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