Dog Medicine, How my Dog Saved Me from Myself

By Julie Barton

Julie appeared well on her way to a successful career as an assistant editor. But suicidal thoughts kept crossing her mind, steeling her energy. Depression sunk in as she passed out on the kitchen floor while boiling a pot of water. She awoke coughing, turned off the burner, and then passed out again. Dog Medicine book

The next day, Julie awoke long enough to call her mother and tell her about her breakdown. Her mom dropped everything to drive nine hours from Ohio to rescue Julie and bring her back home.

Back at her parent’s house, Julie continued sleeping for weeks, while we learn about her childhood. She had a very abusive older brother, Clay, who beat her often, threatened her life, and insulted her. Her mom seemed distant and unaware of Clay’s cruelty, while her dad spent most of his time at work. Clay grew out of his abusive behavior in his late teens, while Julie turned inward. Her mind produced an endless string of negative self-talk and her boyfriends agreed.

Julie always felt best when she had a dog. Her first experience with a dog was with Midnight the cocker mix, when she was a young child. Midnight hid under the bed trembling whenever Julie and Clay fought. When Julie was nine, her family got Blarney, an Irish setter puppy. When he was two, Julie watched him run in front of a school bus and run over.

Her parents encouraged her to see a psychiatrist as her depression lingered. Julie realized her situation was dire and felt that a puppy could help save her. Within a few weeks of starting anti-depressants, she adopted a golden retriever puppy.

Bunker had also chosen Julie and they developed an immediate bond. Julie now had responsibilities to house train and teach him. She could no longer linger in bed for hours each morning.

Their bond deepened as Bunker sensed her moods. His presence helped her to counteract her negative thoughts. Bunker brought “judgement-free listening and wordless faith.”

“I took a deep breath and felt the blackness loosen its grip. Dog medicine. I’d found it, and I swallowed it hole.”

As Julie recovered, her parents to encourage her to find an apartment and a job. She decided to act on a distant friend’s request that she move to Seattle and share a home with two guys. Her mom encouraged her and she drove Julie and Bunker thousands of miles across the country. Julie had an aunt in Seattle who could help with the transition.

As Bunker grew, several episodes occur where he hurt himself and could barely walk. He recovered by the next day, so Julie wasn’t concerned until it seemed to happen more often. The vet told her Bunker had the worst case of hip dysplasia he had ever seen and that she should euthanize him.

Bunker felt like air to Julie and she could never face putting him down. Even though she had little money, she decided to do the expensive and painful surgery on each of his hips. Julie and her housemates help her scrape up some of the money with a fundraiser. She saved and borrowed the rest.

While Bunker is recovering from his first surgery, Julie has a one-night stand. This threatened her blossoming relationship with one of her housemates. It also disappointed the friend who had invited her to Seattle. Depression starts to threaten Julie again. But this time she defeats her degrading self-talk, and owns up to her mistakes. She manages to salvage her relationships while Bunker heals from his surgeries. Bunker helped Julie through her depression and she gave him a new lease on life.

I liked this book, especially learning how depression can leave you very helpless. Bunker was an incredible dog that held a special bond. Not all dogs can do this. But I’ve often felt that dogs have a special medicine in their selfless love for their owners.

I give this book five out of five stars.

Blogpaws wordless WednesdayThis is a wordless Wednesday blog hop. Please visit the other blogs and comment.



Enviro-Friendly Dog Poop Bags

After writing several blogs about dog poop this summer, I knew I had to “practice what I preach,”—or at least try it. The first article was about the environmental hazards of dog poop. Store display of poop bags

I pick up, so that wasn’t the concern.

My issue involved the use of poop bags. Half the time I use a poop bucket and compost the poop—which is a good thing to do. But when I walk my two cockers without my husband, then I use poop bags. It’s hard to juggle two dogs on retractable leashes plus holding a poop bucket.

So for years, I had used the plastic sleeves from our newspapers as poop bags—so at least I was recycling (but only once). Then the bags went in the trash, and into a landfill. This wasn’t enviro friendly, which I stated in my next post, which encouraged the use of compostable bags.

After writing the post, I decided to buy some compostable poop bags. Since I had a huge amount of newspaper bags this seemed silly. But I felt it was the responsible thing to do. The newspaper bags could get recycled with the plastic bag waste.

Poop bag boxPoop bag

I stopped at my local pet store and stared at the poop bag selection, which was much larger than I expected. It should have been easy. Find the cheapest bags that say compostable, right? Wrong.

The first time I went to the store, only one package said “compostable.” So I bought them. I am not receiving any compensation for this post. I just wanted to try them out. These bags were ultra-thin and I did rip at least two. I picked up the poop and threw them in the compost pile. After a few weeks, the poop bag disappeared. Lavendar scented poop bags

When I went to buy a second batch, the type I had purchased were not available. Instead, the same company had lavender-scented bags—to cover up the poop smell.

But the box did not say “compostable.” I used my phone and googled the brand and checked. It stated that they were compostable—but why don’t they say so on the box? The package is from recycled paper, but what I cared about were the bags.

Well, I bought the lavender bags, which were much thicker. I didn’t know if they would compost, but time has shown that they do. .

So why do manufacturer’s make finding eco-friendly poop bags a challenge?


This is a wordless Wednesday blog hop. Please visit the other blog posts and comment.

Blogpaws wordless Wednesday

Book Review: What It’s Like to Be a Dog, And Other Adventures in Animal Neuroscience

By Gregory Berns

From the title, I first expected this to be a story told from a dog’s point of view, but it’s not. What its like to be a dogRead the subtitle, “Animal Neuroscience.” This book is about studying dog brains and other animals with MRI scanners. This allowed researchers to measure the strength of connections within the brain. Continue reading

How much is your dog worth?

Priceless, most of us would say. But what happens when you have an old dog and an unknown illness, like an abdominal mass? Your vet runs through several scenarios:

  • Run multiple tests to try to identify the problem. That would cost of over a grand, and not involve treatment. If we’re lucky, the problem can be determined from only one or two tests. Plus the cost of treatment, whatever that may be.
  • She could do exploratory surgery and remove the mass, but if there were multiple tumors, then she would euthanize your dog.
  • Or she could just make him comfortable, which may last only a few weeks.

How far do you go down the rabbit hole? Continue reading

Raw Dog Food—is it right for Your Dog?

Let your dog decide

Feeding your dog raw food is a fairly new concept based on what dogs ate naturally in the wild. Modern technology changes much faster than anatomy, which may take many hundreds of years to adapt to dietary changes. Dog eating

This trend to feed natural foods based on a dogs ancestral diet is similar to people going back to natural foods after more than a half century of eating a processed diet that contributed to many illnesses. Continue reading

Blindness Temporarily Thwarted

Buffy, my one-eyed cocker spaniel, acted normal on Sunday morning, even asking me to throw her ball. But ten minutes later, she stood still with her head down. She stepped cautiously forward and bumped her nose into the bathroom door, then the wall, then the corner. She sniffed everything. I waved my hand in front of her face. She blinked once, likely feeling the air moving. But her eye showed no movement. Continue reading

My Senior Dog has more Energy than Last Year

Buffy & Chipper with Welly Tails Senior Dog Care product

Buffy (left) and Chipper (right) with their Senior Dog Care product.

Chipper, my twelve year-old cocker spaniel, has more energy when we go for walks than he did

this spring. He often leads the way as we walk around our neighborhood (as long as interesting scents don’t distract him), and he now chases squirrels—something he hasn’t done in years. Continue reading

Can Pets Prevent Suicide?

“Everyone thinks of committing suicide at some time,” my walking partner said as we settled into a steady pace for the 5K Wauk for Suicide Prevention and Awareness this past Saturday.  We had both known people who have attempted and some who had succeeded at committing suicide.

Cocker spaniel giving author a hug

Buffy giving me a hug.

Continue reading