Utopirama: A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home…


Welcome once again to the semi-regular Utopirama feature, wherein I aim to heighten awareness about certain books that promote that feeling of happiness and that sense of all being right with the world.  Books featured in Utopirama posts are cosy reads, in which nothing occurs to disturb your equilibrium.  Today’s offering is one for the dog-lovers. And also for the nursing home lovers (in case any exist).  And finally for lovers of old age.  It is, of course, A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home: Lessons in the Good Life from an Unlikely Teacher by Sue Halpern.

dog nursing

Quick Overview:

The book follows the story of Sue, and her loveable dog Pransky, who decide that the time is ripe for some volunteering in order to make their corner of the world a better place.  In the face of reasonably large odds (Pransky’s lack of desire to participate in the process, for one) Sue researches the requirements needing to be satisfied for herself and Pransky to become a therapy team and then tries to whip (metaphorically, obviously) Pransky into shape.  After passing the rigorous test for therapy dog teams, Pransky and Sue begin to volunteer at their local nursing home.  From the cranky to the welcoming to the downright not-quite-sure-what’s-going-on, Pransky and Sue encounter and engage with every possible attitude, state of mind and personality in their weekly visits to the elderly residents, proving in the process that sometimes the most effective form of healing and connection can be packaged in the shape of a big furry pillow. With dog breath.

Utopian Themes:

Comfort for the Afflicted

Going Gently into that Good Night

Furry Friends

Communicating beyond Words

Cultivating Virtue

Protective Bubble-o-meter:

protective bubbleprotective bubbleprotective bubbleprotective bubbleprotective bubble

5 out of 5 bubbles for the gentle whuffling of a hound all a-snooze

This is the perfect read for those who like a dog book in which you can be sure that the dog doesn’t die at the end.  Although, a lot of the old people do.

Until next time,


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6 thoughts on “Utopirama: A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home…

  1. Bruce, when I saw the title to your blog, I thought for sure it was a humorous book, it sounding like a “one liner.” I can actually sort of relate to this book, actually, though am not a dog owner, nor a volunteer at a nursing home. Years ago, when I did a variety of entertainment/party work, a few gigs were at nursing homes either doing clown work, face painting or making balloons, typically for a special event or something like “Carnival Week.” There is no question that, if people are generally happy and accepting of their predicament (as in old age and what comes with it), they are still happy people generally. If they’re miserable to begin with, they become more so. I can’t help but wonder, in this book, if Pransky was able to get through to the miserable ones, too! Great review 😀


    • She got though to some – most in fact – but then I suppose that’s why they were included in the book. It was interesting to see that some of the miserable ones responded only to Pransky and not to her owner. I think your conjecture is probably correct – it seemed like the happier people had indeed been happier before they became residents 🙂


  2. I like books like this, feel good with a bit of emotion lobbed in for good measure and a nice bit of escapism which makes me happy. A therapy dog, now that is my kind of career path I wonder if they would accept blokes in dog suits.


  3. Aaahh. I’d like to read a book about that dog bloke. That’s a good word – bloke. I happen to be a therapy dog. I’ve seen it all. I admire those pups who visit the nursing homes. I don’t care for those places myself. They tend to smell funny. The folks there are nice enough, mostly. They just smell funny. Give me a good rehab hospital or a room full of special needs kids and I’m in heaven!! This looks like a good book – I’m glad that Pransky doesn’t die in the end. Maybe I need to check it out and compare notes.


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