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There’s a charming story going around today’s local press here in the UK, and it involves one of my favourite animals. A sheep. A sheep called Alfie, to be exact. And Alfie is today enjoying his 15 minutes of fame because, according to 41-year-old archaeologist Emma Turner, he may well have saved her life. How? By butting her repeatedly in the chest. And when the bruise came up, Emma discovered in the middle of it was a lump. She was subsequently diagnosed as being in the early stages of having breast cancer.

Good old Alfie, who is being dubbed  the ‘psychic’ sheep. But it’s not the first time an animal has detected a health problem in a human. There are many stories of how domestic pets have, through one means or another, alerted their owners to a life-threatening health problem. Some animals even let their owners know when they are in danger of going into a diabetic coma, for instance. And there are loads more examples out there if you can be bothered to look for them.

So back to Alfie. The sheep is normally well behaved, says Ms Turner in The Swindon Advertiser. But one day he ‘went nuts’, and started headbutting her in the chest. If he hadn’t, then Ms Turner may not have found the lump. And, as her doctors told her, the cancer may not have been found until it had spread.

It was as if Alfie was returning the favour – according to the newspaper reports, Ms Turner saved his life when he was born. Ahhhhh (cue warm glows all round).

So what have we learned from this story? If a sheep headbutts you, it may well be trying to tell you something important.