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Short Leash: A Memoir of Dog Walking and Deliverance Paperback – August 1, 2013
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"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." Bark Magazine
Named an "Editor's Pick" from New Pages.com
"An Indie Groundbreaking Memoir:" Independent Publisher
From the Back Cover
-Meredith Hall, author of The New York Times bestseller Without a Map
"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.
"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.
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I related to this beautiful memoir on so many levels. I am roughly the same age as the author and am from Ohio. I well understood her cultural references to that time and place. I always wanted to hitchhike out to California when I was 18. I always wanted to hang out with the bands. I shared many of her issues of self doubt and self degradation over the decades. Many baby boomer women did and still do struggle with those issues. I also was a Buddhist back in those days and was stunned to read about the mala. I discovered I still have my long forgotten mala from the 1980's and decided to dust it off and display it.
Janice's descriptions of nature are absolutely breathtaking. I truly felt like I was on every walk with she and Barney. Short Leash also masterfully braids her life story from childhood to adulthood and the major traumas along the way. I cheered for her healing that took place over the chapters and was there in the room when she put Barney down. Her bond with Barney was palpable and he became very real to me.
Deeply personal and touching, I could not LOVE this book anymore. Highly recommend.
So what I like in a book is the middle way--some humor, some pathos, some sadness, and a lesson learned the hard way that doesn't hit you over the head or take the easy way out. Short Leash, A Memoir of Dog Walking and Deliverance is that kind of book. On the surface, it's a simple story--a traumatized woman, a lovable but damaged dog named Barney and a bunch of walks in a beautiful park by the Chesapeake Bay. But minute by minute I got sucked into this story because it's so well written that I began to change in real time along with the author and her dog--something that rarely happens while reading and only happens to me when a book is so relatable, so honest and written by a person so gifted that they can make their life seem like one that I lived though.
The descriptions of Barney and Janice's roads less traveled are among some of the best nature writing I've ever read. You won't get out of the woods easy with this book, but the trip is worth it. Just beautiful.
After a dear friend lent me this book, I liked it so much that I kept it and bought another copy to give back to her.