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A Dog Walks Into a Nursing Home: Lessons in the Good Life from an Unlikely Teacher Hardcover – May 16, 2013
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Top Customer Reviews
Once the dog was certified, they regularly visited the nearby county nursing home in their home state of Vermont. The author describes her learning as well as the dog's. The dog was wonderful. Ms Halpern waxes philosophical in the book about end of life problems. This is no great tome, but a small slice of life. It is a pleasant read, and the dog does not die in the end. (While I don't normally give away the end of books, I need to wait until I am feeling particularly strong before reading a book where the dog dies in the end. So I am inclined to warn people.)
The author feels somewhat less needed by her 16yo daughter, who appears to be the typical teenager and a husband who is traveling much more on business, so she decides to train her then 6yo female Labradoodle named Pransky, but commonly referred to as Pranny to become a therapy dog to give both the author and her dog more purpose in life.
The first part of the book is primarily about training the dog to be a therapy dog while the latter part is about trying to understand the seven so-called virtues four of which were espoused by Aristotle and Plato being PRUDENCE, JUSTICE, FORTITUDE, AND RESTRAINT to which some time later Saint Augustine later added the final three LOVE, HOPE, and FAITH.
The author wonders at one point if old age isn't much like middle age but only happens later in life, but then decides that there are too many things that are different for that to be accurate.
I liked some of the prose as it was simple by design yet poignant in feeling. Since I am reviewing from a pre-release book the page numbers may vary in the final edition.
1. "It's possible that death released her from a life of pain and that it was welcomed, but it is equally possible that death as a release was one of the stories that we tell ourselves to feel better when the alternative is feeling worse.' [p206] A point well put!
2. "When Fran lived there, Pranny knew it was Franny's room. Once Fran's clothes were emptied from the bureau and her pictures were removed from the wall all Pransky knew was that it wasn't" [p206]
3.Read more ›
As other reviewers have observed, the book actually is quite serious. The author's style tends to be reflective, which some people will like and some will find a little slow. She begins to tell a story and then reflects on some philosophical point that takes her away.
On pages 112-113 the author realizes she's given up some of her assumptions about old age and about nursing homes. There's a significant difference between old age and middle age, she says. People have acknowledged their dependence before they move in.
Yet on page 171 the author says she has a hard time imagining herself as a resident of County, the home she visits, with all the horrors and indignities: stripped of all but a few possessions, dependent on other people for meals and care, sharing a room with a stranger.." Frankly it sounds like a prison to me, but the author commends the "fortitude" of the residents and drags out the cliche of "Old age is not for sissies."
I'm afraid my reaction was to wish devoutly for legislation broadening the scope of legally assisted suicide.
As other reviewers observed, it's not a dog book; it's a book about the author's response to a world of people struggling more or less successfully to maintain dignity in a place designed to destroy any pretense of respect for the elderly.
When it comes to books on growing older, nobody's done a better job than Susan Jacoby. When it comes to books on dogs, I wish this one had been a stronger addition to the list.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. I too have a therapy dog (3 actually) and I really identified with this story.Published 1 month ago by Shaz49
As a former nursing home employee and pet lover - a great read. Bought an extra one for a recently retired co-worker.Published 2 months ago by Ingrid Zwemke
I listened to this on CD, while in the car. It was an interesting "read" about the difference a dog, it's owner, and the nursing home residences made in each other's lives. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Kindle Customer
Very interesting book about a dog's connection to people & ability to make a difference in their lives!Published 3 months ago by Catherine McCormick
Great book for anyone with a Therapy Dog that visits Nursing Homes. Fun read.Published 5 months ago by Cynthia A. Dennis
I felt it was a little tedious and over done in the religious/philosophical aspects. Book could have been downsized by half.Published 6 months ago by grammadee
An excellent, touching look at aging and how therapeutic dogs can be in a nursing home setting. Loved the experiences and her thought provoking insights.Published 6 months ago by M. Walston
A Dog Walks Into a Nursing Home explores how we cope with changes and new spaces in our lives that occur as our children grow up and leave home and what happens when a teacher, mom... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Ricardo L Peverini
This was a delightful informative book. The training a dog must receive is interesting. Relating the actual contact between patients and dog was even more interesting. Read morePublished 9 months ago by ML