A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home: Lessons in the Good Life from an Unlikely Teacher

A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home: Lessons in the Good Life from an Unlikely Teacher

by Sue Halpern


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A layabout mutt turned therapy dog leads her owner to a new understanding of the good life.

In late adolescence, Pransky was bored: she needed a job. and so Sue Halpern decided to give herself and her underoccupied Labradoodle a new leash—er, lease—on life by getting the two of them certified as a therapy-dog team. Pransky proved to be not only a terrific therapist, smart and instinctively compassionate, but an unerring moral compass as well. In the unlikely-sounding arena of a public nursing home, she led her teammate into a series of encounters with the residents that revealed depths of warmth, humor, and insight Halpern hadn’t expected. Little by little, their adventures expanded and illuminated Halpern’s sense of what goodness is and does—how acts of kindness transform the giver as well as the given-to.

Funny, moving, and profound, A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home is the story of how one virtuous—that is to say, faithful, charitable, loving, and sometimes prudent—mutt showed great hope, fortitude, and restraint (the occasional begged or stolen treat notwithstanding) as she taught a well-meaning woman the essence and pleasures of the good life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594632693
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/06/2014
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 278,781
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Sue Halpern is the author of five previous books. Her writing has appeared in The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, Time, The New Yorker, Parade, Rolling Stone, and Glamour, among others. She has been a Rhodes Scholar and a Guggenheim Fellow and is a scholar in residence at Middlebury College. She lives with her husband, the writer Bill McKibben, and Pransky in Ripton, Vermont.

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Excerpted from "A Dog Walks Into a Nursing Home"
by .
Copyright © 2014 Sue Halpern.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

I loved the book. When writing about pets and infirm and elderly people, the temptation to get sappy and sentimental may be great, but Halpern never succumbs. I found myself choking back tears… There are small and great triumphs… and there are many laughs as well… It is a great gift for someone with Halpern’s mind to join with Pransky’s heart to shed light on some very dark places for the rest of us.” –The New York Times Book Review

Massively insightful… Consider it a meditation on morality, aging and friendship, as well as affirmation that, no matter our physical conditions or economic circumstances, ‘We are rich in life.’” –O Magazine (one of O’s Only Dog Books You’ll Ever Need to Own)

“This book delves far deeper into human nature than that old theme of 'we all love our dogs, don't we?'… her book is more about humanity and how wonderful, fulfilling and even surprising experiences can be had in the most unlikely of places Amen.” –USA Today (3 ½ / 4 starred rating)

“A terrific, bighearted book that anyone interested in the human-dog bond cannot fail to be delighted byHonest and touching, this book illuminates the lessons owners and dogs teach each other, as well as the transformative nature of acts of kindness—and not just for the recipient. Thoughtful, inspiring, and often joyous, A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home is, at heart, about nothing less than what it is to be human, hopefully with a good dog by your side.” –Modern Dog

[Fills] readers with goodness and stories of the near-miraculous relationship between pups and people. Hers is a quiet, Zen-like book packed with philosophy, theology, and a dog. It’s more reflective, more spiritual than other dog books, and it will make you look at your canine kids with a little more wonder.” –Massachusetts Eagle-Tribune

Heartwarmingintellectual, thoughtful and deeply perceptive… Halpern is a gifted writer who effortlessly weaves philosophy, theology, psychology and neuroscience into gently humorous, vividly descriptive storytellingA Dog Walks into a Nursing Home is an unexpectedly profound and informative read, even as it entertains and, yes, warms the heart.” –Seven Days

“Skilled in the art of combining vivid in-the-moment storytelling with thoughtful analysis… [Halpern is] a deeply ethical thinker with a bright sense of humor… A profoundly affecting and edifying chronicle brimming with practical wisdom.” –Booklist (starred review)

Halpern’s love of life and openness to its infinite possibilities shine through in this powerful and engaging account… Time and again, anecdotes bolster her contention that in places where ‘life is in the balance,’ it is possible to get to the essentials about human nature.” –Publishers Weekly

Witty and compassionate… readers will take away the knowledge that we are each given one life and we had best not squander how we live it.” –Kirkus

“It proved more challenging than she had anticipated to teach Pransky, accustomed to roving through meadows unleashed, to ignore everything from food to wheelchairs to other dogs and interact politely with people who were ill, fragile, sometimes uprooted and often demented… But Pransky and her human succeeded, and Ms. Halpern’s new book tells about their adventures—an appropriate word… perceptive and unsentimental.” –The New York Times, "The New Old Age" blog

“A therapy dog opens many doors of deeper human communication. All people interesting in improving the lives of others should read this insightful book.” –Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation and Animals Make Us Human

Affectionate and deeply affecting, written with a light hand and a keen eye, this is a wonderful story of great things—namely, love, life, human kindness, and dogs.” –Susan Orlean, author of Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend and The Orchid Thief

“A joyous and moving account of how seemingly small gifts of kindness can make a profound difference. And not to the recipient alone.” –Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of March, People of the Book, and Caleb’s Crossing

"This is a gem of a book, a beautiful, wise, and big-hearted story about companionship and the true nature of virtue." –Diane Ackerman, author of One Hundred Names for Love

“A book about a dog that is ultimately a book about humanity… a beautiful, honest, joyful accounting of what matters.” –Terry Tempest Williams, author of Refuge and When Women Were Birds

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A Dog Walks Into a Nursing Home: Lessons in the Good Life from an Unlikely Teacher 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow.  What an amazing book!  Regardless of whether you are a dog lover or not, this book is filled with great stories and heartfelt emotion  The author provides a wonderful  insight into the human condition.  Each chapter deals with a different virtue (love, hope, charity, fortitude etc.,) which the residents of the nursing home that the author and therapy dog visit  beautifully encompass.   When I received this book, I started reading it and completed it one afternoon.  Simple, but profound.   
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sue Halpem is a smarty, witty writer and she doesn't disappoint with her newest book, A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home. The writing is top notch. The characters are well developed. The dialog is interesting. The plot is nicely put together. Five stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very well organized and a delight to read. Easy reading and good for all ages.
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SusanMDM More than 1 year ago
The book was educational, funny, sad, and well-written. I especially liked the way the author organized the chapters. I shared this book with my son who wants his dog to become a therapy dog.
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