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.
“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
“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
- 2015 Sarton Women's Memoir Award, Finalist
- 2014 Nautilus Award
- 2014 Eric Hoffer Award, First Runner Up