Category Archives: Dog Book Reviews

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.



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

Soul of an Octopus

By Sy Montgomery

You might think a book on octopuses would be the farthest from my list of book reviews about dogs and the  environment, but octopuses are very smart, inquisitive, and have individual personalities. In many ways, the octopuses at the aquarium can act as pets, remembering people who interact with them and express their feelings by blowing water at those they don’t like. They enjoy getting their heads petted, and playing, much like a dog.

Soul of an Octopus book Continue reading

Thunder Dog – The True Story of a Blind Man, his Guide Dog & the Triumph of Trust – A Book Review

Few of us know what it’s like to be blind or even know a blind person. Just imagine being blind in today’s world, the challenges, but also the advantages provided by technology, and more acceptance of guide dogs by the public.

Blind people today can do almost anything if they are willing to try, and Michael Hingson tried everything. Continue reading

The Dog Year—A Book Review

I met Ann Garvin when she gave an enthusiastic and funny keynote address at the UW Madison Writer’s Institute in 2015. As an exercise physiology nurse turned novelist, her stories intrigued me with her sense of humor. Her book, The Dog Year, grabbed my heart and eyes with a photo of a dog on the cover. I met Ann again a year later at the Chicago Writer’s Conference, where she gave me pointers on how to pitch an agent for the book I am currently writing.

The Dog Year is not directly about dogs but uses them as ancillary characters to help Dr. Lucy Peterman and her friends heal from various emotional traumas. Dogs are great therapists, which Lucy discovered after she decided to keep an abandoned d Continue reading

Book Review: Through Frankie’s Eyes

A Dachshund in a wheelchair on the book cover grabbed at my heart.  About fifteen years ago, I too had owned a dog that needed a wheel chair due to osteosarcoma, a fast-growing bone cancer.

Was the author’s experience similar to mine? How did she deal with the constraints of a wheel chair?  I had to find out. Continue reading

Book Review: Katie Up and Down the Hall by Glenn Plaskin

“A cocker,” I exclaimed, as I looked out the car window at the neighboring car during a traffic jam.   My boyfriend slammed his foot on the brakes, thinking my outburst signaled impending danger as we passed through Hubbard’s Cave in downtown Chicago. That was his inauguration into my world of dogs, especially cocker and springer spaniels. At that time I was living without a dog, alone in an apartment and in desperate need of a dog. Continue reading

Book Review: Pack of Two by Caroline Knapp

Caroline Knapp has put into words many feelings that I share regarding several of my relationships with dogs. Words I had not heard before about the deep relationship a dog can provide—not just any dog, but a special bond that forms especially with dogs we have had for a long time or have had during critical periods in our lives. Continue reading

Book Review: The Dog Who Lived (and So Will I)

The Dog Who Lived (and So Will I) by Teresa J. Rhyne, 2012 by Sourcebooks, Inc.

This #1 New York Times bestseller memoir is a love story on multiple levels. First Teresa acquires Seamus, a beagle rescue, who won over her heart and that of her ’boyfriend’, Chris. I use the term boyfriend in quotes, since Teresa didn’t want a serious relationship with Chris, who was much younger, and she had been burned twice by divorce. Continue reading