Book Review


Doctor Dogs: How Our Best Friends are Becoming Our Best Medicine
By Maria Goodavage, c.2019, Dutton, 
$28, 353 pages

Nobody smiles like your dog does.

He’s happy to see you come back whenever, he wiggles, he brings you toys, he chortles, and then there’s that smile. No matter what happened to your day, your dog is the best part of it and in this book, you’ll see that she may be best for your health, too.

Everything he sees gets inspected, smelled, and smelled again. It’s all interesting to him because his little nose has “up to three hundred million” olfactory receptors, as compared to your puny six million receptors. You might smell a swimming pool, says Goodavage, but a dog could “sniff out a teaspoon of a chemical in a million gallons of water…”

For centuries, humans have known about those warm, wet noses and we’ve put them to work in hunting prey, contraband, and missing people. Relatively recently, science has also expanded a dog’s nose job into something that can enhance a life, or save one.

Diabetic-alert dogs, seizure-alert and cancer-scent dogs are trained to warn for what’s coming. Dogs offer mobility assistance for the handicapped, they can suss out deadly bacteria, and they help PTSD sufferers, the mentally ill, and autistic children.

The only problem?

It’s one that’s all too familiar to dog lovers: “Dogs never live long enough.”

Author Maria Goodavage takes a good look here at a bunch of good boys (and girls), and it’s delightful. Reading it’s like sitting on a bench in a busy dog park: oh, the stories you’ll hear.

By the way, don’t discount your own pooch; Goodavage says that family pets have been known to spontaneously alert for illness, so give Puppers a skritch and pay attention. She might be a muttly M.D.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives in Wisconsin with two pampered pooches and 13,000 books.