One day though, Sierra began acting weird. It was when Stephanie felt discomfort in her stomach. She thought it was food poisoning, but the painful sensation persisted for a few days. She went to the doctor and came back with pain medication.
But the doctor couldn’t be more wrong!
16. Something Was Wrong!
The doctor said that the worst thing Stephanie could have would have been an ovarian cyst. Coming back home, Sierra perked up and ran to her mom. After a while, every pet owner learns their furry babies’ language and Stephanie knew that Sierra was acting weird.
15. Sierra Was Acting Up
The pooch looked more energized those days, and when she hopped on the couch next to Stephanie, she thrust her nose into her human’s tummy, sniffing. Stephanie tried to tell Sierra to leave her alone, but the pooch kept sniffing…
Then she does this!
14. Sniffing her Abdomen
After all those years with her dog by her side, Stephanie has never seen the husky behave that way. At first, she checked her clothes to see if she spilled food or something on them, but before she got to check, Sierra ran from the room.
13. It Never Happened Before
Wondering what happened, the woman followed the dog and found her huddled like a ball in the closet. It was as if she was scared by something and was trying to communicate that to her human.
What could it be?
12. Something Was Wrong
Stephanie linked the painful abdomen and the sniffing and running away and concluded that Sierra was more trustworthy than her doctor. Maybe the pooch knew something the doctor did not, so the woman scheduled another visit to the doctor.
That’s when she learns the terrible truth about her pain!
11. Going to the Doctor, Again…
Unfortunately, Sierra’s nose wasn’t mistaken. Stephanie was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and the bad news was that it was in an advanced stage. The chemotherapy began, and Stephanie also had a hysterectomy and her spleen removed in 2014.
But that’s only the beginning…
10. Late-Stage Cancer
Recovery was tough, but Sierra was there to help around. Doctors warned that having late-stage cancer meant greater risks of remissions. The pooch immediately sensed it one year later! Here’s how it happened.
9. It Happened Again
In 2015, Sierra warned her mom something wasn’t right again and a visit to the doctor confirmed the bad news. That meant another round of treatment. Then, another year passed…
What do doctors think about it?
8. Stephanie Got Better
Stephanie got better when again in 2016 Sierra perked up, smelled her mom’s body and ran away. The executive director of the Wisconsin Ovarian Cancer Alliance, Ashley Wagner said that it was “almost like the dog knows something is going on and is scared. The dog didn’t want to be near her.”
7. Sierra Began Acting Up
The pooch again signaled like the last two times and the doctors confirmed what Sierra already felt. This time, doctors found cancer in Stephanie’s pelvic area, so she again began diagnosis.
Then, this happened last year…
6. The Last Diagnosis
After her treatment, Herfel bounced back again and hoped that 2017 would be the last time she got diagnosed with cancer. She knows that it could come back, but she wants to stay positive.
But she does more than that…
5. Cancer Free
“That’s how I live my life. I’m going to do the best thing I can do at the time until the next best thing comes along,” she said in an interview. And she is planning to do it with Sierra and the rest of the family by her side!
4. Staying Positive
As of 2018 she is cancer-free and set on helping others that suffer from this terrible disease. Meanwhile, she still wonders how Sierra could sense that something was wrong inside her body. Her oncologist has a theory…
3. She Smelled Chemical Traces
According to Stephanie’s oncologist, Doctor David Kushner, some breeds of dogs can sense chemical traces that are released by tumors, and the accuracy is of 98%! Maybe Sierra is gifted with this superpower!
2. A Great Pup!
Sierra is her mom’s superhero after saving her life countless times. Stephanie was lucky to have her by her side and went public with their story so that they can help others that are yet undiagnosed.
1. Sierra Is Very Smart!
Stephanie said that maybe this story “can let people think about their animals and think, ‘Wow, my animal did this when I got diagnosed.’ Just to give the animals credit that they are pretty smart.” As we can all see, Sierra is indeed not just adorable, but also intelligent and gifted!