3rd Sense Health

My name is Dionne Dumitru, and I’m creating 3rdsensehealth.com to support efforts to use dogs to screen for health issues.

Canine detection offers the potential that screening for cancers or viruses could be non-invasive, quick, inexpensive, and accurate. We could detect diseases earlier than our current technology-based methods allow, which could be lifesaving. That dogs can be taught to detect disease in humans with high reliability is proven, and there are many people working in scientific research, process standards, and canine training to enable canine health screening.

To get from where we are now to a future in which canine detection is embedded in healthcare services, we must overcome the problem of scale. Animals cannot be manufactured, and like humans they have biological limits to how much they can work in a day and a lifetime. Although almost every dog is born with the olfactory and neural networks necessary for this work, not every dog has all the attributes that are required for the job, so the number of dogs who are capable of the task are a subset of the total number of dogs in the world.

Yet the greater constraint is human: people who are knowledgeable, skilled, and committed to train and work with the dogs to perform this highly specific task. Although there is abundant potential amongst the thousands of dog trainers and handlers, how can they commit without having a market to sell these services to?

I see a wealth of potential: an enormous opportunity to improve lives, people and dogs who could make this opportunity a reality, and multitudes who would benefit from a better, less invasive means of health screening. With this site, I want to provide a platform to raise awareness, inform, connect and support those whose potential can make this opportunity our future reality.

Dionne Dumitru

I’m a former executive in retail, software technology, and wholesale distribution. Some of my most satisfying and formative work has been in organizations that brought industry together with universities.

Early in my career, I was a member of a consortium founded by the University of Texas-Austin and Austin’s leading technology manufacturers (e.g., Motorola, Dell, Intel). More recently, I served on the Advisory Board for the Supply Chain and Analytics Department in the College of Business, University of Missouri-St Louis. These experiences demonstrated to me the power of bringing people together from many different perspectives to address big problems.

About Ellie


Ellie has lived with us for several years. How fortunate we have been to have her in our home during the Covid-19 pandemic; she brings joy and laughter to our house every day.

When my husband Dave and I met Ellie (then named Eleven for the Stranger Things character), we fell in love. She was a bit broken at first, unable to trust, not knowing how to play, not socialized. My husband taught her how to play and in time she learned to trust us. Over the past three years she became the loving and sweet companion she is today.

Ellie’s eyesight isn’t great, but her sense of smell is unlike any dog we’ve ever lived with. Smells often overtake her and she’s driven to absorb the smell completely.

Living with a dog who clearly experiences the world primarily though smell, and who extracts information we could never aspire to know, gives me a deep appreciation for the work of dogs who detect diseases. But Ellie is not a candidate for this kind of work; she hasn’t the temperament and isn’t young enough. She is, however, my inspiration.

Why the recipe posts?

Primarily, this blog focuses on sharing news and information about canine detection used for human health screening. That’s the purpose of this site, and you can navigate to view only the Canine Detection posts if that’s why you’re here.

Occasionally, we take a break for a ‘treat time’ recipe post. If you live or work with dogs, you know how important even the smallest of treats can be to them. When we first met our dog Ellie at the rescue shelter, she was somewhat manic and couldn’t concentrate when we tried offering her training treats. She was in heat, although the shelter was unaware. To account for Ellie’s lack of interest in the treats, the young woman working at the shelter breezily said, in a statement that is now legend in our household:

Well some dogs just aren’t food motivated.

Once Ellie understood she was secure and safe in her new home (and the hormones had washed away), she resumed being her true food-loving self. As with dogs, so go humans. It’s no wonder that food is central to every celebration across every type of human society throughout history.

Food involves all of the senses, but the most essential to taste is the sense of smell. As attested by those who have lost their sense of smell temporarily due to Covid-19 or another viral infection, food that can’t be smelled has no taste. In the recipe posts, I try to convey the aroma that accompanies cooking and tasting the food.

I’m not a chef, simply a home cook who enjoys the science and craft of preparing food, and as will be evident in the accompanying pictures, I’m not a food stylist. What I share with every cook is a desire to connect meaningfully with others using the most fundamental means possible. Penzeys, the spice company whose tagline is ‘Love people / Cook them tasty food‘, have another way of saying it:

Cooking is what happens when you care about people.

With her Penzeys bandanna

I think this caring can also extend to dogs. The first Treat Time recipe is the one I use to make small dog biscuits. I also cook the food she eats, a once-a-week meal prep that is a real labor of love. She talks to me every time I fill her bowl. Surely she is telling me how much it means to her.