Pictured Above: Blessed with great beauty and talent, New York Times best selling author, Maria Goodavage lives in San Francisco. Her family includes a spoiled yellow Labrador Retriever named Gus.
Since 1621, Americans have come together for one day for one purpose, to give thanks for our blessings. On Thanksgiving day before or after holiday feasts many families highly anticipate enjoying the televised Philadelphia Kennel Club Dog Show and of course football! What comes next is the rush to the malls to search for the perfect holiday treasure.
Relax, I’ve found the perfect gift to wish for or to give. New York Times best selling author Maria Goodavage, one of the foremost author experts on working dogs has just released her latest masterpiece, “Doctor Dogs, How Our Best Friends Are Becoming Our Best Medicine”.
Goodavage captured my interest with just one excerpt in her book’s cover. In Doctor Dogs we learn about “Dogs who detect cancer and Parkinson’s. Dogs who anticipate seizures and diabetic lows and highs. Dogs who treat autism, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and PTSD. With all the amazing technology available to today’s medical doctors, one of the most promising tools is surprising familiar: a dog’s nose.”
Below: People living in the bucolic Japanese town of Kaneyama have some of the highest stomach-cancer mortality rates in the country. Residents like Tsuruko Chigahara are putting their hopes in a pilot screening program that uses dogs to rapidly and non-invasively detect cancer in urine samples.
Below: A dog in a prostate cancer study walks around a scent carousel at Medical Detection Dogs in the English village of Great Horwood. The organization is involved in a variety of groundbreaking medical studies around the world. The studies have one unifying element. They use dogs to detect the scent of illness.
The author traveled around the globe to learn firsthand the advancing technologies involving dogs and their their super noses. In Japan where the world’s first scientific cancer screening by canines is taking place, Maria spent days with the scientist in a remote village that has the highest mortality rate for stomach cancer in the country.
She witnessed the awesome power and sensitivity of the canine nose, as dogs sniffed out cancer, malaria, and deadly bacteria at a research center in England, colorectal cancer in the Netherlands, ovarian cancer in Philadelphia, and the superbug C. difficult at a hospital in Vancouver. In Rome, Goodavage interviewed a team that trains diabetic alert dogs. She spent time with a Croatian family and their daughter’s autism assistance dog, Bob.
During her extensive travels in the United States, Maria uncovered riveting stories of the lifesaving power of highly skilled doctor dogs from canines who can sniff out seizures in advance to dogs who help people cope with mental illness, including terrifying hallucinations.
Below: Researchers at Georgia Tech are studying ways to help dogs communicate better with people. Talking vests and touchscreen technology may one day lead to dogs being able to “tell” researchers the strength of a cancer scent or to help someone take action that will avert a mental or physical health crisis.
Below: Diabetic-alert dogs, like these trained by Canine Hope for Diabetics in Southern California, can outperform sophisticated technology for detecting diabetic lows and highs. When it comes to lining up for a photo, they can be like any other dogs.
With intimate interviews and meticulous research, infused with the author’s genuine enthusiasm and passion for her subject matter, Doctor Dogs offers a glimpse into a bright, exciting future working with highly trained dogs to detect deadly pathogens and superbugs, which one day may lead to stabilizing or preventing pandemics. One doesn’t have to be a dog lover to be engrossed in and inspired by her narrative, as well as be charmed by the humor inherent in the warm stories of the dogs, who are performing life-saving tasks for the simple rewards of a treat, a toy or simply a pat on the head.
Below Right: Stewie, an Australian Shepherd who has been trained to detect cancer in laboratory samples, occasionally seems compelled to alert people—despite her trainer discouraging this unscientific moonlighting. When Maria Goodavage, who has family history of ovarian cancer, met Stewie, she steeled herself. Below Left: Cindy Otto, DVM, PhD, gets some love from Foster, a dog on the forefront of ovarian cancer research. “If there’s an odor, we can train (dogs) on it”, says Dr. Otto, founder and executive director of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center at the University of Pennsylvania. “They’re heroes without knowing how important they are.”
Other New York Times best selling books by Maria Goodavage include Soldier Dogs, Top Dog and Secret Service Dogs. You may have seen her on numerous national television shows, including The Daily Show and Today. Maria has given talks about working dogs at the New York Stock Exchange, the National Museum of the United States Air Force as well as many other notable venues.
Those blessed to receive Doctor Dogs will be captivated by what they learn from this extraordinary book! Rumors from the North Pole are that after the Macy’s Parade, Santa will be heading to malls to hear what holiday treasure is on your wish list! It’s that time of year to light up the fireplace, sip a pumpkin spice latte and enjoy this great new book! Good luck to everyone in Philadelphia and Happy Thanksgiving!
Below: When Paul Willis is hospitalized his canine, Koira alerts him that he is about to experience full-body paralysis or agonizing dystonia. Paul says that when Koira lies on his legs, it seems to help blood flow better to his brain and makes him improve more quickly. Photo courtesy of Vivian Willis.