9780143130017_DogMedicine_CVF_q2.inddNow a New York Times Bestseller!

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At twenty-two, Julie Barton collapsed on her kitchen floor in Manhattan. She was one year out of college and severely depressed. She called her mom, who raced from Ohio to New York, picked Julie up, 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 unforgettable language the anguish of depression, the slow path to recovery, and the astonishing way animals can help heal even the most broken hearts and minds.

* Advance Praise for Dog Medicine *


The-Red-Sun_Foreword-ReviewFive Stars from Foreword Reviews: “A stunning new memoir from Julie Barton explores the topics of severe depression and canine companionship as treatment in poignant and revealing language.”


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Five Stars from San Francisco Book Review: “Dog Medicine offers a carefully measured appreciation of life, in which every step forward is a victory worth celebrating, and every dark day is something that must be endured before moving on. Barton’s story of her life with Bunker is truly moving, and provides heartwarming proof of the ability of pets to alter our lives for the better.”


From Kirkus Reviews:  kirkus_500x95“This difficult subject matter might cause a lesser writer to overreach and fall into maudlin sentimentality, but Barton writes with simple clarity and precision about her depression and its effects on her life…A heartfelt page-turner about depression and how dogs can save us from ourselves.”

37 thoughts on “

  1. I am barely going into the Bunker Kegger and completely dying inside. I feel that Julie is telling a story of my own. I have my little Presley and would move heaven and earth for him. I cannot thank you enough for telling your story and making me feel like I’m not alone in this world with the same darkness at one point. THANK YOU!

  2. I don’t think I have ever read a book that has touched me so much.
    I literally just put your book down, having read it all in one sitting, and was in tears almost the entire time. It was so poignant and beautifully written, and makes me so so grateful for my corgi Clarence who has helped me with my own depression in so many ways.
    Bunker truly was a beautiful soul and we are all so blessed to have these furry angels in our lives. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  3. Dear Julie,
    I just finished your book about bunker. What a lovely story and I had lots of emotions. I agree the love for animals is the best cure for healing.
    I admire your kindness and love for animals.
    All the best.
    Sincerely
    Martine Desmet
    Belgium

  4. Julie,
    I cannot begin to explain to you how moving your book was. I understand that many people suffer with depression and many people also love dogs, so you are getting a lot of this. I never did get to the “floor” so to speak, because I rescued a rottie/boxer mix that we actually named “Savior”. Her unwavering love held me up through so many stints in my life that could have brought me to the place you saw in your apartment is NYC. I have been diagnosed with major depression a while ago and hence on medication as well. However, nothing seemed to reach me and my brain the way that just putting my hand on Savior did. I felt everything you wrote like it happened to me. The love you had, and I’m sure still have, for Bunker is the way I love my Savior. Her name fit her every single day. I lost Savior in February. She was almost 13. There is not one day that goes without thinking of her. After she passed I had some life troubles I had to deal with and I wasn’t sure I could do it without her. I managed, but not without wishing every second she was there to get me through it.
    Also, I was so hoping that you were going to end up with Greg. By mistake I read the “acknowledgements” and saw that you thanked your “husband” Greg, so I knew before I got to that part, but I was so happy for you. I finished the book yesterday sitting in the sun. I think that I had more tears than sweat on my face when you talked about Bunker passing. I could literally feel the heartache.
    Thank you for letting us into your life, for making known that people aren’t alone in their depression even though they may feel that way.
    I have never felt so moved to actually write something to an author before, so I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  5. Julie, I just finished your book and it is incredibly moving. My yoga teacher recommended it because I mentioned how my rescue dog Jessie rescued me after I had a traumatic brain injury (which brings depression, too) and that I wanted to write about it. I’m so glad you posted a video of you and Bunker. Such loving eyes. I see you’ve already visited Seattle, but I hope you can come back soon.

  6. LOVED, LOVED, LOVED, LOVED your book. Thank you for sharing your life with us. I saw myself in your depression and suffered for years before finally beating it back. Mine came from genetics and childhood abuse. I also saw my daughter, who always wanted a loving, supportive relationship with her brother, but he wasn’t available to her. So many parallels between your family and mine. I wonder if those who suffer from depression are more likely to form deeply emotional relationships with their fur babies? It occurred to me while reading your book that we may love our fur babies so much because we are unable to love ourselves. We are giving our animals what we desperately needed as children. And we get their pure, undying love and devotion in return.

  7. Oh my goodness, Julie, that was the best and most heartfelt book I’ve ever read. I am a serious dog lover, and could feel your pain throughout the entire book. I held it together until I got to the letter that you wrote to the vet the day of Bunker’s surgery. I don’t know why, but I read it aloud and was sobbing while I read it. My German Shepard, Foxi, came out from behind the couch like I had lost my mind and stared at me. You took such good care of Bunker and I was moved by your heartwarming story of real love – the kind that cannot be duplicated – between a human and their dog. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this memoir. It will stay in my memory forever and I will share it with dog lovers – starting tomorrow – I’m sharing with a coworker, and I warned her to have the Kleenex handy. Thank you so much, Julie. Good luck to you and your entire family, and may God bless all of you, Glenda

    • Glenda, Thank you so much for the lovely note. I’m so happy you found the book, and that your beautiful Foxi found you. Thanks also for sharing the book! Means the world to me! All my best. ~ Julie

  8. Mrs. Julie Barton,
    I read your story cover to cover and by the end of the epilogue I was ugly-crying. I’m writing this as I sit next to my own savior, Enzo, a golden retriever who I adopted in the darkest time of my life. A time when I felt that my existence was a nuisance to myself and others. When my mother finally understood the severity of my thoughts she drove to pick me up and move me home.
    When she arrived, I was just a puddle, a broken soul that wanted so badly to be put back together. After countless thought of suicide I realized that I wasn’t just in a bad stage. I needed help. Yet, I didn’t even want to begin to try because it seemed impossible and pointless. Despite the pain that left feeling as if I had the weight of a thousand earths crushing me, I convinced my mom to let me adopt Enzo. I needed a purpose. The way you described the instantaneous calm that entered your life when Bunker did echoes in my memory and makes me think of the day I picked up the little ball of fuzz that I now adore more than anything. She was the last puppy left. The one everyone else looked past. The second I held her I could feel my heart getting better. She has truly healed me in ways I could not have imagined. Your story is so incredibly real Mrs. Barton. I commend you for sharing it for the world to read. I cannot imagine the courage and dedication it took.
    I must ask you though, how did you get past losing Bunker? I fear the day that I lose Enzo and wonder if I will fall apart.

    Sincerely,
    Dylaneigh & Enzo

    • Dylaneigh, I am big fan of ugly crying. And Enzo sounds like such an incredible healer. It’s astounding how they help us, isn’t it? It was indeed a little scary to be this honest with the world, but you know what? People like you make it all worthwhile. It’s so nice to find such beautiful kindred spirits out there. We’re not alone. All my best, Julie

  9. Julie,
    I picked your book up in a Chicago airport on my way home to New York. I quite liked it-found it honest and unrelenting and unfiltered but as a native New Yorker took some offense to how it seemed New York took a good deal of implied blame for your breakdown–as someone who has battled depression, has lost 2 dogs and probably mentally abused his sister in our youth I quite identified with it but was disappointed with that aspect- being fiercely loyal to New York and knowing the root issues of depression do not have much to do with place. But more importantly I wish I could have met Bunker–he was obviously a special boy–and so seemed your connection. I recently adopted a dog who my friend was about to adopt before my friend passed away of cancer so I am blessed with a special one too–even if I am just caretaking her until she meets my friend and true owner she hasn’t met yet.
    Thanks for the book. Look forward to your next–glad Greg gave you a second chance too–and you him!

    • Hi Kyle, Thanks so much for the note. I definitely did not intend to not blame New York for my mental state. I don’t blame anyone or anyplace, actually. It was all me–I was my own worst enemy. I can imagine that if one is happy and well, New York is an absolutely amazing place to live. I wish I could’ve been that way when I lived there. Maybe I’ll try again some day. You never know! All my best, with deep love for Manhattan after all, Julie

  10. Julie: I got your book & read til 5 this morning! I could relate to your depression because I went through a clinical depression & I didn’t get the help I needed – this started in ’74 – & surprisingly I came across some really bad therapist who saw me as hysterical, manic depressive, you name it. I had come from a cold, damaged mother & married a man w/ narcissistic personality disorder. When he realized I wanted to return to college after 25 yrs off campus, he systematically verbally abused me which left me trying to figure out who was crazy – the doc who kept drugging me, myself with all the negatives I heard in my head or my husband who was Dr Jeckell-Mr Hyde. My life felt like I lived in a carnival with a fun house mirror that distorted who I was when I tried to find myself. I can’t even begin to tell you how deep in the Blacks I fell. As we were military, my family was thousands of miles away but they would not help me. The only salvation for me was writing. I wrote every night, trying to figure out what was happening to me & thought if I could figure it out then maybe the psychiatrist would help ‘fix’ our marriage. I was dangling by a thread & was desperately trying to hang on. I remember writing: I live in a world
    Of sardonic men
    Who carve my bones
    Then tell me it’s only
    My imagination.

    I just needed someone to believe me & help me out of the dark hole that was slowing taking away my breathing, my reality of what was going on in our marriage & stop the meds that were harming, not helping.

    So very glad you had the support of your parents, friends, Bunker and Greg. I don’t think I will ever feel truly safe with a man. But I am 72 now & walking in the end years of my life. I have wanted to write my story but I still live with a lot of fear. So glad you wrote your book. I could identify with the hell you went through. God bless you & your family!

    Baby’s Mom

    • Hi Baby’s Mom! Thanks so much for the note. I think you broke the “stayed up late reading” record. The previous time I heard was 2AM.🙂 I’m so, so glad you wrote. It’s incredibly healing, isn’t it? All my best to you for many more fruitful pages. ~ Julie

  11. Thanks!!!!
    Read the abstract in dailymail & just ordered a hard copy from Amazon India.

    Thanks a lot! May God bless you! For everything!

  12. Julie,

    I couldn’t put your book down, I am almost through it in 24 hours. Your story matches my own. I also grew up in Columbus, Ohio and moved away and fell apart. I still suffer from anxiety and depression as well. Two years ago dog appeared in my life suddenly named Marley, and is teaching me about unconditional love. My AA sponsor calls her “my God dog” because she is the only thing that gets me out of my thoughts sometimes. I love how you talk about how your dog keeps you in the present moment, how he could sense when you were upset, and you would spend time just watching his movements. I can relate so much to that! I never ever thought anyone else ever felt saved by a dog. Marley changed my life and your story helps me remember that I am not alone. Thank you!

    • Kelly, Thank you so much for your beautiful note. You are not alone. Not by far. There are so many people out there saved by their dogs. I’m so glad Marley found you. With love, Julie

  13. Julie – your story is beautiful. I just finished listening to the audiobook version on Audible over the past week while I walked my three dogs. While I don’t suffer from depression, I found your story inspirational while I battle some professional, financial, and family setbacks in life. Thanks to the love and support of my wife and dogs, these setbacks are manageable and I hope I will overcome them in time. My eyes welled up with tears when you described your emotions when Bunk turned six and made me realize how important it is to cherish the time with my dogs, as two are seven years old and one just turned five. Your epilogue was extremely moving, as it brought back the memories of another beloved dog who died suddenly at the age of 9 when I was in my 20s. I also was very happy to know you have forgiven your brother. I look forward to your future writing, keep up the great work!

    • DS, Thank you so much. I love the idea of walking the dogs and listening to Dog Medicine. Makes me smile. Thank you and best wishes to you and your family (human and canine, of course). ~ Julie

  14. Hi Julie , My name is John and while I was married we got a dog name Ben . He is half lab and Rottweiler and all black but when the sun shines on him you can see the brown fur. Ben change my life also and anyone who has pets knows this feeling words can’t describe that love they give you. Ben is with my x at the Hs. and I’am in a small apt. One day Ben will be gone and that will be a sad day, but don’t let bunker water bowl go dry, there is another dog waiting for you and needs you as much . Bunker will not be forgotten Julie .

  15. Julie I couldn’t’t put your book down. My golden retriever tripper came into my life about a month before my son passed away suddenly, he was the only reason I got out of bed in the morning, he was funny and smart and I miss him so much. Sadly he passed away eight years ago and I miss him but he will never be forgotten. God bless you. Wishing you all the best

    • Thank you so much, Sally. I’m so sorry you lost your son. But I’m so glad Tripper found you and you him. They’re our earth angels, aren’t they? All the best, Julie

  16. I just wanted to thank you for writing such an amazing book. It was like you came to me and said ” I am writing a book that explains YOUR struggles and what is in YOUR head.” There it was in front of me in black and white. I too have begun to find peace for my struggles, due to terrible life events, within my dog and rescue cats. It goes back to that feeling that they choose us…they don’t judge us…and our care for them somehow puts us on the healing path. I still have a very long way to go as therapy is also a strong part of my healing, but when my animals entered my life things just seemed different…better…the dim light a bit brighter. Your book truly moved me to tears. It will be something I hold onto to forever remind me I am not alone and I can fight the negativity that tends to cloud my brain. I find myself often looking to my pets to get me through those days and somehow they always know how to pull me through. We all need a “Bunker” in our life. Thank you.

    • I love it, Joelle. “There it was in front of me in black and white.” They do choose us. And you’re so right that they do put us on the path to healing. I’m so glad your dog and cats found you. All the best, Julie

  17. Incredibly touching book that really draws the reader into what it’s like to experience the paralyzing depths of depression. At times I struggled while reading, remembering exactly what you would describe. I also found myself feeling thankful to have someone of your talent validate the darkness that is depression. In my worst point I got a dog as well. I remember thinking, “if this doesn’t help, I can’t be helped.” It helped. She only lived to be 6 but she helped me make it (had both her knees replaced by age 3, bad genetics). It’s been two years since I’ve had an extended period of depression. Thank you for this wonderful book!

    • Renee, Thank you so much for your note and for the very kind words about my writing. I’m so glad your dog found you and helped you. They’re amazing healers. All my best, Julie

  18. Julie, I have not finished reading about you and Bunker- I’m a littler over half through it. I have to say I also grew up with a lot of physical and emotional abuse, and at 37 I still internalize those negative thoughts. They are what I was trained to believe and think about myself. There are good days just like there are bad days. It was really good to read someone else lived with these negative thoughts that are a result of the abuses that have been ingrained in our brains. Before I started reading your book I decided to get a puppy. He, Tucker, will be home soon and I hope to have as beautiful of an experience as you and Bunker had. Thank you for writing this book. Thank you for bringing the closeted life of depression to the eyes and minds of those who do not know what it’s like to live with this often debilitating illness.

  19. Julie – thank you so much for telling your story. My name is Julie too, and I was diagnosed with depression at the age of 24 in 1986. I’ve been dealing with this disease for 30 years now, and have been on a multitude of meds. I accepted a long time ago that I would be on medication for this, for the rest of my life – and that’s okay. We are similar in another way, in that we have both been blessed to be loved by dogs. I don’t know how I would’ve made it through some of my darkest times without my Chihuahuas. There was Tina, Tigger, and Leo – who have all passed over the Rainbow Bridge. And my current four loved ones, Katy, Roscoe, Ike, and Kissy. They are the light of my life. Even though it’s so hard to lose them when their time comes, I can’t imagine not having a dog in my life. My latest baby to pass was Leo, in March 2013. It was very sudden and very painful. I still think of him every day.
    It was difficult to read your story because I recognized almost every aspect of it. It was all so familiar. It’s an uphill battle for me every single day, but I keep on “keepin’ on”. I’m so glad you found relief and happiness with your husband and your girls. God bless you and stay healthy!
    Julie Harris

    • Thank you so much for the lovely note, Julie. So glad your dogs have helped sustain you. They’re amazing creatures, aren’t they? Sending my best to you and them. ~ Julie B.

  20. Hi Julie

    Just a note to thank you for sharing your wonderful story. Here I am at work and sneaking the wonderful reading! I am happy that everything worked out for you! !

  21. You’re book is so touching. I know what it is to have the companionship of a dog. My dog, Oreo, comforted me the night I lost my dad. I didn’t have to be strong for him.

  22. Julie, I just finished your book and found it so beautiful and moving. I know that wonderful feel of love and connection for a dog. My dear Abbie Gail is 4 1/2 years old and she is such a blessing.
    My son, Dan, suffered from depression just about the time you did. He also got a puppy lab (Alba) to help save him and he loved her so much. Sadly, he didn’t survive as he went off his meds, he was 32 Meds were so experimental in those days.
    You’re story reminds me so much of him and his struggle.
    You are a great writer. There is so much feeling in Dog Medicine. A great tribute to Bunker.

    • Arlene, Thank you so much for the note. I’m so sorry you lost your son to depression. It’s a brutal disease.

      I’m so glad that Abbie Gail found you and helps you. All my best to you and your family. ~ Julie

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