The book spans one year of my life, from April 1996 to April 1997. I was twenty-two years old and diagnosed with major depression after a tumultuous year in New York City.
I went home to Ohio, saw doctors and therapists, but nothing helped until I adopted a beautiful red puppy named Bunker. He was able to provide support and hope when nothing else could.
Dog Medicine is the story of how, slowly and clumsily, I learned that I deserved unconditional, healthy love–both the canine and human varieties.
Advance Praise for Dog Medicine:
“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.”
“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.”
“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 Careless Life
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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 life.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.
“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 love.”
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.