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

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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.

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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

Positive Pit Bulls

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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

The Golden(s) Rule: Telling Tales of 1,000 Golden Retrievers

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Story: Site’s Goal is 1,000 Golden Retriever Tributes

No stranger to the delightfully magnetic personality of the golden, having been a lucky pup parent to three, I readily identify with the 1000 Goldens Project, a site dedicated to celebrating this breed — thousand-fold.

Launched in 2008, the goal is to tell 1,000 stories of those who have been touched by the breed; anyone can celebrate, honor or memorialize their pet. (N.B.: Haley, the inspiration for The Paw It Forward Project, is #28.)

“Dogs transform lives. Just like people, every dog has a story. It is an opportunity for anyone to honor that precious gift,” wrote Traci, the site’s founder, in an email. “We were madly in love with our first golden, Farley. I wanted to share his life with others, but also wanted to have a purpose. We’ve been able to share information on great organizations and rescues via the stories people post.”

Stories like these:

  • A very shy pediatric patient who finally came out of his shell after a visit with therapy dog, Gopher, #25
  • Zoe, #21, a puppy with an undertreated broken leg relinquished by a pet store owner, later adopted and filling loneliness with love
  • Gracie, #19, a pup helping a mom in the most special way: “Mom got Gracie thru puppyhood and Gracie got her thru cancer”
  • Reese, #14, one of 24 “animal actors” placed on Craigslist by a production company after the movie wrapped, nursed back to health
  • Honey, #7, an outdoorsy, traveling adventure-lover, up for anything from making snow angels to cross-country road trips

And of course, Farley, #1, “the most unconditionally loving, intelligent, hilariously funny and wonderful companion,” who passed suddenly in 2012.

The 1000 Goldens Project family welcomed Newton, the puppy currently training for the “Dog Zoomie Winter Olympics” shown above, in 2013.

The long-term objective of the project is to publish a book featuring the stories and donate proceeds to Leader Dogs for the Blind, a nonprofit agency of Lions Clubs International founded in 1939 that has raised, trained and graduated more than 14,000 guide dogs.

“It is an organization I am passionate about and they enable loving families to adopt Leader Dogs who are retired from service as well as ‘career change’ dogs who weren’t completely suited for the life of a guide dog,” she continued.

The site also includes a substantial list of golden rescues and other nonprofit organizations helping the pups.

View the tributes here.

Learn more here or tell your story here.

Follow the project on Facebook.

Image by 1000 Goldens Project