In The Last of Us Episode 6, Joel and Ellie are tested for Cordyceps not with a device, but a very good, sniffy boy – so, are dogs actually capable of smelling Cordyceps?
In the first episode, we saw a young boy stumble around the derelict surroundings of the Boston QZ before FEDRA took him in. A guard sat him down and made him feel comfortable, while another used a device on his neck to check if he was infected.
Bad luck: it flashed red, so he was killed and thrown onto a fire. It’s an instant decision, which is why Ellie ran into some bother when her test showed a positive reading, despite her being immune.
Excluding the obvious signs – you know, the manic running, biting, clicking, and bloating – how else could you tell if someone is infected, especially if you can’t see any bites? Easy: get a dog.
Can dogs smell Cordyceps in The Last of Us?
Yes! Dogs are capable of smelling and detecting Cordyceps in the show, making them an effective testing method in lieu of a device.
When Joel and Ellie are circled by Maria’s group, they’re forced to stand still while the dog inspects them. Joel’s in the clear, but he’s concerned about Ellie after her positive test in Episode 1. Thankfully, the dog doesn’t alarm anyone and he’s quite happy for Ellie to pet and play with him.
A few things we should note: dogs can safely eat Cordyceps in real life. “Feeding cordyceps to dogs is beneficial to their health. These mushrooms have many benefits to offer,” Can Dogs Eat It explains.
“They prevent liver disease, boost the immune system, repair reproductive function, and increase dogs’ energy levels. Cooking cordyceps makes them more digestible and reduces choking risks.”
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Thanks to their enhanced sense of smell, dogs have also been trained to sniff out various diseases, including cancer and COVID-19. They’re armed with 220 million scent receptors compared to our mere five million, so they’ll notice the slightest, near-non-existent change to our scent.
Who is the dog in The Last of Us?
While we never learn the dog’s name in Episode 6, it’s presumed he’s Buckley, the same dog seen in Jackson in The Last Of Us Part 1 and Part 2.
In the first game, you can pet Buckley as he sits at the hydroelectric dram in Jackson. Tommy says he’s not much of a guard dog, but he’s still “good to have around” for some company.
You can see the game’s version of Buckley below:
When the dam is attacked by bandits, Buckley is nowhere to be seen – don’t worry, though, because he returns in Part II. He’s only seen briefly, sitting with the town’s banjo player, but Ellie can pet him any time she passes by him.
The Last of Us Episode 7 will be available to stream on February 26 in the US and February 27 in the UK. Check out the rest of our coverage here and the trailer for the weeks ahead here.