About Me

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Barbara Techel is the author of the multi-award winning Frankie, the Walk ‘N Roll Dog book series. When her dachshund, Frankie, suffered a spinal injury, Barbara had her custom-fitted for a wheelchair. Frankie persevered, and Barbara realized the beautiful opportunity she had to share Frankie and give others hope and inspiration to be the best they can be. Along with sharing Frankie’s story with children, Barbara and Frankie routinely volunteer as a therapy dog team at a local hospital, senior assisted facility, and hospice community, spreading joy wherever they go.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Five Years and Still Going Strong Living With IVDD

Today I share with you the special post my mom wrote about me on her blog.

Today marks the 5th anniversary since my little Frankie “went down” as it is referred to when a dog can no longer walk and is diagnosed with Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD).
And so began a mission I became so passionate about that I knew if I didn’t pursue it, I would regret it at the end of my life- my mission to educate others that animals with disabilities deserve a chance at living a quality life. From that mission, sprang another unexpected purpose which was to help children and adult’s see their challenges more positively because it was one of many lessons I learned from Frankie.

For me, the day that call came that Frankie went down, was one of the most devastating moments I ever had. I still recall very vividly in my mind trying to picture what Frankie’s life would look like not being able to use her hind legs.  I was 1,400 miles from home vacationing at my mom’s winter house with my husband, John when I received the call that spun my world upside down.

The surgeon gave me the news that Frankie had only a 10-30% chance of walking again even with surgery. After careful consideration, much crying, and consoling from John and my mom, I made the decision to proceed with the surgery.
Frankie when I brought her home after her surgery

You know how they say “life happens while you are busy making other plans?”  That is exactly what happened. My dream of having my new lab puppy become a therapy dog and writing about those experiences was all put on hold.  I was uncertain of my future because of the care I would need to now do for my handicapped dog. I was also angry and could not understand why this was happening when I had my whole life planned out, when my mom gently said to me, “Well maybe God meant for Frankie to be your therapy dog.”  That one line of wisdom has unfolded into countless blessings since that fateful day five years ago.

One of my greatest lessons learned from Frankie through her healing and recovery is that it does not pay to sit too long in pity for yourself or for your dog.  It is up to each of us to look for the good in the bad, find the lesson in a tough situation, and be open to a new path ahead. I realized one day that I had a choice. I could continue to be sad and negative, or I could choose to be happy and positive, and be open to the blessings that may reveal themselves.  Oh, how glad I am that I got that message and changed my attitude, because you see, once I did, everything fell right into place.
Photeo taken one year after Frankie's IVDD diagnoses- joyful and full of life rolling in the grass!

Frankie has also taught me patience, which I am still learning, and still need to be reminded of now and then. But I’m happy to say I seem to be catching on quite well to that lesson. My life is much calmer because of it. 
One of Frankie’s biggest teachings was to follow my heart and not be afraid. She has taught me to push past the fear.  Watching her fly about in her wheelchair, carefree and content, is a constant reminder to me to be who I am without worry what others think.  Frankie does not care that her back legs don’t work so well, nor does she mind being a dog in a wheelchair.

I still get incredibly sad when someone puts their pet to sleep because they can’t bear to see their pet “like that.”  I’ve gotten stronger in expressing to others that pets don’t take pity on themselves, and really it is not any different than if a human loses the loss of their limbs. The difference is that we humans have a much harder time accepting the reality of that loss, where pets accept, and move forward, and we would never give one thought to putting a human to sleep because they became paralyzed. So changing the mindset of others in the same way for animals is something I strive to do with compassion, patience, understanding, and love.

Today I don’t grieve for the past of what have might have been.  Instead I celebrate the gift of that fateful day that opened me up, and through Frankie’s eyes I saw life in full bloom with opportunities and blessings growing in every direction. I don’t know how I will ever thank Frankie for all she has taught me, but giving her at least one thousand kisses and hugs a day, I have a feeling she just may know.

I love you my little dog on wheels… my ambassador of inspiration… my constant shining light as my reminder to see the world with compassion and love.  XO
Should your dog ever be diagnosed with IVDD or you know of a dog that has, please let others know about these wonderful resources:

Dodgerslist is an organization dedicated to helping people whose pets have been diagnosed with IVDD.  They have a DVD for only $3.00 that is a must to buy and educate yourself should your dog ever be faced with this diagnoses.  I encourage you to get it NOW and know your options, as there are many options to help your dog live a long, happy, and quality life.

Eddie’s Wheels is a dog wheelchair company that truly live their life’s work and mission.  Their motto is: We test our products on Animals – speaks to the over 20 years of sharing their lives with disabled pets.   They continue to take each order individually with careful attention to making sure the cart will serve each pet’s level of disability. Their well-trained and experienced staff still design and build each cart by hand with the dog’s name on it. They continue to be moved by the stories from their customers who tell them about their soul companions and feel privileged to be part of their lives.

And if Frankie could talk I have no doubt her motto is this to us:
Always be positive, make a difference, and keep on rolling!!



Robert D said...

Hi Frankie,
What a wonderful post. I had tears in my eyes because everything your mom said it's true. We live life in a rush and hardly stop to appreciate what's really important. You and your mom are doing a magnificent job. I wish I had 1/10 of your and your mom's strength and courage. I wish you continued success on your new career as a therapy doggy. Lots of love,

Frankie, the Walk 'N Roll Dog said...

Hi Claudia,
Wow, thank you so much for your very kind note. It brought tears to my mom and my eyes. We feel very blessed God has chosen us to do what we do.
Thanks for being such a loyal follower!

Your pal,

sagechronicles said...

What amazing resilience you and Frankie have. It gives us all hope!

Frankie, the Walk 'N Roll Dog said...

Thank you so much, Sage!