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

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  1,367 ratings  ·  264 reviews
A layabout mutt turned therapy dog leads her owner to a new understanding of the good life.

At loose ends with her daughter leaving home and her husband on the road, Sue Halpern decided to give herself and Pransky, her under-occupied Labradoodle, a new leash—er, lease—on life by getting the two of them certified as a therapy dog team. Smart, spirited, and instinctively comp
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 16th 2013 by Riverhead Books
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Glenside Library Yes, the author trained her dog to be a therapy dog and this is about the training and their experiences.

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May 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I see that many reviewers were hoping for more stories about the author and Pranksy, and I can understand that ... but as someone who works with a therapy dog in a nursing home, I was fascinated by the other aspects of the book. I originally bought the Kindle version, but I found myself wanting to underline passages, to be able to go back and re-read parts. As I'm just not that Kindle-nimble, I ordered the dead tree version. So many things that the author writes about are simi ...more
Aug 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Two things I'd like to point out about this book before going any further, A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home, is not just another cutesy dog story (although the cover is pretty darn cute), and, NO, the dog on the cover doesn't die in the end. That being said, this is a terrific heartwarming story about a therapy dog named Pransky and his owner Sue.

Pransky, a 7 year-old labradoodle, named after the author's grandmother, lived a happy unleashed life in Vermont. When his owner was beginning to find
Jun 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
Based on the description of this book, I was expecting lots of stories about a therapy dog working in a nursing home. Since I am the Activity Director in a county nursing home, I was really looking forward to reading this. Instead, the author intersperses dog stories with lots of research & commentary on philosophy, statistics, religion, etc.

I did enjoy the dog stories. Especially touching was the story of how she had a resident walk her dog in her wheelchair... it really is these little "normal
May 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2013
Oh, I just did not like this book at all. I love dogs and I was really interested in hearing about how to train a dog to be a therapy pet. I was also interested in the people in the nursing home. What I was NOT interested in was reading a treatise on philosophy, which I absolutely hate.

Unfortunately, the author focuses so much on philosophy, philosophers, and philosophic virtues that this book isn't really what it purports to be. Details about the nursing home inhabitants are vague, and the dog
Linda Wright
Jul 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Lately things have been difficult. My 92 year old stepmother, June, had to be moved to assisted living. She'd been living alone and it became apparent that she couldn't care for herself any longer. She thought she was doing a fine job and there in lies the problem. Navigating the world of home care aides, long term care insurance and assisted living facilities is not for the faint of heart. Throw in a senior citizen who doesn't want to budge and let the headaches begin.

We found a lovely facilit
Nov 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: social-issues, 2014
Is it possible for a book to have too much structure and not enough content? I think A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home has that problem. The word ‘dog’ in the title and the picture of the cute pooch on the front cover inclines one to think that this is a book about a dog. The subtitle is: Lessons in the Good Life from an Unlikely Teacher. A dog would make an unlikely teacher so I am prepared for a book about a dog. And to a certain extent my expectations are met. Sue Halpern trains her dog Pransky ...more
I found this book to be more philosophical and littered with statistical data from studies than about a dog . Yes the dog is mentioned, obviously, but its really more about quality of life for the aging and the nursing home environment. I was hoping to get to know the dog not learn Aristotle theories.
**Book received in exchange for a review**
This book is an example of two things - that I still miss the card catalog and that I will always be a browser in libraries. As far as the card catalog, I know that there are major advantages to the computer. For instance, while I worked for our local public library, we added four new libraries. If we were still using cards, those libraries would have only had a list of some of the materials the library owned. However, the serendipity of finding something you are interested just by flipping thro ...more
Paul Goble
Dec 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lovers of dogs and practical philosophy
This book succeeds in many of the areas I most appreciate in a book: it is at once fun to read, well written, educational, and insightful. I am a better person for having read it.

The topic--a lady and her dog becoming a therapy dog team in a nursing home--touched me personally. I have a deep love of big, gentle dogs. I also spend a lot of time in a nursing home attending to an elderly relative.

The book is roughly chronological, but it is also organized around the Augustinian virtues of Restrain
I am rather surprised at the number of lukewarm and even negative reviews this book has received. I thoroughly enjoyed this book of a woman and her labradoodle who begin volunteering in a nursing home. I thought her style of writing was engaging, warm, and appropriate in tone. This is not an informative guidebook on how to train therapy dogs rather the author presents lovely vignettes about the many residents that she and Pransky had interactions with in the nursing home. She highlights some of ...more
Leslie Sachlis
Oct 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
The training required is just the beginning of the journey. The actual visits are learning experiences in themselves. The journey is thought provoking to anyone.
Mar 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
Full disclosure: I received this book for free in a Goodreads giveaway.

It's rare that I find myself at a loss for words about a book. As I sit here, pondering how to put my feelings about this book into words, it's difficult.

I grew up volunteering in nursing homes. My mother was a social worker there. This book, in a way, was like reliving those days. I still keenly remember many of the residents that have long since passed on. I remember the lessons they taught me, the people they were, and th
Feb 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
It seems that many people expect this to be another dog book and they
are disappointed that it is not so much about the dog or the training
of a therapy dog. I am sympathetic (and empathetic) to those disappointments.
However, in reading the title more carefully, it more than equally suggests
that it is about what happens when the dog walks into the nursing home: what
happens to the dog; what happens to the owner and; what happens to the nursing
home inhabitants.
What happens is that lessons are learne
Nancy Rossman
Jun 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
First I feel duped. The title hooked me and I expected (my problem, I know) a funny tale ... with some lessons. Instead this author is a preacher with too many stats and studies about the benefit of pet therapy. If anyone wants to read this book, they already know all of this. And I felt a bit too much self-congratulations at her volunteer work with Pransky, the dog, at the county nursing home.

More stats about old people, and more studies that have been done, blah blah blah. No thread of a stor
Heidi Marleau
Mar 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A thoroughly enjoyable book. Sweet, insightful and instructive. My husband is thinking about going forward with getting our dog trained and certified to be a therapy dog so this was a perfect read. But even if you aren't on that can learn some great lessons about life from this book. ...more
Jun 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
The stories of the rest home patients are sweet, though.
Lee McClain
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book--pretty deep for a dog story--fun and moving at the same time. You won't zoom through it, you'll savor it. And want to get a therapy dog yourself! ...more
Apr 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Sep 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is for all intents a "mom book" so given to me by my mom and if you don't like dogs don't bother reading it because you've already proven yourself immune to heartfelt things. But it was a surprisingly well written, honest look into not only death but the act of dying - something we are eager to either ignore or fictionalization. ...more
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

When Sue Halpern found herself and her Labradoodle, Pransky, at a loose end, she searched for ways in which to keep them both busy. Of the options available, Sue felt Pransky would make a wonderful pet therapy dog and began the process of training for certification. Reigning in Pransky's natural exuberance was no small task but within a few months, having passed the assessment process, Sue and Pransky walked into the County Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center to meet its residents.

Halpern int
Jennifer W
Sep 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A feel good kind of book which is what I needed right now. Extra special because the dog in the book didn't die or get hurt and make me sad!

There is a wonderful quote from Pope Benedict on charity that was included towards the end of the book:

"What hinders this humane and loving gaze towards our brothers and sisters? Often it is the possession of material riches and a sense of sufficiency, but it can also be the tendency to put our own interests and problems above all else. We should never be in
Mar 30, 2013 rated it liked it
I bought this book because of the title and the adorable dog on the cover. I am a pushover for books about dogs. When I read this was about a therapy dog who goes to nursing homes I had to try this book. I really wanted to like this book more. her labradoodle "pranksy" was trained to be a therapy dog. I was really hoping this book would be about Pranksy and the nursing home residents. Part of this book does talk about the residents and Pranksy. but not anywhere near as much as I hoped. A lot of ...more
Trisha  Coonce
Sep 21, 2013 rated it did not like it
I was really disappointed in this book. The summary on the cover boasted about a heartwarming and profound story of a dog that spends days lifting the spirits of those in nursing homes. However, two chapters in I was already annoyed, bored, and skimming the pages. The author seems to feel the need to fill the pages with facts about therapy dogs and nursing homes, along with paragraphs and paragraphs about several philosophers.
I enjoy philosophy, don't get me wrong.. But I didn't pick up this bo
Mar 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was somewhere between a three and four for me. I see other reviews like mine, wishing there was more dog stories. Seriously though, every time the author started ging into facts, or quoting philosophy or the bible, I zoned out and had to reread that part. It's very annoying to see, that shocking moment you realize you are reading a book and not living the story. They mostly felt unnecessary, and I just wasn't invested enough after being jolted into self awareness.

However, I loved Pransky.
Jun 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
The author trained her dog to be a therapy dog at her local nursing home, thinking the dog needed some sort of outlet besides lying around all day while she worked at home writing.

A fairly quick read, I expected this to be mostly about the dog. And there was a lot about how wonderful the dog was, but what I didn't see coming were all the wonderful stories and insight about nursing home residents. Pransky, the dog, may have made an impression on some of the residents, but equally so, those resid
Sep 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
I so enjoyed this book. I admit that before I read it as part of a book club, I had already assumed it to be silly, emotional, and vapid. It was none of these things. I think better words to describe this book would be insightful, lovely, compelling, honest, and charming. Yes, this was a story about a dog and her owner visiting a nursing home, but it was also an educated and wise treatise on the philosophy of life, death, kindness, loss, virtue, hope, friendship, and love. It made my heart happy ...more
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Kathy by: Parade Magazine
Shelves: animals
This book defies classification: it's that rare dog story that doesn't end with the dog's death, because it's not just about the dog. It's a book about end of life issues and the realities of nursing home life, and it's an examination of what virtue means. Philosophical, insightful, humorous, this would be a good book club read. ...more
Saturday's Child
Sep 16, 2014 rated it liked it
This is more than just a dog story it also has insight into life in a nursing home. It made me both happy to read about what the author and her dog did but also sad when thinking about growing older.
Aug 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: animals
This overdue book has been sitting around for several weeks, but I picked it up today and read it in one sitting. What can I say - dogs are the best.
Stephanie A.
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
The bite-sized bits about actual visits to nursing home patients were interesting, but they felt few and far between amidst a sea of references to research/studies and philosophy.
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Sue Halpern lives in the Green Mountains of Vermont where she writes books and articles, consorts with her husband, the writer and activist Bill McKibben, looks forward to visits from their wonderful daughter Sophie, plays with their remarkably enthusiastic dog, and introduces Middlebury College students to digital audio storytelling. She is a Guggenheim Fellow and Rhodes Scholar with a doctorate ...more

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