Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Dog Walks Into a Nursing Home:Lessons in the Good Life From an Unlikely Teacher ; Sue Halpern


Author: Sue Halpern
Publication Year:  2013 
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Edition: hardcover
Source:  Library

Date Completed: Aug - 2013 
Rating: 4.5/5


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 herself with too much time on her hands, she decided that both she and Pransky would be trained so that Pransky could become a certified therapy dog.  After his training was complete, for 2-hours each week he and Sue, would visit nursing home residents at County Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center nearby.
 
Although Pransky's visits were a hit and put a smile on the faces of the residents, even more amazing is the fact that she seemed to sense what each individual needed. Sometimes she is bouncy, tail-wagging and puppy-like, and every now and then she just stands close by, sensing a pet or two coming her way. At other times when a resident is close to death, Pransky seemed to sense that just being close in a chair or even on the bed was what just what that person needed. 
 
The residents, some old, some with dementia, and some young or sick and terminally ill, the residents come from all walks of life -- some share stories or their younger days while others just sit quietly and enjoy their weekly visitors.  Although some of the people Pransky has interacted with do die, the story never comes across as too sad, but rather a reminder to the reader to make the most of the time we have left. 
 
The chapters headings bear the (7) Virtues for titles: Restraint, Prudence, Faith, Fortitude, Hope, Love and Charity, and the author ties each heading into experiences and observations from her time at the nursing home  with Pransky.  It did seem like Pransky seemed much more comfortable spending time with the sick and elderly than his owner.  The stories told by the residents and reflections by the author left me with a lot to think about. This isn't a book just for dog lovers by any means.
 
The book concluded with a finding reported by an Australian Hospice Nurse, regarding the 5 biggest regrets hospice patients expressed just before they died:
  • I wish I'd had the courage to love a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  • I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
  • I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
  • I wish I'd stayed in touch with my friends
  • I wish I let myself be happier.

    Give this book a try - I think you will be glad you did. It is also available as an audiobook and eBook.

6 comments:

  1. This sounds like a heartwarming story. Thanks for your great review.

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  2. I appreciate your opening comments because I always worry that an animal, especially one central to the story, will die and, although I love animals, I don't care for those cute-as-a-button, sugar-rush stories!
    This book sounds terrific. I think the power animals have to help people, especially those in a hospital or nursing home is remarkable. Pransky sounds loving, sweet and amazing also very smart

    Thank you for your great and honest review, Diane!

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  3. This is the cutest cover ever! It also sounds like a great read.

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  4. That is such an adorable cover! I love the idea of a story about a therapy dog and I can only imagine how Pransky somehow just seemed to know the right things to do. I'm also glad the dog doesn't die at the end. Thanks for that last part about the findings, they convinced me to go read the book!

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  5. Aww, this book sounds like it would be right down my alley. Therapy animals are absolutely amazing!!!

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  6. Best cover! Gage has a book about a therapy dog, Lola, that he knows by heart.
    I am probably going to make Gage into a therapy preschooler. When I was 3 I was visiting people in the nursing home every Saturday to sing them a song or recite my ABCs. I haven't worked out the details but I'm determined that Gage have the same experience.

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