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SHORT LEASH: A Memoir of Dog Walking and Deliverance ~Janice Gray

SHORT LEASH is a dog story, a memoir, and a lesson in recovery and strength.  This is a story about how a confident, spirited, young girl becomes a fearful, anxiety ridden adult, who step by step unravels her fears, releases the past, and finds her voice and wholeness. It is a powerful read in the form of a series of essays about discoveries, self -disclosure and a traumatized dog that needs love and kindness.

Janice and her partner move to Savannah, Georgia for his work and in the grocery store parking lot a puppy bounds into the author’s life.  It is a black Labrador and Rottweiler mix about 6 months old and no owners can be found.  These two lost individuals adopt each other; a 95 pound dog (eventually) and a 90 pound woman.  After a brutal attack by a dog, Barney becomes increasingly aggressive towards dogs.  After a suicide in her family and a rape, the author becomes increasingly anxious and fearful. Janice and Barney attempt to remain behind the scenes and out of sight; walking in areas where they will not encounter others.

In SHORT LEASH the author informs us that she found Adult Children of Alcoholics for support and courage and she needed to find ways to cope and deal with money issues. She sought help at a rape trauma group in Berkley California which persuades her that this was an act of power grabbing and political importance; she must rise up and go forth.  It takes weeks and weeks for the physical trauma within to heal.  Gray works to hold in all the other feelings and be responsible for her siblings and mother as her father informed her she must.

The descriptive passages of the city park to which this duo finally begins exploring -30 years after the rape, 34 years after the suicide and 8 (?) years after the dog attack, are amazing word paintings of the fear, the landscape, the concern and the psychological discoveries. I had to go back and read some several times just for the sheer pleasure of the words and discoveries.  If you can imagine with each step and trail conquered and traversed, the author tells a life story to herself as she allows the dog to protect her from the fear.  They often hide or run when they encounter other dogs. She walks out each story and meditates on it in order to process and analyze in her journal writing. Barney and Janice are healing and finding recovery as the leash extends and retracts through the beauty of the park.  It is an amazing love story about recovery and change.  And yet, this story and memoir is something we can all do when we walk the dog on a SHORT LEASH.

Janice Gray’s page

I am very fond of memoir these days and I believe many folks will enjoy this good read.


tlc logo  TLC Online Book Tours and the author sent me a proof copy of this book to review. I appreciate the opportunity.

Recommended Reading:
Merle’s Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog  
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle 
The Wisdom To Know The Difference
The Art Of Racing In The Rain

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13 Responses to “SHORT LEASH: A Memoir of Dog Walking and Deliverance ~Janice Gray”

  1. Sara Says:

    Ah, Patricia….you had me with these words:

    “Barney and Janice are healing and finding recovery as the leash extends and retracts through the beauty of the park. It is an amazing love story about recovery and change.”

    I’d like this one because I really believe in the power of healing through animals. Although it is clear both human and dog need healing in this story, it’s also obvious they came together to find this healing.

    Thanks for the excellent review and have a nice holiday.
    Sara recently posted..Gratitude in Four WordsMy Profile

    patricia Reply:

    Thank you for your kind review, this was quite a special book to read and I just did a section a day after walking ZIP. Her sorting process opened up new thoughts for me.

    Thank you very much for the donation and Holiday wishes. Both are greatly appreciated.

  2. Talon Says:

    Sounds like an interesting read, Patricia. I’m always amazed by the impact that animals have on our lives.

    Wishing you and Zip and your family a blessed and beautiful Christmas!

    patricia Reply:

    Yes it was a good animal as healer read –

    Thank you for the lovely card and holiday greeting – and your kind words.
    Zip, Lorax and I are holding the home fires together while others cross country ski – I think they may have to go to the Midwest or your neck of the north to find snow. We are having fog to sunshine right now – very dry!

  3. J.D. Meier Says:

    > the sheer pleasure of the words and discoveries
    Now that’s what reading is all about 😉

    patricia Reply:


    I heartily agree.

    Another New Jersey person makes a break to find herself in other parks!

    Happy Holidays to you
    Nice to find your comment, thank you for dropping by. I have been reading but not commenting so often…

  4. Laurie Buchanan Says:

    I’m with Sara, I love the word picture you painted with: “…healing and finding recovery as the leash extends and retracts through the beauty of the park.”
    Laurie Buchanan recently posted..The Magical Faerie WhiskMy Profile

    patricia Reply:

    It was not a very poetic writing and yet the outcomes were descriptive and bountiful and I wanted to capture that feeling of the beauty she was describing and which was providing healing.

    She did not leave out the litter in the story at all

    Thank you for the card also…Merry, merry Happy, happy to you
    May Len feel better and better. That flu is awful stuff. Rest well

  5. Hilary Says:

    Hi Patricia .. I can hear the story line from your post – and then know that the world you describe about the book will be so full … and more – as Janice Gray is obviously a very good story teller – bring ideas to mind that so often we wouldn’t know, but through her book could find out.

    The kind of book that we should all read .. walking and animals can all help so much .. and the kindred spirits you describe really jump out …

    Thanks for letting us know – I hope you, Zip and Lorax had a peaceful Christmas time … and that the family found snow somewhere … a peaceful New Year ahead .. Hilary
    Hilary recently posted..50 States of Prayer, including those overseas …My Profile

    patricia Reply:

    Happy New Year,
    Yes, the family had to travel far and up but they did find snow
    Lorax and ZIP found kennel cough which has now brought ZIP home to heal with no walks, antibiotics and bronchitis…tomorrow is his first follow up appointment and he will be seen in the car – it is so contagious.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post – tho I did not comment, just attempting to get caught up today after a week of vacation.

    I enjoyed this book, the author writes a good essay and I like how she connected each one to share the healing process. I liked this read very much.

  6. Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours Says:

    Dogs can be so helpful in the healing process, and it sounds like this dog and this woman were truly meant to help each other.

    Thanks for being on the tour.

    patricia Reply:

    it was a great read Heather J and I was glad to be on the tour –
    I liked her essay style of writing very much
    Thank you

  7. Janice Gary, author of Short Leash: A Memoir of Dog Walking and Deliverance, on tour December 2013/January 2014 | TLC Book Tours Says:

    […] Monday, December 23rd:  Patricia’s Wisdom […]