Author: Sue Halpern
Publication Year: 2013
Publisher: Riverhead BooksEdition: hardcover
Date Completed: Aug - 2013
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.