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:
- Learn about depression here and here
- Therapist directory
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline
- Crisis Text Line
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)