A Book Celebrating the Life-changing, Life-saving Love of a Dog


Story: Curing depression through the human-animal bond

Helpmates, companions, best friends. Dogs have been there for us, possibly for the last 27,000 years or so. Our histories intertwine and we seem to know inherently they are good for us — and now, science backs it up.

But can they literally become an antidote we need to conquer serious illness?

Dog as Healer

Exploration of the dog as healer is at the core of  Julie Barton’s new memoir, “Dog Medicine.”

In brave and honest detail, Julie shares her struggles with depression — discovery through recovery — weaving together reflections and memories to recount the interior life of her illness, and how the connection with a golden retriever called Bunker (above) saved her from probable suicide.

Through rich, evocative language, Julie lures and captivates the reader:

The two of us were braiding our energies. We were tying all of our untied strings together. We lay with each other on warm summer afternoons, slumbering side by side, slowly building a promise to travel this life together. His love for me would not wane. He would remind me, with wagging optimism, of his unbridled love for life, how to be in the present moment and let my troubled thoughts melt away.

I thought of the suicidal plans that used to linger at the edge of my mind. As if a miracle had come, the endless sorrow lost its power with this dog by my side. Something about him began to close that awful chapter in my life.”

Finding Love and Self-acceptance

The book’s subject is solemn, yet its message is uplifting and hopeful — and relatable for anyone who has been lucky enough to experience the vital force and selfless charity of a “soul dog’s” love (I had Haley’s).

I couldn’t put the book down and devoured it in one sitting — with my dog by my side, of course.

Get Help for Depression

An estimated 350 million people suffer from depression around the world. If you suspect you may be one of them, you can find help at these sites Julie suggested in an email to me:

If you’re looking for a dog to adopt — or perhaps even just take for walk, please drop by by your local animal shelter.


DOG MEDICINE. By Julie Barton. (234 pp. Think Piece Publishing, $14.95)

Follow “Dog Medicine” on Facebook and Julie on Twitter.

Images courtesy of Julie Barton

Spotlight on 3 Dashing Adoptable Seniors


Story: Adopt a Senior Sweetie

Second Chance Cocker Rescue is pawing it forward by finding homes for cocker spaniels in California. They sent in this story to share.

There are three senior fellas looking for their forever families. Maybe it’s you?

This week, we rescued not one, but three senior boys. All three of these sweet seniors need foster homes while they wait for us to find them permanent homes. They are also eligible for our Sanctuary Program where we pay for their medical bills for the rest of their lives.

alvinAdorable Alvin

First was Alvin, a sweet 10-year-old boy living with a family in Modesto. He needed medical care but they couldn’t afford his vet bills so they called us. We were delighted to be able to say we could help. After a few tests, it turned out that Alvin probably has Cushing’s disease and he will be tested for that. With the proper meds, he will live a normal, happy life.


vayleValiant Vayle

Then we heard about Vayle, a 13-year-old boy in the Animal Friends of the Valley shelter. He had been turned in several weeks before by his family. The shelter contacted us to rescue him, but before we could respond, a family had adopted him. We were delighted — that is until they changed their minds and brought him back. This time, we made sure we got him. He is adorable.


corwinCutie-pie Corwin

Last, but certainly not least, Carolyn found 10-year-old Corwin at the the California City shelter. She fell in love with that cute face. Who wouldn’t?




All of Second Chance Cocker Rescue dogs are behavior-tested and receive an exam, vaccinations, spay/neuter and heartworm testing. Interested in adopting? Fill out their application here.

Follow Second Chance Cocker Rescue on Facebook and Twitter.

Images by Second Chance Cocker Rescue

The Soul of a Senior Dog: How One Rescue is Changing Lives


Spotlight on a Caring and Compassionate Large Breed Senior Dog Sanctuary

It’s Adopt-A-Senior-Pet Month!

There are a lot of reasons to adopt a senior; most adopters will like that they’re usually housebroken and trained and, for the most part, what you see is what you get.

If you’re looking for a large breed senior dog, Lily’s Legacy Senior Dog Sanctuary in northern California may have your perfect pup!

Though Lily, rescued at age 12, was only with her loving adopters for the last four months of her life, she inspired the start of this unique nonprofit.

[Lily’s] mission in coming into our lives: To have this sanctuary established. A place where many of the senior dogs who are lost, abandoned, or otherwise find themselves homeless, will have a safe haven in which to live out their days, or stay until a loving adoptive home is found, and where they will receive the love and care they so richly deserve.”
— Alice Mayn, founder and executive director of Lily’s Legacy

8 ways to be helpful to this organization:

Lily’s Legacy also has a permanent sanctuary in Petaluma, California.  The organization is a 501(c)3 nonprofit.

Follow Lily’s Legacy on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

Image by Lily’s Legacy

Positive Pit Bulls


Story: A Friendly Dog Shouldn’t Have to Wear a Friendly Collar

It’s National Pit Bull Awareness Day!

I was with my golden retriever today at the car wash and I met a darling pit bull  wearing a collar with the word “FRIENDLY” embroidered on it.

Ironically enough, my dog, a “friendly-looking” pup is actually mildly reactive.

This pit bull couldn’t have been more neutral, yet his caregiver took the extra step to make sure folks know that he is. I don’t think that’s fair.

Let’s give this negative hype a remix. Here are positive stories to read and share.

10 Uplifting Pit Bull Tales
How to Help

Pit bulls and pit bull mixes are the dogs most at risk of being killed in animal shelters around the country because of the sheer number of them and the negative stigma surrounding them.”

— Best Friends Animal Society

Image credits from top: Lynn Terry; American Humane; zaemeetsworld; The Independent; The Huffington Post; Wimp.com; TexasGirly1979; Modern Dog; KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation; Cable News Network; Pit Bull and Bully Breeds Lovers

Dogs and Ebola: Should We Be Worried?


Story: The Facts About Ebola and Our Pets

Sadly, Excalibur, the dog of Ebola patient Teresa Romero Ramos (pictured), was euthanized in Spain despite there being no documented cases of dogs becoming sick with Ebola or spreading it to people or animals. According to experts, authorities could have quarantined the dog instead.

The panic over Ebola has spread to our canine friends. But is that justified?

Here’s the latest from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

The ongoing epidemic of Ebola in West Africa has raised several questions about how the disease affects the animal population, and in particular, the risk to household pets. While the information available suggests that the virus may be found in several kinds of animals, CDC, the US Department of Agriculture, and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) do not believe that pets are at significant risk for Ebola in the United States.”

Learn more:

Update: The AKC Canine Health Foundation just published a new report, “Ebola: Understanding Viral Transmission, Pathogenesis and Why the Dog is Part of the Conversation,” concluding that “…there is currently no evidence that exposed dogs become productively infected and shed Ebola virus.”

Abused Pit Bull Turned Therapy Dog Becomes America’s Sweetheart

Susie Hero Dog 2014

Story: Pup and Adopter Stand Up for Fellow Abuse Victims

Susie, an abuse survivor who became a therapy dog has been named this year’s “American Hero Dog” at the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards™.

The awards honor “the powerful relationship between dogs and people and recognize extraordinary acts of heroism performed by ordinary dogs.”

Susie was only a puppy when her owner beat her savagely and set her on fire, leaving her for dead in a local park in Greensboro, North Carolina.

After being rescued by a local animal shelter and nursed back to health, she was adopted by Donna Lawrence, who had been the victim of a terrible dog attack that nearly killed her and left her without the ability to have children.

Together, they helped each other heal from their physical and emotional wounds, triumphing over pain and fear to become voices for abused animals and helping pass ‘Susie’s Law‘ in North Carolina, which calls for harsher penalties for convicted animal abusers.

Susie became the subject of the movie, ‘Susie’s Hope,’ and working side by side, Donna and Susie continue to make the world a better place for others by visiting hospitals, schools, and nursing homes to inspire people never to give up.”

— American Humane Association

Susie’s charity partner, Paws & Effect, an organization that raises, trains and places service dogs with disabled children and veterans, received $5,000 in her name.

Give $10 to the American Humane Association to help animals and children in need. Text HUMANE to 80888.

Follow the Hero Dog Awards on Facebook and Twitter.

Image from American Humane Association

3 Ways to Save These Sanctuary Dogs in Hawai’i

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Story: Sole Animal Sanctuary on the Big Island Rescues, Rehomes Abandoned Dogs

Tucked away outside of buzzy Hilo, Hawai’i down a sleepy country road lined with grass taller than you and me is Rainbow Friends Animal Sanctuary, home to over 300 unwanted, neglected or abused animals.

Recently, I had the honor of visiting the sanctuary in person.

Hawai’i: No paradise for animals

Mary Rose Krijgsman founded the no-kill sanctuary in 2001 in response to the island’s abandonment and overpopulation issue, much of it stemming from unregulated backyard breeding of hunting dogs and an overextended, economically depressed population who cares for multiple animals without the means.

Though the island’s population is 180,000, in a follow-up email interview after my visit, Mary Rose cited a report that compared the overpopulation problem to a mainland city with 1 million people.

According to her, 1,200 animals are euthanized each month by the local animal control shelter.

An Oasis for Homeless Pets

Sitting on 7.5 acres in a park-like setting, the sanctuary site is refreshing and unlike anything I’ve seen: grassy paths lined with shady trees, some gently bending together to form tunnels leading the way through the property. Outdoor enclosures allow for sunshine, breeze and fresh air. There is even a pond.

Shelter is provided in each secure kennel and generally, two dogs are companionably housed together.

Every dog is walked every day by volunteers and there is a charting system to be sure.

The dogs are enthusiastic, energetic and it was evident that they are content and cared for.

“The animals have a home here…We are not a shelter, we are a sanctuary. We are not a clearinghouse for animals, we are a place where the animals live, learn, eat, communicate, play and get some training,” wrote Mary Rose, who lives on-site. “What we want to communicate with the community is a ‘way of life.’ A life that is pono, full of love, compassion, caring, equality, trust and respect.”

Meet Florence

The sanctuary is inundated with calls for help and offers a home to as many animals as they can, including those who are sick or otherwise unadoptable.

During my visit, I got to know Florence (pictured), a sweet-natured dog suffering the effects of neglect, including low thyroid, skin fungus and a lymph system that is not functioning properly.

Rainbow Friends has funded three operations for her, medication for her condition and weekly medicated baths. “With all this, she is one of the most joyful dogs there are, she loves her toys and will play with them,” she wrote. You can sponsor Florence, or another dog, for $30/month.

Three ways you can help

In addition to monetary donations or giving good and services for the care of their hundreds of animals, including substantial veterinary bills, the sanctuary is seeking support for the following programs. Simply designate your wish under “special purpose” on the donation form.

  1. Support their monthly spay/neuter clinics, where they alter 50 dogs or 100 cats per day for low-income families.
  2. Help create their on-site veterinary clinic. To reduce veterinary costs, Rainbow Friends is reconfiguring their indoor space to function as a clinic by building an enclosed outdoor area for cats.
  3. Give Fido a flight home. They are also seeking use of a plane to transport dogs to the mainland for adoption, as “There are not enough people to adopt out to” on the island.

Donate now.

Rainbow Friends is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and all contributions are tax-deductible.

Rescue dogs aren’t broken,
they’ve simply experienced more life than other dogs.
If they were human, we would call them wise.
They would be the ones with tales to tell and stories to write,
the ones dealt a bad hand who responded with courage.
Don’t pity a rescue dog.
Adopt one, Foster one, Sponsor one.
And be proud to have their greatness by your side.

Follow Rainbow Friends on Facebook.