DOG MEDICINE: How My Dog Saved Me From Myself by Julie Barton
Viking/Penguin Random House, July 19, 2016 (Initially publish by Think Piece Publishing)
At twenty-two, Julie Barton collapsed on her kitchen floor in Manhattan.
She was one year out of college and severely depressed. Summoned by Julie’s
incoherent phone call, her mother raced from Ohio to New York and took her
home. Psychiatrists, therapists and family tried to intervene, but nothing
reached her until the day she decided to do one hopeful thing: adopt a
Golden Retriever puppy she named Bunker. Dog Medicine captures in
beautiful, elegiac language the anguish of depression, the slow path to
recovery, and the astonishing way animals can heal even the most broken
hearts and minds.
DOG MEDICINE a beautiful, soulful, insightful book that simply has to be
your next must-read.
-- Cheryl Strayed New York Times best selling author of Wild
“Anyone who has ever opened their heart and asked an animal to teach them
how to live—and there are so many of us—will be deeply moved by the story of
Julie Barton and her soulmate Bunker. In this honest, gloriously
unselfconscious and compelling memoir, she does great honor, not only to her
dog, but to the miracles made possible when logic, and even language, is not
allowed to stand in the way of love.”
— Pam Houston, author of Sight Hound and Contents May Have
“Dog Medicine is the kind of memoir that will bring tears of sadness and joy
to anyone who has ever felt rescued by a pet. It is a memoir about how the
right animal can inspire not just hope but mercy. Julie Barton’s prose is
lyrical and unflinching, a gorgeous howl in the darkness that leads the
reader into the light.”
— Steve Almond, author of Against Football and Candyfreak.
“Dog Medicine accomplishes what only the most authentic writing can do:
craft language so that readers live an experience. In this brilliant and
lyrical debut memoir, Barton has written a narrative of inescapable appeal.
The bond, here, between human and animal isn’t easy or sentimental — rather,
it’s archetypal and magical. There is a Buddhist story of a Bodhisattva, an
enlightened one, who refused to enter paradise until an ailing companion dog
could also enter. Dog Medicine relates an equally powerful story of
devotion, only related in real, worldly terms with heartbreaking
consequences and rewards.”
— Sue William Silverman, author of The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life
as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew.
“You may think you’re about to read a book about a charming dog, or about
struggling with identity in your twenties, or about how a young woman pulls
herself together after a diagnosis of depression. But you’d be wrong. Dog
Medicine is a love story — a great big beautiful honest touching
intoxicating riveting page-turning instruction manual on the palpable
healing power of love and forgiveness. Every word in this book is as honest
and courageous as any I’ve ever read, and I’ve read a lot.”
— Robin Oliveira, New York Times bestselling author of My Name is
“There are times when another creature can hold our love until we can hold
it for ourselves. And then, in perfect symbiosis, the beloved can become the
lover, until they are one force. Dog Medicine shows us that this is not just
possible, but sometimes, a matter of life or death.”
— Laura Munson, New York Times bestselling author of This Is Not
The Story You Think It Is.
“Julie Barton’s memoir Dog Medicine is the most heartbreaking and
heartwarming book I’ve read in years. It tells both the harrowing story of a
depression so severe that Barton felt it might “vaporize her into
millions of tiny molecules” and the consoling story of her eventual recovery
through the love of and for her beloved dog and “spirit twin,” Bunker.
Reader, this book about how Barton’s dog changed her life will change your
— David Jauss, author of Glossolalia: New & Selected Stories.
“In Dog Medicine Julie Barton has the cure for the common memoir. Not only
an account of the unshakeable bond between dog and woman, her tale is a
clear-eyed exploration of how thoughtless cruelty damages our souls, and how
love, both given and received, makes us whole again. You’ll come back to
this book again and again.”
— Samantha Dunn, author of Not By Accident: Reconstructing a
“Dog Medicine was so powerfully written, so lyrical and true, I felt I’d
experienced every moment, all the loss, the crushing depression, the
compassion, the great unstoppable love. So much love. Julie Barton’s journey
with her beautiful dog Bunker from despair to hope was a profound exercise
in how to be healed. For that, I’m deeply grateful for having read this
— Alan Heathcock, author of Volt.
“Julie Barton’s wise, wonderful, impeccably written memoir is not just a
book about how a puppy can help keep at bay the gray wolf of depression.
It’s also a book filled with love stories and stories of people finding
their better selves, all dramatized with novelistic suspense and complexity.
In this age of hour-long therapy shows and sensationalistic self-depiction,
Barton’s book holds true wisdom as it tells the hard-earned truths of mental
illness, self-doubt, abuse, hope, family, forgiveness, connection with self
and others, and finally something close to salvation. Barton gives real
insight, conveyed through incisive, evocative prose. And she proves the
adage that purpose comes not only from how well we are loved, but by how
well we love.”
— Tim Parrish, author of Fear and What Follows and The
“If you’ve ever loved an animal; if you’ve ever hated or doubted yourself;
if you’ve fought against darkness—then Julie Barton’s memoir is your kind of
medicine. Just as Barton and her beloved Bunker finding and saving each
other feels meant to be, this woman was meant to write, so she could tell us
this brave and beautiful story. Through the magic of their journey, I’ve had
my own heart cracked open and healed. Like Bunker himself, this book is that
most precious of gifts: a true soul companion.”
— Ellen Lesser, author of The Shoplifter’s Apprentice and
The Other Woman.
“A raw and honest memoir about Julie Barton’s clinical depression and how
the love of a dog helped pull her back from hell. An eloquent testament to
the resilience of humans and the healing power of canine love.”
— Susan Richards, New York Times bestselling author of Chosen By a
Horse: How a Broken Horse Fixed a Broken Heart.
“It is not easy to explore the frightening landscape of depression with
depth and surprising beauty. But Julie Barton has done just that. As someone
who has lived with chronic depression for many years, I can tell you from
personal experience how daunting and misunderstood this disease is. Not
surprising that it takes the love and loyalty and unwavering sanity of a dog
— any pet, really — to reach those of us struggling to find a way through
the grips of melancholy. This, I know from experience, too. Read this book
if you or someone you love is wrestling with depression. Read this book if
you love dogs. Read this book if you want to remember what hope feels like.
Just read this book.”
— Susan Chernak McElroy, New York Times bestselling author of All
My Relations: Living with Animals as Teachers and Healers.
“Julie Barton was haunted by a major depression that threatened to topple
her. What could one small puppy, Bunker, do in the face of such calamity?
Only when Barton created a sacred place where she and Bunker could meet, a
place without ridicule, doubt, sorrow, or anger, could the true healing
begin. Her meticulous rendering of this transformation honors the power of
— Jacqueline R. Sheehan, New York Times bestselling author of Lost
“This absorbing memoir travels along the axis of depression and hope in
beautifully crafted prose. Barton uses fresh language to provide a better
understanding of the depths of depression, and introduces us to Bunker, her
saving grace who throughout the book holds readers in their place.”
— Marcelle Soviero, editor-in-chief of Brain, Child: The Magazine
for Thinking Mothers
“Julie Barton’s Dog Medicine provides a detailed and engaging account
of a young adult suffering through a first episode of major depression. The
etiology of Major Depressive Disorder is multifactorial – and Ms. Barton’s
narrative gives due consideration to the various biological, environmental,
situational and psychological factors which contributed to her illness. She
recovers from her depression with the help of medication and psychotherapy,
however she returns to happiness with the help of a far more powerful cure –
the love of a dog.
Over the years, I have lost count of the number of my patients who report
their lives having been saved by love for their dog or their cat. Our
mammalian companion animals are literally “bred” to be perfect therapists:
unconditionally loving, accepting, great at listening, warm, cuddly, always
attentive, ever present, ready for petting. Ms. Barton’s love of her dog
Bunker pulled her through her darkest depressive episodes and out into the
light. I recommend getting a dog or a cat to all my patients who have the
resources and room for such a commitment. Now I will recommend Ms. Barton’s
inspiring book Dog Medicine as well.”
— Adam Strassberg, M.D., Psychiatrist, author of “Keep Calm and
Parent On” and the Psychology Today Blog: Silicon Valley Psychiatry