Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

September 4, 2014
Off the Leash: A Year at the Dog Park

Off the Leash“Off the Leash: A Year at the Dog Park”

by Matthew Gilbert

(Thomas Dunne Books, $25.99)

Reviewed by Larry Cox


Anyone who has ever been owned by a dog will appreciate this delightful new book. When Boston Globe TV critic Matthew Gilbert began sharing his life with a Yellow Lab named Toby, certain adjustments had to be made. One of those adjustments was frequent visits to his local dog park.

Gilbert — who describes himself as basically an indoor guy, regularly connected to his TV and computer, and steeped in the visual, digital world — had to rethink his daily life, and sharing it with a canine was not an easy transition. He soon discovered Armory Park, overlooking Boston, and quickly became acquainted with the dog-park subculture.

His routine changed in ways he had never imagined. Instead of finding an iPhone in his pocket, he was more likely to discover broken dog biscuits. His daily life was swept up in the chaotic energy of dogs and their owners, both species which seemed to gather in packs.

His visits to Armory Park were not always a walk in the park. For example, when dogs fight, their owners have been known to bare their teeth at each other, too. As dogs chase each other, steal each other’s toys and occasionally act up, people sometimes are even less controlled than in the more civilized parts of their lives. Gilbert claims that in a dog park, feelings surface faster… unedited. In other words, the owners often are off their leashes, too.

Gilbert was especially surprised to find that his adventures with Toby at the dog park made him more spontaneous and, yes, playful. When he let go of Toby’s leash, he also allowed himself to let go.

This is a heart-warming, humorous book that connects on several levels. It is the first look at dog parks and the part they play in the lives of both humans and their four-legged companions.

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