Review: Short Leash: A Memoir of Dog Walking and Deliverance, by Janice Gary

Short Leash by Janice Gary

About the book, Short Leash

It’s hard to believe that a walk in the park can change a life – let alone two – but for Janice Gary and her dog Barney, that’s exactly what happened.

Gary relied on dogs to help her feel safe when walking on her own ever since being attacked on the streets of Berkeley as a young woman. This solution worked well for years until her canine companion passed on. Grieving, and without the benefit of a guardian, she encounters a stray Lab-Rottweiler puppy in a Piggly Wiggly parking lot and falls for his goofy smile and sweet nature. With his biscuit-sized paws, Barney promises to grow into her biggest protector yet. But fate intervenes when Barney is viciously attacked by another dog just before his first birthday. From that time on, he becomes dog-aggressive. Walking anywhere with Barney is difficult. But for Gary, walking without him is impossible.

It’s only when she risks taking him to a local park that both of their lives change forever. There, Janice faces her deepest fears and discovers the grace of the natural world, the power of love and the potency of her own strengths. And Barney no longer feels the need to attack other dogs. Beautifully written, Short Leash is a moving tale of love and loss, the journey of two broken souls finding their way toward wholeness.

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About the author, Janice Gary

Janice Gary

Janice Gary is the author of Short Leash: A Memoir of Dog Walking and Deliverance, which was chosen as a “Groundbreaking memoir” by Independent Publisher and a New Pages “Editor’s Pick”. She is the recipient of the Christine White Award for Memoir and the Ames Award for Personal Essay. As a writing coach, she helps others writers find their unique voice and stories.

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My Thoughts

Not only do I have three dogs of my own (all rescue mutts), but I actually work in rescue as a shelter-pet evangelist and dog fosterer, so when I was offered the chance to read and review Janice Gary’s book, Short Leash: A Memoir of Dog Walking and Deliverance, I leapt at the opportunity, even though it meant reading a pdf copy.

I’m glad I did, because Janice’s story is one that almost every woman can relate to. While I’ve never been attacked, I know the feeling of vulnerability that comes with being in a dark parking lot, a questionable part of town, the last car on the subway, and I have an active enough imagination that extrapolating what Ms. Gary must have felt is an easy reach for me. I have, however, had one of my dogs attacked, and while I was fortunate in that my own pet was mostly unharmed, I know the fear that comes in that moment when an animal in your care is threatened or injured.

As well, I know the safety that comes from having a big dog. My husband travels a lot, and I feel much more secure knowing that I have 80 pounds of pointer/boxer and 75 pounds of Catahoula/Rottie/Brittany/Aussie at my back should anything happen – and I live in a relatively safe neighborhood. Every dog owner, though, can relate to the canine litmus test: if my dog doesn’t like you, I’m probably better off avoiding you entirely.

But I digress.

Janice Gary tells her story – of being attacked, of losing her canine companion, and of finding a new best friend, and almost losing him, with both candor and finesse. When you read her words, you feel like she’s sitting across the table, sharing a coffee with you, and you want to reach out and hold her hand, or pet Barney’s great, big head.

Her first walk with him had me both shaking with concern and rooting for both human and dog to do well, and my investment in her story only grew the further I read.

This is a memoir, so there isn’t a plot to discuss, and you don’t get to criticize someone’s choices. Instead, I encourage everyone to read this book, because Short Leash is beautiful, heartfelt, and truly inspiring, without ever being insipid. And when you’ve finished reading it, go cuddle your own pups. Don’t have one? Adopt one. Big Black Dogs are the best playmates and walking companions anyone can have, and they’re always the last to be adopted.

Goes well with A cold coke and two hot dogs, one of which you share with your canine companion.

TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a virtual book tour hosted by TLC Book Tours. Click here for the tour page.