A Dog Walks Into A Nursing Home

A Dog Walks Into A Nursing Home

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.

Praise & Reviews

Halpern is a writer of immense talents and enormous heart. 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 People of the Book and Caleb’s Crossing

With uncommon wit and insight, Sue Halpern has written a book about a dog that is ultimately, a book about humanity. A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home is a beautiful, honest, joyful accounting of what matters.”
-Terry Tempest Williams, author of Refuge

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

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

Halpern realized that Pransky, part yellow Lab and part poodle, was so smart and energetic that she was bored in spite of the pleasures of her leash-free Vermont life. As her daughter left for college, Halpern herself feels the need for a new adventure. So she plunges into the rigorous training required for Pransky to become a certified therapy dog. When they begin visiting a nursing home each week, Pransky proves to be a dog of phenomenal empathy, affection, and patience. An immersion writer—Halpern participated in neurological studies for her last book, Can’t Remember What I Forgot (2008)—she is skilled in the art of combining vivid in-the-moment storytelling with thoughtful analysis. She warmly and incisively portrays the people they meet and contemplates the vagaries of memory, the inevitability of loss, and persevering joy. A deeply ethical thinker with a bright sense of humor, Halpern uses the seven virtues as organizing principles, subtly shaping her engrossing account to reveal fresh and provocative aspects of restraint, prudence, faith, fortitude, hope, love, and charity as she addresses the complexities of infirmity, dementia, and death; animal intelligence; and how doing good benefits all involved. The result is a profoundly affecting and edifying chronicle brimming with practical wisdom and things “that were so unexpected they seemed miraculous.”
–Donna Seaman