Thursday, January 2, 2014

Short Leash by Janice Gary - TLC Book Review

Short Leash by Janice Gary

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

Source? the publisher via TLC Book Tours
**FTC Disclaimer - I received a complimentary copy of Short Leash from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  The review below and the opinions therein are my own and offered without bias.

Why? Short Leash has my name written all over it.  This one was a no-brainer for me. 

What Now?
Just as I did with Following Atticus, I'll loan my copy of Short Leash to my friend Murray so that she can be touched by Barney's life and experience Gary's strength.  Then, Short Leash will be tucked away into the antique desk where my special books live behind the glass windows.

Golden Lines

We continue down the road, Barney's ears flapping in the breeze, a big smile plastered across his face.  It's odd, but walking into this wind - plowing through it head-on instead of cowering before it - I feel something warm and certain stirring in the deepest part of my being. (15)

He brings me back to the present, back to earth, which is a good thing for a person who has trouble staying grounded. (35)

Maybe it's time to see myself as clearly as I see my dog.  Perhaps it's possible to be inherently flawed and still have a decent life. (73)

I've spent three-quarters of my life worrying about what will happen in the future, and three-quarters of that has never happened. (109)

I think back to Dr. Kummel's words, "He's only trying to protect you."  Maybe my fear has been triggering his aggression all these years. (164)

This is America.  As a woman, I can drive a car, hold a job, divorce a husband if he abandons me, and take a lover without fearing for my life.  But I cannot walk into the woods or even down a city street with the same confidence as a man. (178)

I am not good at this "being present" stuff.   I can only stay in the moment for a few seconds at a time.  But in this moment, I am here with my dog.  And for now, that's enough. (200)

Barney and I have found our way through this park by placing one foot and one paw in front of another.  These three hundred and thirty-three acres have been our wilderness, our wildness, as Thoreau would say, unexplored territory whose treasures could only be found by walking into the unknown. (209)

With alarming clarity I realize that I haven't just been walking with Barney all this time, I've been fighting.  The park has been my battleground, the rain, the wind, the ice, my honorable foes.  Not letting excuses win, not giving in to willful weakness, not heeding the voices that have said, "It's too hot, too cold, you're too tired," has built something in me I didn't know I had - determination, a strong heart.  Clear intention. (215)

Summary from Amazon

"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."

What I Liked

Gary's mixture of psychology, feminism, recovery, theology, biology, canine behavior, and life.

Her words and her honesty - Gary's voice is here; I feel like I know her deeply from reading Short Leash.

The lyrical writing - I wanted to read slowly, just to experience the flow of Gary's words, to see what she saw, think as she thought and then to put it all back together again.

Barney - I'm a dog lover, so I easily forgave him for his shortcomings just as Gary did.  

What I Didn't Like

Nada.  While I'm not typically a re-reader, Short Leash is a book that I might very well revisit just for the experience.

Overall Recommendation

Anyone who has ever rescued/loved an animal and has been rescued/loved right back will enjoy Short Leash. 

The Author

Other Stops on the Tour

Monday, December 16th:  Book Club Classics!
Monday, December 16th:  Shelf Pleasure – author guest post
Tuesday, December 17th:  The Book Wheel
Wednesday, December 18th:  BookNAround
Thursday, December 19th:  Bound By Words
Friday, December 20th:  Dog Spelled Forward
Monday, December 23rd:  Patricia’s Wisdom
Thursday, December 26th:  Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Monday, December 30th:  Bookchickdi
Thursday, January 2nd:  Peppermint Ph.D.
Monday, January 6th:  Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, January 7th:  Teena in Toronto
Wednesday, January 8th:  Bibliotica
Thursday, January 9th:  Book-alicious Mama
Friday, January 10th:  Kritter’s Ramblings
Monday, January 13th:  Book Dilettante
Tuesday, January 14th:  My Bookshelf
Wednesday, January 15th:  Mom in Love with Fiction
Thursday, January 16th:  Suko’s Notebook


  1. This definitely sounds like a book to reread! What a wonderful, moving story.

    Thanks for being on the tour.