i'm in the middle of reading this book now and i'm loving it!
i particularly love how he intermingles facts about dogs, or research on dogs/animals in general... like how he explained that autistic people and animals see extreme details in the world (using examples he saw from merle) and how this can be put to good use (examples of an autistic woman who does work to make animals less stressed, i.e. walking through a corral or something like it and mentioning that the light reflecting off of a chain would scare a skittish animal)
as for the on leash/off leash, i agree that it depends on the area, and where the animal grew up/was trained. i know my dog would love to be able to run as far as he can, but at 8 years old and growing up in nyc, he wouldnt have the know-how to deal with things safely. he knows enough to stay away from moving cars, but to think of my dog in merles shoes, facing off against a buffalo or another large wild animal... the thought makes me laugh because i know he would have the most perplexed look on his face once he realized the giant mass was alive, but if it were a reality i'd be horrified, because i know he'd most likely get trampled to death.
great book so far =]