Sue Halpern is the author of five previous books including Four Wings and a Prayer and serves as a scholar in residence at Middlebury College. Her adorable seven-year-old dog Pransky is named for the sprightly way she walks and the maiden name of the author's grandmother. Wanting to give this Labrador some activity, Halpern has the two of them certified as a therapy-dog team.
At the County Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center, Pransky shows that she has a natural gift for making the residents feel relaxed and happy in her presence. Sometimes they pet the dog, other times Pransky lays her head on their laps, and when it is permitted, she lies down beside them in their beds. Many of these elderly men and women see Pransky and recall their own past experiences with a beloved dog of their own.
Halpern derives personal satisfaction twice a week just hanging out with her dog at the nursing home. In chapters on restraint, prudence, faith, fortitude, hope, love, and charity, the author makes connections with the virtues as she watches Pransky deliver light and positive vibes — small miracles — to many lonely and isolated residents. She marvels at her dog's resiliency and the ways she brings joy, calm, and confidence to residents and staff.
Pransky proves herself to be a wonderful spiritual teacher for both Halpern and the older people she showers with love and attention. She incarnates what Harvard professor Marjorie Garber has observed:
"Dog love is local love, passionate, often unmediated, virtually always reciprocated, fulfilling, manageable." Say a prayer of thanks for Pransky and all therapy dogs who lavish love upon others.