A Dog Walks Into a Nursing Home: Book summary and reviews of A Dog Walks Into a Nursing Home by Sue Halpern

A Dog Walks Into a Nursing Home

Lessons in the Good Life from an Unlikely Teacher

By Sue Halpern

A Dog Walks Into a Nursing Home
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  • Published in USA  May 2013,
    320 pages.

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Book Summary

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 compassionate, Pransky turned out to be not only a terrific therapist but an unerring moral compass. 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. And little by little, their adventures expanded and illuminated Halpern's sense of what virtue 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 faithful, charitable, loving, and sometimes prudent mutt - showing great hope, fortitude, and restraint along the way (the occasional begged or stolen treat notwithstanding) - taught a well-meaning woman the true nature and pleasures of the good life.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"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

"Endearing thoughts on aging and companionship." - Kirkus

"Starred Review. 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

"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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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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