When Julie Barton’s depression hit its peak in the spring of 1996, it was a golden retriever puppy named Bunker who helped her see the positive side of life again. Here Barton, now 42 and author of the upcoming memoir “Dog Medicine” (Penguin Books, out Tuesday), tells The Post’s LINDSAY PUTNAM the astonishing tale of the dog who saved her life.

I barely made it through the front door of my Upper East Side apartment when I collapsed on the floor. For months I had felt increasingly depressed — warped thoughts such as “Nobody loves you, you’re worthless, kill yourself” flooded my mind — and it finally culminated in my inability to do anything, even to move.

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I lay there for a day before I called my mom, managing between sobs to tell her: “Something happened. I think I had a breakdown or something.”

“I’m coming to get you,” she told me. “I’m getting in the car. You’re coming home.”

Within 24 hours I had quit my publishing job, packed up all my belongings and moved back home to Ohio. My parents sent me to a psychiatrist, who diagnosed me with major depression and put me on Zoloft.

But when I got home from that first appointment, I thought there was something else that could help heal me: a puppy.

When I was a kid, the deepest peace I found was with my childhood dog. I would take him to my room and think, “This being loves me no matter what.” I felt so lonely that I believed just having a companion would help.

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