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Short Leash: A Memoir of Dog Walking and Deliverance

Short Leash: A Memoir of Dog Walking and Deliverance

4.6 9
by Janice Gary

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Janice Gary never walked alone without a dog - a big dog. Once, she was an adventurer, a girl who ran off to California with big dreams and hopes of leaving her past behind. But after a brutal rape, her youthful bravado vanished, replaced by a crippling need for safety. When she rescues a gangly Lab-Rottweiler pup,Gary is sure she’s found her


Janice Gary never walked alone without a dog - a big dog. Once, she was an adventurer, a girl who ran off to California with big dreams and hopes of leaving her past behind. But after a brutal rape, her youthful bravado vanished, replaced by a crippling need for safety. When she rescues a gangly Lab-Rottweiler pup,Gary is sure she’s found her biggest protector yet. But after Barney is attacked by a vicious dog, he becomes a clone of his attacker, trying to kill any dog that comes near him. Walking with Barney is impossible. Yet walking without him is unthinkable.
    After years of being exiled by her terror and Barney’s defensiveness, Janice risks taking her dog to a park near the Chesapeake Bay. There, she begins the messy, lurching process of walking into her greatest fears. As the leash of the past unravels, Barney sheds the defensive behaviors that once shackled him and Gary steps out of the self-imposed isolation that held her captive for three decades. Beautifully written, Short Leash is much more than a “dog story” or a book about recovering from trauma. It is a moving tale of love and loss, the journey of a broken soul finding itsway toward wholeness.

Editorial Reviews

The Bark Magazine
"Pema Chodron has said that the best way to deal with fear is to lean into it, diffusing its effect by letting it inform you and staying present. Suffering the after-effects of traumatizing attacks, Gary and her dog Barney leaned into their fears and in doing so, freed themselves from them. An inspiring and uncompromisingly honest story."
Independent Publisher
"Short Leash… isn't quite a dog book—even though the title and the cover picture both relate to a big, lovable black lab named Barney. No, Short Leash is instead an impossibly beautiful portrait of two damaged souls and how they lean on one another to heal, hurt, and find their way back to happiness after unspeakable tragedy."
From the Publisher

“Janice Gary achieves a remarkable feat, taking the reader on a vast inward journey toward freedom from the effects of real trauma in her youth by walking her dog in a public park. With Barney by her side, she faces her deepest fears and discovers the grace of the natural world, the power of love, and the potency of her own strengths. There were innumerable times when I was just knocked over by this book. This is a stunningly beautiful story told by a gifted writer.”

Meredith Hall, author of Without a Map

“Short Leash is about finding the courage to hope despite what happened in the past and what will happen to those you love in the future. It’s about discovering that it’s never too late to grow out of pain and into strength. Plus, there is the dog. Reading this made me snuggle mine for a very long time.”

Susan Kushner Resnick, author of You Saved Me, Too and Goodbye Wifes and Daughters

“Gary’s book reminds me not only of what dogs bring to our lives—their warmth, strength, and acceptance of the imperfect humans they live with—but of what words are for. The words in Short Leash leap off the page, carving Barney, his imperfect human, and their extraordinary landscape deep into my memory. Luminously spiritual, unflinchingly honest, this book re-makes its genres into a profound meditation.”

Louise Bernikow, author of Dreaming in Libro: How a Good Dog Tamed a Bad Woman and Bark If You Love Me

“Gary’s book reminds me not only of what dogs bring to our lives—their warmth, strength, and acceptance of the imperfect humans they live with—but of what words are for. The words in Short Leash leap off the page, carving Barney, his imperfect human, and their extraordinary landscape deep into my memory. Luminously spiritual, unflinchingly honest, this book re-makes its genres into a profound meditation.”

Louise Bernikow, author of Dreaming in Libro: How a Good Dog Tamed a Bad Woman and Bark If You Love Me

“Sometimes redemption comes in the form of a rambunctious four-legged creature. Such is the case with Gary’s debut memoir. In this beautifully written book, the author’s beloved dog Barney tugs and ultimately drags his emotionally damaged human companion through parks and paths to an inner place of strength, joy, and freedom from her painful past.”

Mira Bartók, author of the National Book Critics Circle award-winning memoir, The Memory Palace

Product Details

Michigan State University Press
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A Memoir of Dog Walking and Deliverance

By Janice Gary

Michigan State University Press

Copyright © 2013 Janice Gary
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-61186-072-6




The engine is off. The seatbelt unbuckled. The windows all rolled up. There's nothing left to do except get out of the car. But I don't. Instead, I sit there, staring out the windshield at the woods beyond the parking lot, my right hand squeezed into a fist around fourteen keys, a string of beads spelling "S.O.B.," a solid brass circle, and a Big Boy juggling a hamburger in his chubby plastic hand.

Most of these keys are so old I can hardly remember what they unlock—an office at a job I no longer have, a house in a city I don't live in anymore. It doesn't matter. What matters is the weight, the heft of the brass and steel, the fact that this key ring once was taken from my hands in the basement of a church by a self-defense instructor and held up for all the women in the room to see. "Take a look," she said. "Now this is an example of an excellent weapon."

It's also a liability. My purse is ungodly heavy. Most of my coat pockets have holes in them. The ignition tumbler on my car has had to be replaced. Twice. "You need to lighten this thing up," the mechanic told me.

Not gonna happen.

Outside, leaves tumble across a browning meadow. Trees bow and bend in the breeze. In the backseat, a ninety-five pound dog paces back and forth, his tail thumping against the cloth seatbacks in a kind of canine Morse code: Wow! Oh wow! The park! I can't believe we're here.

I can't believe it either. I've been avoiding the place for years.

Walking a dog in a park should be simple. But for me and Barney, there's nothing simple about it. We're handicapped, the two of us, in ways that are invisible. To see us walking down the road, you would never guess that the smiling black Lab at the end of the leash is a fur-covered time bomb or that the athletic-looking woman behind him is incapable of walking without a four-legged crutch. There would be no way of knowing that if a dog comes too close to Barney, he turns into a killing machine. Or that if I find myself in an isolated area or an empty street late at night, my mind enters a war zone where the enemies are everywhere and nowhere.

Barney sticks his head between the bucket seats and gently nudges my shoulder. "Alright alright," I say. "I get the message."

He's the reason I'm here, after all.

I stash the keys and a canister of Mace in my pocket and reach back to hook the leash onto Barney's collar. As soon as the door opens, he leaps onto the tarmac, pulling the retractable cord out to its full length so he can anoint a small bush at the edge of the lot. We set off in the direction of the picnic tables, following the tree line abutting the meadow. While he runs as far as the leash will let him, I move slowly, straining to catch any sound that will indicate the presence of a person or a dog. Birdcalls float through the air. Leaves scuttle across the ground. We're alone. At least I think so. No one else around except for me and my dog-shaped shadow.

With Barney leading the way, we walk a few yards and then a few yards more, and before I know it we're almost to the picnic area. My steps are lighter, my breathing easier, when, suddenly, I hear the sound of shuffling leaves coming from the direction of the woods. Panic shoots through every nerve ending. I reach for the Mace in my coat pocket. As my fingers wrap around the canister, a squirrel darts out of the woods.

For a moment, all I can do is stand there, shock mixing with disbelief. Jesus, I'm thinking. Spooked by a squirrel. The animal stops several yards away and watches Barney and me as he nervously gnaws on an acorn. His eyes keep flitting back and forth, and it's obvious what's on his mind: Am I safe? Should I stay? Or should I run? I study his face, noting the flat eyes set wide apart so he can watch for predators on either side.

"No need to worry," I say to him. His eyes dart to the left. To the right. He's not buying it. And I don't blame him.

We turn toward the meadow, leaving the squirrel to his foraging. While Barney stops to sniff the leaves of a small holly, I take a deep breath and look around, amazed at how beautiful this place is, even on a gray day. My heart is still beating from the squirrel panic, but I hear the breeze moving through the treetops, shoosh, shoosh, like a mother calming a baby. My breathing slows down. I slow down.

A few minutes later, I'm about to pull the keys out of my pocket to head back to the car when I'm stopped by the slow-motion dance of a leaf in the wind. Even though the sky is cloudy, even though the leaves are yellowed and dull and beginning to curl at the edges, there is a profound beauty to this place. As I stand there, I hear branches dropping, squirrels running. And something else, something I haven't heard for a long time: the sound of silence in my head.

For a moment, I drink in the quiet like water, like a woman who has been thirsty for ages. The wind washes over the leaves—a great wave signaling something coming. Not a bad thing. Not a good thing. Just change.

I usually don't welcome fall in Maryland. In fact, I dread it. As the light wanes, the dark begins pressing in against me. Sometimes it takes over.

This time though, it's different. The leaves aren't falling, they're twirling and gliding, diving off branches like acrobats without a net. The sky is cloudy but alive, filled with birds moving in practiced groups among the treetops. Squirrels chide each other to get moving. The park is readying itself for a season of quiet. It feels like I'm being readied, too, though for what I'm not sure.

As we make our way toward the parking lot, Barney pulls ahead (an alpha habit I have tolerated, even encouraged, over the years), steering us back to the edge of the woods. When we approach the tree line, I pull him back. He looks at the woods, then at me, his eyes pleading, telegraphing the words he cannot say: There's important information here; we must go on. He's trying so hard to be understood that I can't refuse him. Despite my doubts about moving away from the meadow, I let his leash out and follow along. While he stops and sniffs a fringe of sticker bushes, my eyes wander into the woods. The wine-like scent of fermenting leaves and earth overwhelms my senses, and before I know it, I'm reeling like a drunken sailor on the decks to another time, another forest, and the roads and towns beyond it where there were no leashes, no collars, and no limits to where I would go.

When I was a girl, I dreamed away whole afternoons in the woods, setting up household in trees, listening to the symphonies of streams, making pretend castles out of termite-infested stumps. I looked into the soft brown eyes of deer before they ran, saw fox slink into bushes, watched snakes slither across sun-warmed rocks. When the sound of guns popped in the distance, I was scared only for the deer, never for myself. Nearby, acres of apple and pear orchards bloomed in the spring, and when fall came I picked as much as I could eat, stepping around the bees that swarmed in great numbers over rotted fruit on the ground. Later, I climbed out of bedroom windows to walk under the stars, rode around town in hippie vans, traveled out west with two pairs of jeans and $70.00 in my pocket. I camped under velvet skies in the desert, crashed in seedy apartments in strange cities, bummed cigarettes, bummed money, bummed rides with questionable men, and rode off with only the clothes on my back and some weed in my pocket. I was wildly, willingly, stupidly free.

And now, look at me. Afraid to walk in a park with my dog.

I'm a woman on a very short leash.


FALL 2001

Barney and I return to the park the next day and the day after that. And we keep coming back until three weeks of walks have piled up behind us. One morning, as we drive into the park, I see a new banner on the entrance gazebo announcing the upcoming Halloween Barkin' Bash. It's a dog party, complete with costume contests, prize giveaways, and free treats, but it's a party we can't attend. I make a mental note to stay far away from the park next Saturday.

When we get out of the car, the air smells of apples and earth. As usual, I head toward the picnic area, but Barney reels his leash out in the opposite direction, hot on the trail of a good, fresh scent. Since there's no one else around, I figure what the heck—why not let him go where he wants? Nose to the ground, he sniffs his way across the field to a concrete drainage ditch at the side of the road, no doubt tracking some critter who has made his home in the pipe. While Barney sticks his head in the culvert, my eyes wander to the forest across the road where the trees sway back and forth in unison like a line of dancers.

Several minutes go by as Barney investigates the sewer pipe. The movement of the trees is hypnotic; it's as if they're beckoning to me with their twiggy fingers. I step into the road toward the woods. Then I take a few more steps. Barney, done with his inspection, walks right past me, his leash unspooling enough for him to cross over to the other side. Without even thinking about it, I follow. And just like that, our walking grounds have expanded.

Standing on the grassy strip between the road and the forest, I'm rather stunned at what has just happened. Before now, I've been careful not to venture beyond the small patch of meadow just beyond the park entrance. Day after day, it's been the same routine: pulling into the same parking lot, parking in the same parking space, walking in the same picnic area. Now that I'm across the street, I see things I've never seen before: a long slope of woods, the outline of a picnic pavilion in the distance, mountain laurels sparkling in the sun.

The road is six feet wide at best, but for the past three weeks it might as well have been the Grand Canyon. It's startling to realize how boxed in I've become, relying—insisting, actually—on the worn patterns of my habits to move me through the days. There's nothing wrong with indulging in the same routines every day: drinking your favorite tea at the same time or having the same breakfast every morning. But I'm well aware that some of my routines go beyond preference or habit, often entering another realm altogether, like when I have to fold my clothes just so or else; or when I can't go back inside my house once the door is locked or else. If I don't obey these ridiculous commands, something bad will happen. Or something good won't.

There is a desperate, obsessive quality to these thoughts. I know it, but that doesn't mean I can let them go. Sometimes, I'm held captive by my own thoughts for days, weeks, until I fight back and refuse to obey the whispering warnings in my head. Coming to the park for the first time was one of those acts of defiance. And coming back the next day was another.

Barney stops to examine a pine branch while the woods unspool before me. As I stare into space, my mind wanders back to when I thought nothing of leaping across continents, much less a road—any road, anywhere. I was a girl running as far as possible from her past. A girl who believed that such a thing was even possible.

In the spring of 1972, my freshman year at Ohio University had just ended. Out of forty-five credits taken that year, thirty had a grade of "PR," which meant pending requirements, which meant I spent more time smoking pot, writing songs, and hanging out in the southern Ohio countryside than in class. Not that I cared. I wanted to be a musician—a singer, a rock star. It seems foolish now—not exactly the best career move for a young woman—but then it felt like the right thing to do, the first step of a trajectory I had been planning my whole life. I moved back home for the summer and tried to keep up my hippie lifestyle, smoking pot in the bathroom with the fan on and listening to Procol Harum and Rolling Stones records for hours on end. At night, after my mother had passed out on the downstairs couch and my sister and brother were asleep, I'd slip out the window of my second floor bedroom and hitch rides into town. When a friend invited me to join her on a short trip out west to California, I joined her, bringing only the money in my pocket and the clothes on my back. When I got back, I returned to Athens and Ohio University, but only to live with friends and to make up a year's worth of incompletes.

The following summer, I found myself living at home again. My mother bought me an old Ford Galaxie, which I drove back and forth from the Cincinnati suburbs to Clifton, home of the University of Cincinnati and the town's resident hippie population. I spent long, lazy afternoons there, hanging out with musicians and periodically crashing in their roach-infested apartments. I briefly considered returning to Athens. Then, I came up with a better plan. I would move to California, find a band, and climb my way to the stars. All I needed was a little start-up cash.

When September came around, instead of registering for classes, I took a job waitressing at a Perkins Pancake House off I-71 outside Cincinnati. For five long months, from midnight until 6 a.m., I served platters of eggs and waffles to truckers, drunks, and insomniacs until enough money was saved to put the plan in motion. By February, I was ready. There was only one thing left to do.

Locking my bedroom door from the prying eyes of my mother and younger siblings, I cleared off the top of the nightstand next to my canopy bed and placed a candle, three brass coins, and the I Ching/Book of Changes on it. Rubbing the coins between my palms, I silently repeated a single question before flinging the brass disks onto the table where they skittered across the painted surface before settling to rest, two face-side up and one blank-side up: young yang.

I had discovered the coins in a small shop in San Francisco's Chinatown the summer before. According to the sages, the responses from the Book of Changes were of such import that they could save one from a lifetime of folly. I wanted to believe that was true, but consulting the pages of the I Ching was more an act of willfulness than of faith—a desperate attempt to influence forces beyond my control, the same forces that had already buffeted me around like a kite in a March sky.

Four years earlier, my father had died. His death was a sudden and shocking event that set in motion a series of events that I could never have predicted. We moved from New Jersey to Ohio to be near my aunt. My mother, who had never handled the family finances, was suddenly flush with cash from my father's life insurance. She bought a new house, a new car, a new everything. Loosened from my father's tight grip and supported by my mother's loose purse, I set out to make a new life of my own. Out went the Villager clothes and polite good girl manners. In came the ripped jeans, ironed hair, and hippie lifestyle. It was as if all the fences had been taken down around me and I was a wild horse, not concerned or even cognizant of the dangers of running off into the world unbridled. But as much as I tried to divert myself from the truth, it was there, lying just beneath the surface of my fuck-you persona: I was flying blind. And I knew it.

I threw the coins five more times, marking a solid line for yang and an open line for yin in my journal, until there were six lines stacked up over one another, representing one of the 64 hexagrams of the I Ching. The question I asked was this: Should I move to California? The answer was Hexagram 36: Ming I/Darkening of the Light. Injury.

Not exactly what I was hoping for.

The image aligned with Hexagram 36 was that of the sun sinking below the earth. The sequence read: Expansion will certainly encounter resistance and injury. Hence there follows the hexagram of Darkening of the Light. Darkening means damage, injury.

I could feel my heart sinking like the sun in the hexagram. It didn't sound like a good omen. But maybe I hadn't read it right. Like most I Ching revelations, the pithy commentary in the hexagram contradicted itself with each line, foretelling of disaster in one but perseverance in the next. I combed the lines—one representing King Wen, another Prince Chi, all battling for control and confusing the hell out of me. No matter how I interpreted it, though, most of the lines foretold of disaster. It was a mistake. It had to be. The truth was, I had already made my decision. All I wanted was for the I Ching to back me up.

I repeated the question and threw the coins again. This time, I got Hexagram Number 4: Meng/Youthful Folly.

The young fool seeks me. At the first oracle I inform him. If he asks two or three times, it is importunity. If he importunes, I give him no information. Perseverance follows.

For a moment I sat there stunned, as if someone had just slapped me across the face. How could a stupid book and stupid fake ching coins know that this was my second try? I looked around the room half expecting to see someone floating in the air above me. I read on. The first line spoke of humiliation, as did another one four lines down. But the fifth line said child-like folly brings good fortune. And the second line stated to know how to take women brings good fortune. I didn't know about the taking women part, but the line mentioned fortune, so it couldn't be all bad.

Excerpted from SHORT LEASH by Janice Gary. Copyright © 2013 by Janice Gary. Excerpted by permission of Michigan State University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

Louise Bernikow
Gary's book reminds me not only what dogs bring to our lives - their warmth, strength and acceptance of the imperfect humans they live with - but of what words are for. The words in Short Leash leap off the page, carving Barney, his imperfect human and their extraordinary landscape deep into my memory. Luminously spiritual, unflinchingly honest, this book re-makes it genre into a profound meditation. —Louise Bernikow, author of Dreaming in Libro: How a Good Dog Tamed a Bad Woman and Bark if You Love Me.
Mira Bartok
Sometimes redemption comes in the form of a rambunctious four-legged creature. Such is the case with Short Leash: A Memoir of Dog Walking and Deliverance. In this beautifully written book, the author's beloved dog Barney drags his emotionally damaged human companion through the parks and paths to an inner place of strength, joy and freedom from her painful past. —Mira Bartok, author of the National Book Critics Circle Award winning memoir, The Memory Palace.
Susan Kushner Resnick
Short Leash is about finding the courage to hope despite what happened in the past and what will happen to those you love in the future. It's about discovering that it's never too late to grow out of pain and into strength. The writing is beautiful. Plus, there is the dog. Reading this made me snuggle mind for a very long time. —Susan Kushner Resnick, author of You Saved Me, Too.
Meredith Hall
"There were innumerable times when I was just knocked over by this book. This is a stunningly beautiful story told by a gifted writer." --Meredith Hall, author of N.Y. Times Bestseller Without a Map

Meet the Author

Janice Gary’s writing has been featured in numerous journals and anthologies. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Goucher College and is a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

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Short Leash: A Memoir of Dog Walking and Deliverance 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Tamera Lawrence for Readers' Favorite Man’s best friend? Or perhaps a woman’s? The common dog has filled the void in so many lives. This is especially true in the case of Janice Gary, a woman with a troubled past and hesitant stride. Janice Gary was raped in her early twenties and her emotional scars hold close to her heart as she carries on through life. Although Janice is married, she still has room for another companion. This one comes with big paws and a rambunctious personality. Finding Barney as a pup, Janice opens her heart to the canine and the two become a team of sorts. After Barney is attacked by another dog, Barney becomes agitated by other dogs and an aggressive nature takes root. This causes a dilemma for Janice, who now has to contend with keeping Barney under control during their daily walks and suffer comments by bystanders whenever Barney shows his aggressive side. But along their daily walks, the pair finds healing in their daily ritual and common terrain. Short Leash by Janice Gary is a heartfelt tale of how one woman copes with the troubles in her past as she finds peace in the solitude of walking and the loyalty of a special dog who accompanies her. It is evident in the author’s writing that she poured her heart and soul into sharing her pain and the renewal of her spirit during her journey. Dog lovers will appreciate this vividly written tale of Barney and his owner; the good, bad, and sometime humorous aspects of dog ownership as well as the eventual loss of that special friend. Taking a dog for a walk in the park has never been so appealing or rewarding. Great book by a talented author.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings A memoir of sorts that chronicles one woman's journey in becoming a writer and overcoming past fears and hurdles, while having a loyal four legged companion by her side through it all.  Set in Annapolis, MD, I loved being close to the action and being able to imagine the weather and the park that she spent quite a bit of time in. A little on the artsy side and chronicled the author's many feelings and thoughts, but enjoyable for this dog fan!  Janice Gary had quite a few tragedies at a young age and I am not sure if even in adulthood she had dealt with them all.  Through rescuing her companion and eventually nursing him through many ailments, I think she found some of the healing that she needed.
bookchickdi More than 1 year ago
Janice Gary always loved dogs. The day she found Barney a Lab/Rottweiler mix running loose in the road she was not in a good place in her life. She had moved from near Washington DC to rural Georgia, following her husband as he got a new job. She had left behind a support group she liked for adult children of alcoholics (ACOA), didn't have a job herself, and had no friends. She didn't know it, but Barney would become a big part of her life.  When Janice was just 20 years old, she left home and moved to San Francisco to become a musician. She didn't know anyone, the days of free love had ended, and where she ended up in Berkeley was not such a great place. One night she was attacked and raped while trying to find a friend's apartment. The attack changed her entire life; she became fearful of being anywhere alone. Eventually she moved back home. While walking Barney one day, he was attacked by a dog. His response to being attacked was that Barney became an aggressive dog. Anytime he saw a dog, he would attack. He didn't like people coming too close either. It made walking Barney very difficult; they couldn't walk where most people did- parks, waterfronts, neighborhoods. That meant Janice had to walk Barney in deserted areas, which exacerbated her memories of being attacked herself.  One vet thought that Janice's fear was triggering Barney's aggression. So twenty years after she was attacked, Janice went back to Berkeley and tried to come to terms with what happened to her. As she walked the street where the attack happened, she thought "the shadow of the past walked with me wherever I went." At the age of 48, Janice applied to and was accepted into a writing program. She had decided that this was something she needed to pursue, and let her fears go. I am in awe of women who can do this. I have a friend who started a whole new life in her 40s, went back to college, got her degree and is now in a career that she loves. Janice even won an award at her graduation ceremony for a personal essay she wrote about her father, who committed suicide when she was teen. As Barney aged, he had more medical problems. Anyone who has owned a dog knows how this goes. They made countless visits to vets and specialty vets (I didn't even know there was such a thing as a 'canine dermatologist'). This section of the book really touched my heart, as we had a very sick basset hound and went through many of the same emotions as Janice and her husband. Short Leash is such a personal book, but it speaks to so many of us. Anyone who has to overcome a trauma, anyone who has loved a dog, anyone who had a tough childhood will find something to identify with here. Janice Gary writes honestly and from her heart, and this book moved me deeply.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a precious book about a woman's soul and a dog's heart. I you meditate, if you love nature, if you love dogs and interpersonal journeys or if you just really enjoy an amazingly written book - this is a treasure you need to add to your book collection.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found myself on a "short leash" while reading this book in that I just could not put it down until I read the very last word on the very last page. Ms. Gary tells her story with chilling honesty and a quick wit.  At the same time, she brings the reader along with her on her journey as she walks her dog Barney while taking her own baby steps to move beyond the tragedies of her past. I feel like a voyeur who has peeked into her soul. This is an exquisitely written and inspiring book that I would recommend to all (and I am not a dog lover).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the first book that I have rad by Janice Gary.   I just finished reading it and am so glad that I picked it up at my local Barnes & Noble. It is an amazing true story of the journey a woman takes from the pit of desperation and despair to a place of beauty and strength with the help of her dog Barney.   The book takes you on a journey that awakens the soul. I am so grateful for the courage this writer has to so honestly share her journey in such an inspirational way. This is not a self help book but I have already found that her technique to connect with the 5 senses has already proved Paul in my own journey. I love this book and can't wait to read Janice Gary's next one.  Allen T, Vermont 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First of all, after looking in the Memoir section forever looking for this book, I was led to the Pet Section.  Yeah, there is a dog on the cover,, and there is a dog  in the story, but a how to walk your dog book this ain;t.   It is a memoir, and a powerful one at that,.  I was blown away by the masterful lyrical writing of this compelling story.  I will read it over and over again, just so I don't miss a single lesson this bookhas to offer.  And  by the way, what is Drugs, Sex, and Rock n Roll doing in the Pet Section?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A stunning, transcendent memoir. Short Leash shows how the mystery and power of love for a damaged animal becomes the a new foundation for an equally damaged human being. Transformative and beautifully written, it reveals how a park and its paths enabled one woman to discover a luminous road from trauma to healing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Like Ms. Gary, dogs and nature have saved my life. But even if you're one of those who have not experienced this kind of transformation firsthand, you will find yourself falling in love with this book--with Barney the dog, with the lush yet down-to-earth description of the changing seasons and how they affected both dog and woman, and you will cheer for Ms. Gary, her dog, the painful lives they patched up by facing the dark places, and  cry for the honest, no B.S. descriptions of trauma and how it can stick to your life like super glue until you peel it off. My favorite genre is non-fiction, although I'm not a fan of all memoir because I think sometimes it's too self- indulgent but Short Leash looks at the outside world ast the same time it looks at the inside. The book doesn't have a fake bone in it's pages--it's fascination comes from going along on the trip with two beings--a trip that is very relatable and , like life, sometimes funny as well as painful.  This is a book that I will read twice, because it's written so effing well, you'll find yourself going over paragraphs again. Yes, it talks about trauma and a screwed up childhood and a damaged dog and frozen person, but it's really about how we can use the simple things and beings around us--in this case nature and our dogs (yes, I'm a dog lover!) to get us back on the road to a real life. Read it for the dog, stay for the writing and the journey, both of which blew me away.