'Doctor Dogs': Book celebrates dogs in medicine

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Maria Goodavage is hot on the scent of what she calls a life-saving medical trend. The diagnosing and treating of disease, not by doctors in white coats, but canines in collars.

"Dogs are being used in so many ways, they're really on the cutting edge of medicine right now," says Goodavage.

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Goodavage tracks their growing contributions in her new book, "Doctor Dogs." Starting with the uncanny ability of trained dogs to sniff out cancer cells. A demonstration at a center in England showed the test animal is able to locate the sample containing cancer cells in a matter of moments.

"I heard about some dogs that were detecting ovarian cancer at stage one which is unheard of at what's available at our doctor's offices. So I got really intrigued, so how is this happening," Goodavage wondered.

She began following dogs in two settings-- research and practical therapy. The second group includes trained animals like those provided by Dogs-For-Diabetics in the Bay Area, which can detect when their owners are running low on blood sugar and warn them, and they're not alone.

Leslie Fong suffers from Grand Mal seizures and relies on her trained service dog, Bud.

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"And he'll put his whole body if I'm on the floor, underneath my head so I don't hit my head on any concrete, or anything on the ground. This is amazing, this dog is a lifesaver," says Fong.

"Some dogs are detecting Parkinson's disease and they're seeing how early they can detect Parkinson's disease," says Goodavage.

She says other researchers are training the animals to detect super-bugs in hospital settings, and even Malaria.

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Ultimately, Goodavage believes scientists will learn to emulate some of the dog's sensory skills in other ways, creating new methods of detecting, and perhaps, treating disease earlier.

Goodavage is no stranger to extraordinary canines. She's also the author of best-selling books on secret service and military dogs.
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