Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Short Leash: A Memoir of Dog Walking and Deliverance by Janice Gary (4 stars)

About Short Leash: A Memoir of Dog Walking and Deliverance

Paperback: 246 pages
Publisher: Michigan State University Press; 1 edition (August 1, 2013)

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 always walked with a big dog by her side and had ever since being attacked on the streets of Berkley as a young woman. For years, she relied on her beloved Husky to help her navigate the world on her own. Then he succumbed to canine cancer, leaving Janice alone and vulnerable once again. Enter Barney: a goofy, gangly stray Gary discovers wandering loose in a Piggly Wiggly parking lot. With biscuit-sized paws and a big, blocky head, the pup promises to grow into her biggest protector yet. And he does – but after an attack by a vicious dog, Barney becomes overly protective and barely manageable. Walking him anywhere becomes almost impossible; but walking without him is unthinkable.

It’s only when Gary risks bringing Barney to a local park on the Chesapeake Bay that both 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 loses the leash of his own fears. Beautifully written, Short Leash is a moving tale of love and loss, the journey of a broken soul finding its way toward wholeness.

“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

“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.”–Independent Publisher

“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.”  The Bark Magazine

Named an “Editor’s Pick” from New
Named an “Indie Groundbreaking Memoir:”  Independent Publisher


Sometimes our friends help us see our own needs and issues. In the case of Short Leash, the dear friend is a dog named Barney. He becomes a mirror into the author's soul, and her story of their time together, and their lessons learned, is a poignant one. Beautifully written, Janice Gary bares her soul for all to see in her memoir. And Barney is there every step of the way. 

Both Barney and Gary have suffered attacks that form a dark cloud over their lives, leaving them fearfully walking through life. But together, they form a circle of love and self-awareness... not to mention acceptance of each other.

Be prepared with kleenex for the last few chapters as Barney declines. Yet, in those sad moments, the author finds her own footing. The writing is almost poetic in the way it invokes emotion. I felt like a bystander on the path of their many walks... drawn to this woman and her dog as they made their way. Together.

I highly recommend this memoir to anyone who has had to overcome obstacles, especially if they can credit a dear friend with their salvation. It's not just for dog lovers. That being said, those who adore their canine friends will feel a special connection to this lovely book.

Rating: 4 stars

Janice GaryAbout 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. In between her work and appearances for Short Leash, she blogs at

Thanks to TLC for my review copy.

Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own.

Please visit other stops on Short Leash: A Memoir of Dog Walking and Deliverance blog tour page.


heathertlc said...

I have a copy of this in my purse right now - can't wait to start it!

Thanks for being on the tour.