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

A Two-Legged Legacy: Wheelchairs for Rescue Dogs


Idea: Help Disabled Homeless Pets with Good Reads

Faith, a two-legged doggie hero, was featured on the cover of Animal Wellness Magazine in 2007.

Born with a deformity, she learned how to walk upright and soon became an inspiration for overcoming the odds – Oprah even called her “one of her favorite guests.”

Faith gained celebrity status for her work with U.S. soldiers, and she and Jude [her mom] often traveled to airports, USOs and other places where they would find injured or returning soldiers.

Her positive attitude, even in the face of her disability, made a huge impression on the troops and earned her the title of honorary E5 Sergeant, out of Fort Lewis. Four thousands troops attended the ceremony.”

— “Faith, the Two-Legged Dog” by Ann Brightman

She also visited schools to help kids learn to read.

In honor of her recent passing, Animal Wellness, one of my favorite resources for my blog about canine cancer wellness, will “pay this love forward and help other dogs like Faith the Dog who have mobility issues,” by donating 25% of subscription sales toward purchasing Walkin’ Wheels dog wheelchairs for rescue pups.

A 1-year subscription is $24 and includes six issues (print and digital versions), 12 natural health reports and a coupon book. Use promo code FAITH.

Follow Animal Wellness Magazine on Facebook and Twitter.

Image from Animal Wellness Magazine

Japan’s Most Radioactive Man Refuses to Leave Animals Behind


Story: Farmer Returned to Dead Zone to Care for Abandoned Pets, Livestock

Before the Fukushima disaster, Naoto Matsumura was one of nearly 16,000 residents of his town, Tomioka. Now, he — and the animals he cares for — are all who’s left.

Our dogs didn’t get fed for the first few days. When I did eventually feed them, the neighbors’ dogs started going crazy. I went over to check on them and found that they were all still tied up. Everyone in town left thinking they would be back home in a week or so, I guess. From then on, I fed all the cats and dogs every day. They couldn’t stand the wait, so they’d all gather around barking up a storm as soon as they heard my truck. Everywhere I went there was always barking. Like, ‘we’re thirsty’ or, ‘we don’t have any food.’ So I just kept making the rounds.

Why would someone endure living in a place with 17 times normal radiation levels?

Watch and find out.

Donate to his nonprofit and follow his journey here (Japanese site, but there is information in English, or use Google Translate).

Image by AP

Happy Tale Alert: A Boxer Bucket List

Haley the Wonderdog


Cancer survivor/thriver Romeo the Boxer, a rescued pup with an inoperable, aggressive form of osteosarcoma (bone cancer), is happily ticking off items on his bucket list — sitting in a firetruck, savoring spaghetti with peanut butter sauce and a spa day for his 9th birthday.

His mom, Riina, says, “I think a bucket list is great for anyone who loves their dog…it gives you a lot of hope and happiness watching them go in a positive, happy way and have some adventures and create new memories.”

Watch the video on CBC/Radio-Canada.

Read his story at The Dog’s Play Book.

Follow Romeo on Facebook.

Image by Riina Cooke

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Homeless Cancer Dog Finds Home, Can’t Stop Smiling

Platty with his new pup parent.

Platty with his new mom.

Story: Abandoned Dog with Cancer Finds True Love

A homeless 10-year-old golden with fibrosarcoma has found love — and proper medical care — at last.

Platty, so named for his “permanent smile” caused by an inoperable mouth tumor, was brought to a Tulsa city shelter by someone who found him last month and despite his special needs, shelter volunteer Alli Elmore adopted him.

In a recent interview, she said, “I just thought how sad Tuffy [her golden retriever mix] would be if he were there, spending his last days in a shelter. And I decided that whether he has two days, two weeks or two years, Platty deserves the dignity of being with someone who loves him.”

That love extends to throwing him a birthday party and indulging him in Kraft Cheez Whiz. The party was attended by about 200 people. “We thought it might be too much for him, but he just sat there soaking it up, wagging his tail,” said Karel Bagwell, Alli’s mom.

“He’s just the happiest, sweetest guy. He loves life. He enjoys meeting people. That’s all we want — for him to be happy.”

In just 10 days, he has garnered over 14,000 “likes” on Facebook.

Normally, dogs with his aggressive cancer, which spread to his lungs and possibly his spleen, would be euthanized, but because he is not in pain and there was a foster option, shelter staff felt placing him in a home was the right thing to do.

And there is hope: chemotherapy and radiation are still options.

A fund has been established to help with his medical expenses. So far, $8,500 has been raised.

Get updates on Platty’s smile on Facebook.

Donate and learn more here.

via Haley the Wonderdog, my blog that helps dogs with cancer live better and longer
Image by Tulsa World

Healing Heroes: Service Dogs Get 100% Free Health Care


Story: Vets’ Service Dogs Stay in Tip-Top Shape — for Free

Trupanion, a pet insurance provider based in Seattle, will cover 100 percent of veterinary bills for service dogs of U.S. veterans. The new U.S. Veteran Service Dog Program launched in January is a joint effort between the company and the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). The program covers unlimited care for certified dogs and there is no age limit for dogs. Coverage includes:

  • Treatments for pre-existing, hereditary, and congenital disorders
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Surgeries
  • Medications
  • Chronic or recurring conditions
  • Wellness and preventive exams and vaccinations

The VA estimates that 400,000 veterans are currently being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and recently revived their study to evaluate how service dogs can help. The American Humane Association website states that their service dogs can also be used to treat “…traumatic brain injury, panic attacks, anxiety, depression or a bi-polar disorder.”

Veterans with PTSD service dogs report improved sleep, decreased startle responses and a decrease in pain medication. Through the help of trained service dogs, veterans are able to engage in positive social interactions and reintegrate back into civilian life. — American Humane Association

More information on the dog health care program is available here. Veterans wishing to request a service dog can find out more information on how to do so here.

DoD image of puppy in the Warrior Transition Brigade Service Dog Training Program by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

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


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