By Matthew Searcy
LAKE EGYPT, Ill. (WSIL/CNN) - Dogs are often called man's best friend, and an Illinois man is convinced his dog saved his life.
Meet 19-year-old Ricky Hatfield and his 2-year-old miracle retriever named Maverick. The pair share a close bond which was strengthened earlier this year when the well-trained K-9 acted out of the ordinary.
"He head butted me right in the groin," said Hatfield.
Something Hatfield says Maverick would never do.
"Head down and hit me and then backed off and then looked at me for a minute, and I was down on the ground for a little while," he said.
The injury only got worse.
"It swelled up just a little bit, and the swelling wouldn't go down," said Hatfield.
After a few days Hatfield decided to go to the emergency room.
"We had some ultrasounds done, and the lady that did the ultrasound said it looked like a mass," said Hatfield.
A mass Hatfield had never noticed before the injury, but doctors diagnosed him with stage two testicular cancer.
"I was speechless because I'm 19 and you don't think that stuff like this can happen to you," said Hatfield.
Hatfield says he will find out if he needs chemo later this month, but doctors say his prognosis is positive and expects a full recovery.
As for Maverick, his vet, Dr. Jim Parker says a cancer sniffing dog is certainly a possibility.
"There is no scientific study that can prove it but certainly those types of coincidences happen enough that you got to wonder if there is not more to it than just purely coincidence," said Dr. Parker.
For Hatfield there is no wondering. He says he owes his life to Maverick.
"There is nothing better than having your first real dog that actually kind of saves your life," he said.