About Me

My photo
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.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Special Needs Pet Feature of the Week: Gabbi

Pretty Gabbi
What is your pets name?  
Gabrielle (Gabbi) S. Carolina

How old is your pet? 
15 ys. this past Oct.  2010

Where did you get your pet? 
Came from shelter in South Carolina thru DRNA (rescue).  Former owner had broken her back.

What is your pets physical challenge? 
Paralyzed from abuse.

What is your pets favorite thing to do? 
'Nurse' on doggy stuffed toy, or blanket, or bedding, or whatever.   Stress reliever for her.

What is your pets favorite thing to eat?  

What do you love most about your pet?  
Personality (tho' can be aggravating @ times!!) b/c she is going to be sure you know she is 'present & alive'!! 

What has your pet most taught you?  
Patience & deeper love for special needs.

Anything else you’d like to share?  
Gabbi was always a 'tough little cookie', which is prob. how she survived until she was rescued from prev. owner.  Now @ 15+ yrs. of age, sad to see the aging changes, as she was always so Alive & Vocal!!   Gotta love her tho'! 
***If you care for a special needs pet and would like your pet featured, please email me through my website contact. Send a photo and I will forward the questionnaire for your pet to be featured in an upcoming post.***


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Frankie the Walk 'N Roll Dog Interviews Author Barbara Techel (Part 1)

This is part one of Frankie's interview with author Barbara Techel.  Stay tuned for part two Wed. June 1st.  You never know what this little dog on tires will say or ask, so tune in again next week!
Interview frankie photo 2
So I just have to ask the most important question right away.  What is it that you love about me?
Oh Frankie!  As always, you are the little stinker, aren’t you?  I love everything about you!  You are such a special little dog with a very big heart.  I love that you have taught me to expand on my compassion by teaching me what a blessing special needs pets are.  I never thought about pets with disabilities until you were diagnosed with IVDD—now I can’t imagine my life without a pet with special needs.
I also love how you are so loyal to me, how you would snuggle on my lap all day if I let you, and how you intently stare at me each morning with your little brown mouse eyes and don’t give up until I finally stir and wake up. You are relentless!!… but I still love you.
Most of all I love all the feelings of joy and love you have put in my heart… I truly believe I am a better human being because of you.

Aww shucks, Mom… if I could blush, I would.  Ok, so about those books your wrote about me, Frankie the Walk ‘N Roll Dog book series- why did you write them?

Well you see little Frankie, though I don’t want you to feel bad about this,  I almost made a very, very bad mistake and put you to sleep when you were diagnosed with IVDD and were only given a 10-30% chance of walking even with surgery. I just couldn’t imagine that you would have a quality life if you couldn’t use your hind legs.
Thank goodness I didn’t do that because of the help from your grandma, your papa, and the vets assuring me all would be ok, I did the right thing for you.  And wow, you took over from there and watching you move forward despite all you had been through, made me realize I could help other dachshunds and pet parents see that IVDD is a manageable disease.  So many people don’t know the options available.
I also was so surprised when I took you out in public for the first time and how children loved seeing you in your wheels and were asking all kinds of questions about you.
I then got this really awesome feeling in my heart after all we had been through and knew, just knew, that even though I had never written a children’s book that this is what I was meant to do!  You gave me the courage, little Frankie, to write your story and to not be afraid, but to just go for it… and follow my heart.

Wow, Mom, I did all that for you?  ARF-A-ROO!  So what is one of the biggest lessons you have learned from me?
I have learned so much from you, sweet Frankie.  The one lesson that is in my mind today is one I shall share for this interview. 
I used to worry so much about what others thought about me.  I was so insecure.  I always had to make sure I looked my best when going out, and would constantly worry if I was skinny enough or pretty enough.  Oh, how I wish I could take back all that worrying!  When I look back now, it seems such a waste of time. 
When I had to make the decision to have you custom-fitted for a dog wheelchair, it was not something I immediately accepted.  You see, I really wanted you to walk on your own again.  I was also worried what others would think of me if I had a dog in a wheelchair, as if that was a bad thing.  But I realized by getting you a dog wheelchair that you could run and play and do all the dog things you could before, so I knew then the wheelchair was the right thing for you. But I still had to get over my fear that others would think it mean or strange that I had a dog with wheels.
I so wish I had never thought that way, but now I know better.  When your wheelchair arrived and you tried it out for the first time, I was elated!  Watching you get around in your wheels, it occurred to me that you had no concern for how you looked, but only that you had your freedom again. It was as if you didn’t even realize you had wheels now for back legs.
I knew then by observing you being who you always were that I had a choice, too.  I could worry what others thought about me, or I could do something positive and educate others that dogs with wheelchairs can live quality lives, and that there is nothing wrong with a dog having a wheelchair.  You taught me to hold my head high no matter what… and ultimately t that spilled over into many other areas of my life.
Now I don’t worry so much anymore.  Ok, so once an a while I do, but that is because I am human and believe me, there are days I truly wish I was a dog like you living with loving, caring parents like you have.  You got it made little one!  But all kidding aside, I have come so far in being me and liking me.  It is such a good place to be… and all because of you, Frankie…. You taught me that.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Disabled Dachshund Becomes First Ever Cyber Therapy Dog with Companions for the Soul


Award-winning Author Barbara Techel and her paralyzed therapy dog, Frankie, have been chosen as the first ever cyber therapy dog team. They will appear via Skype to share their inspiring story of learning to see challenges in a positive way and encourage volunteerism despite obstacles we may face.

ELKHART LAKE, WI — Barbara Techel and her 11-year old wheelchair-bound dachshund will share their inspiring and uplifting story about how Frankie suffered a spinal injury, was custom-fitted for a wheelchair, persevered, and became a volunteer therapy dog through Barbara’s award-winning book series, Frankie the Walk ‘N Roll Dog.

They will be appearing via Skype in conjunction with Companions for the Soul(CFTS)who is hosting this first time event on May 31st, 2011.  Barbara and Frankie will be sharing their story with Woodside Elementary School and their K-2 Literacy program. CFTS is a non-profit therapy dog organization based in California and is hosting this first time ever event. CFTS’s programs are targeted at enriching the lives of the handicapped, autistic and special needs children. When executive director, Ginger Mozzetti, discovered Frankie and Barbara through their website, and the work they are doing, she contacted Barbara to ask if Frankie would be their first ever cyber therapy dog and partner with CFTS.

Barbara will share Frankie’s story, a selected reading, and answer questions. And most importantly, Frankie will be there to promote both her books, Frankie the Walk ‘N Roll Dog and Frankie the Walk ‘N Roll Therapy Dog Visits Libby’s House to bring the children smiles and joy by being in her presence, as well as encourage the students to read and see their challenges in a positive way.

We all face challenges in life, but when we choose to be positive despite obstacles, we find that our challenges can often time lead to some of our most pivotal learning opportunities.  Frankie taught her owner, Barbara just that, and now Barbara finds great joy in helping others benefit from Frankie’s amazing attitude and valuable life lessons.

Frankie the Walk ‘N Roll Dog book series is a true collection told from Frankie’s viewpoint. The first book tells how Frankie overcame adversity and lives every day to the fullest despite her disability, while the second book in the series, tells how Frankie became a registered therapy dog and gives personal accounts of her visits to the residents of Libby’s House, a senior assisted facility where many residents have Alzheimer’s or dementia.

To learn about Barbara and Frankie visit http://www.joyfulpaws.com and to learn more about CFTS visithttp://www.companionsforthesoul.org.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Special Needs Pet Feature: Idgie

Just a special reminder to join author Barbara Techel, Frankie the Walk 'N Roll Dog book series and author Mary Shafer, Disabled Pets and the People Who Love Them over at award winning and pet expert Darlene Arden's Facebook Fan page on the disscussion board as we discuss:  Who's Savin' Who? How Rescued Special Needs Pets Rescue Us.
What is your pet's name?
Idgie, named after the lead character in my favorite movie, "Fried Green Tomatoes," because she's a scrappy little fighter, just like Imogene Louise Threadgoode.

How old is your pet?
Almost 9

Where did you get your pet?
We adopted her from a PetSmart store, where she was the last of her litter that had been rescued from the streets of Philly after their mom had been killed.

What is your pet's physical challenge?
Idgie was born with anophthalmia -- no eyes. She is completely blind and has never seen.

What is your pet's favorite thing to do?
Idgie loves to lay in my lap while I'm working, half on the  keyboard tray, purring.

What is your pet's favorite thing to eat?
I know I'm gonna have so many people yell at me about this: She absolutely ADORES pizza-flavored Goldfish Crackers from Pepperidge Farm. I don't give her a lot of them, but I can't open the bag without her flying into my office from wherever she is in the house.

What do you love most about your pet?
She is just the best little pal I've ever had. Perhaps because of her own trials, she's very sensitive to the emotions of others. But I also love how incredibly intelligent she is. You can almost see her thinking sometimes.

What has your pet most taught you?
That there is always a way. If she wants something bad enough, she figures out a way to make it happen or get it. I don't think she's even aware she lacks what so many of us consider a vital sense, so she doesn't allow it to limit her. That makes me realize I never have any excuse not to try.

Anything else you’d like to share?
I'd like to think Idgie was brought into my life to help me become a better person, more self-sufficient yet sensitive to others, and to be strong. But I must admit that I have no dread like that of the day she will leave me. It's something I cannot even bear to think about. I hope when that day comes, I prove myself worthy of having been blessed with her love and the gift of her in my life.
***If you care for a special needs pet and would like your pet featured, please email me through my website contact. Send a photo and I will forward the questionnaire for your pet to be featured in an upcoming post.***


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Who's Savin' Who? How Rescued Special Needs Pets Rescue Us

Who's Savin' Who graphic
This is a special invitation to join in a heart-warming, thoughtful discussion of how special needs pets can affect our lives in ways we never imagined. 

Join author Mary Shafer of Almost Perfect Pets and the People Who Love Them and award winning author, Barbara Techel of Frankie the Walk ‘N Roll Dog book series as they begin their discussion which they hope will help others see special needs pets in a whole new and wonderful way.

This discussion will begin Sunday, May 22nd, 2011 and will run through Saturday, May 28th on host Darlene Arden’s popular Facebook Fan page. Darlene is an award winning author, journalist, speaker and certified animal behavior consultant.  She is passionate about the welfare of animals and her goal is always the same: To enhance the lives of dogs and cats. Her newest book now out, The Complete Cat's Meow: Everything You Need to Know about Caring for Your CatDarlene has hosted numerous discussions on her previous group Facebook page, “Rover! Get Off Her Leg!” which you can view in the archives.


Mary and Barbara hope to encourage others to give thoughtful consideration to a special needs pet as well as resources to help educate others about the options, and help in caring for a special needs pet.

We invite you to join in the discussion to share your stories as well as resources you may know to help enlighten others of all the blessings that these animals truly are.

Mary's special needs pet, Idgie, born without eyes.
Barbara's special needs pet, Frankie, known as the "walk 'n roll dog" who has Intervertebral Disc Disease.


Frankie the Walk 'N Roll Dog Greeting Cards on Special this Week Only!

Frankie greeting cards depict me snuggled in my blanket that my mom and papa have dubbed my "cheese curd" blanket. I'm hanging out on the deck overseeing my mom's writing studio where she wrote my Frankie the Walk 'N Roll Dog book series.

Greeting cards are a print from a painting that was commissioned by my papa from the talented artist Cassy Tully as a anniversary gift for my  mom.  My mom still cries tears of joy remembering that very special day she shall never forget.

So, if you are a Frankie fan these greeting cards make wonderful cards to send to others to share my special message of: Always be positve, make a difference, and keep on rolling!  And they are great for framing also!

The back of each card shares my story along with my motto and authentic paw print.

Single card:  $3.95 (retail $4.95)
Boxed set of 5:  $17.95 (retail $19.95)

You can order on our website.
Special price good through Sunday, May 22, 2011
A portion of Frankie greeting card proceeds donated to various disabled animal charities and organizations.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Special Needs Pet Feature: Charlie

How old is your pet?
Where did you get your pet?
I lost my 10-year old long hair dachshund, Panama, to cancer in November 2005. My father bought Charlie for me in Mississippi in Jan. 2006 to help me get over the loss of Panama.
What is your pets physical challenge?
Charlie suffered three ruptured discs in his back the summer of 2010. He never regained use of his hind legs after back surgery. We did physcial therapy and he saw a doggie chiropractor for 3 months after surgery. We got him a custom wheelchair from Eddie's Wheels. He can now go outside and enjoy life!
What is your pets favorite thing to eat?
When Charlie was in the animal hospital for 10-days he got spoiled to can food. I now have to mix canned food with is dry food or he will not eat. He also loves when we do take out from Outback! On my days off work I make him a scrambled egg with cheese. As most doxies, he loves to eat!
What do you love about your pet?
I love Charlie's spirited soul! He has never let his physcial challenges keep him down. He is happy and loves life. Ove the holidays we visited relatives in Mississippi. My aunt and uncle have both recently battled cancer. My Uncle Wallace says that Charlie is an inspiration to him. That if Charlie can handle what he has been dealt with such spirit and love for life, he can also deal with his health issues.
What has your pet most taught you?
Charlie has taught me patience. After his accident, I did not know if I was up to the challenge of taking care of a disabled pet. I knew I had to learn, as putting him down was never an option for me. It has been a major life change, but so worth every minute.
Anything else you'd like to share?
Just that if you are ever faced with making a decision for a disabled pet, do your research first. There is so much information on the Internet to help pet owners learn how to take care of these pets. Dodgerslist was so helpful for me.
Charlie 2
Thank you, Charlie's Mom for sharing Charlie with us.  Wow, I could relate to everything you said!
***If you care for a special needs pet and would like your pet featured, please email me through my website contact. Send a photo and I will forward the questionnaire for your pet to be featured in an upcoming post.***


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Frankie the Walk 'N Roll Dog Visits Brooklyn Elementary School Via Skype and "In-Dog"

Brooklyn Elementary School was a highly anticipated event for my mom and I.  We could hardly wait for the big day to arrive when we would meet all the kiddo's in-person and err, "in-dog."  Arf!

Third grade teacher, Joyce Gilmour and the PTO have a special program called P.A.W.S which stands for "Positive Attitude + Work = Success."  Each year they pick a theme and this years theme was to encourage the children about the bucket filling concept based on Bucket Fillers 101.

My books messages were a perfect fit for their program since I encourage kiddo's to be positive despite challenges, and I also encourage finding a way to give back even when facing challenges.

To kick off the event my mom and I connected with the school in December via Skype and my mom read my book, Frankie the Walk 'N Roll Dog to the whole school.
Then in Janurary we connected with the school once again via Skype, and this time my mom read them my second book, Frankie the Walk 'N Roll Therapy Dog Visits Libby's House.

As part of their bucket filling projects Brooklyn Elementary chose Families-In-Need-of-Assistance which helps their local families who are struggling, and help with paying for food, gas, etc. They will be doing a Walk-A-Thon soon to help raise money for the program.

They also chose REACH-a-Child which "aims to put smiles on the faces of children in crisis across America through the power of books. Whether the children are in the hospital, victims of domestic disturbance, or automobile accident or temporarily homeless, REACH a Child wants to help the first responders engage these children in a positive way."

The BIG DAY finally arrived when we made the 2-hour drive to Brooklyn, WI to see the kiddo's live!  We heard there was much anticipation of the special day with many kiddo's asking days before what day they would meet us.

When we arrived we saw the big donation box for books and oodles of books surrounding the box on the floor that will benefit REACH-a-Child program.  I donated to sets of my books, along with a stack of other gently used dog books my mom had in her home library.

Here I am donating to REACH-a-Child!  Hot-diggity dog fun!

As we moved down the hallway the walls were lined with bucket cut outs in all colors with one representing each child and their bucket filling efforts for the year.  So inspiring!  And then as we neared the end of the hallway, there on the wall were pictures of me and my mom!  Perfect time for a picture for me to pose with extraordinary third grade teacher of 36-years, Mrs. Joyce Gilmour.  BTW:  Mrs. Gilmour will be retiring this year and we wish her the best of luck!

I love Mrs. Gilmour!

My mom and I did two presentations that day and enjoyed each and every moment. One of the most touching moments was meeting a little girl who had a brain tumor removed earlier that year.  She is now in remission and we are praying that she will continue to recover and heal.  Please keep her in your prayers.  

The kiddo's had FANTASTIC questions!  My mom got all choked up when one young boy asked if my mom would rather have a Frankie that walks or one in a wheelchair.  She told the audience that of course she wished with all her heart that I could walk normal again, but she wouldn't trade one single moment of what she has had with me... and someday she hopes to adopt another special needs dachshund.

To round out the perfect day we were presented with thank you cards, which always brings tears to my mom's eyes.  We LOVE getting thank you cards and letters.  Once we got home, Mom read each and everyone of them to me.  Then it was time for another photo session!

Posing with all my special thank you cards!

Thank you, Brooklyn Elementary for a wonderful day!  It was the best meeting all of you, and my mom and I are so proud of all your bucket filling efforts!  Keep up the great work!


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Wynn with Dogs- Frankie the Walk 'N Roll Dog on Pet Life Radio

Thank you to Raquel Wynn, radio show host, author, certified personal trainer and animal massage therapist for helping us spread our positive message about Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) by interviewing my mom, Barbara Techel on her radio show.

Click here to listen!


Monday, May 9, 2011

Special Needs Pet Feature: Cassidy

What is your pet's name? 

How old is your pet? 
1 1/2 years old

Where did you get your pet? 
A lady contacted me and said, one of her dachshund puppies was born blind and asked if I would take it, because they wouldn't be able to sell her like that.  They bred to dapples together and that is the result.
37 (1)

What is your pet's physical challenge?  
Completely blind.

What is your pet's favorite thing to do? 
She likes to play with her siblings, go for car rides and play at the bike trail.

What is your pet's favorite thing to eat? 
Pumpkin or Peanut Butter Frozen Yogurt Cubes.
What do you love most about your pet?  
She is VERY loving and VERY brave.

What has your pet most taught you? 
That you don't have to be perfect....that you don't have to see love, to feel it.  And that a disability doesn't have to hinder you, from living and loving life.

Anything else you'd like to share? 
Cassidy is quite an inspiration.  Everyone that meets her, cannot believe she is even blind....she is courageous, outgoing and loves everyone....yes, I think she is amazing! 
Such beautiful, beautiful photos of darling, Cassidy!  I'm so glad you shared her with me and my readers.

***If you care for a special needs pet and would like your pet featured, please email me through my website contact. Send a photo and I will forward the questionnaire for your pet to be featured in an upcoming post.***


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sparkles the Fire Safety Dog Memorial Pathway

My friend, Sparkles passed away in October of 2010.  This summer on June 29th there will be a very special memorial service for her at the National Fallen Firefighter's Foundation Walk of Honor for all her dedication in teaching fire safety with her volunteer firefighter mom, Dayna Hilton.  Sparkles is credited with saving the lives of seven children and two adults.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Merry Misfits: Disabled Animals of Rolling Dog Ranch

I think Steve and Alayne Smith of Rolling Dog Ranch are just grand!  The love and support they show for disabled pets is so wonderful.  This video was taken when they were located in Wyoming, but now they are in New Hampshire.
But as a disabled dachshund, I want you to know it is true what they say, that all these animals want is a chance at life.  I'm so glad that Rolling Dog Ranch helps animals like myself who otherwise would not have had a chance. My mom says I am a huge blessing to live with and take care of... so maybe after seeing this video, you too perhaps would want a special needs pet?


Monday, May 2, 2011

Special Need Pet Feature(s): Batty and Opi

What is your pets name?
(named such because she is blind as a bat)

How old is your pet?
8 months (born around June 2010)

Where did you get your pet?
We live on a remote Greek island and Dutch tourists found her at their hotel the day before they were flying back home. The owner didn't want such an unsightly thing around his hotel and was glad when they left with the kitty in a cardboard box. They showed up with her at our volunteer clinic. Back then she had a fungal infection on her skin and much of her fur coat was missing. We could tell she was not able to see. (My husband Alf and I end up with most of the dumped kitties on our island. There is no animal shelter here. Also no vet. )

What is your pets physical challenge?
The fungus was cleared. She's blind in both eyes (due to early cat cold)

What is your pets favorite thing to do?
Batty loves chasing a jingle bell on a string back and forth across the kitchen floor and she can do it until my arm hurts. She enjoys sitting on my shoulder/back of my neck when I'm at the computer. She often sleeps that way. She's very verbal, so I'm aware if she's awake or not! We have three dogs and 24 cats in our family and Batty has a few kitty friends she can cuddle with on a chair and all the dogs adore her and lick her. Her dog friendships formed immediately, but the cat friendships take a little longer.

What is your pets favorite thing to eat?
Kitty food beef or rabbit.

What do you love most about your pet?
She spends more time near her humans, sitting on our laps or on the back of my neck, than most of our other critters.

What has your pet most taught you?
Because my husband's sister Martina, who is a veterinarian in Germany, has two blind cats I knew before meeting Batty how blind cats navigate a room - walking close to the wall. Before Batty, I'd never been around completely blind animals, so this has been a learning experience for me.
Anything else you’d like to share?

If you'd like to link to my husband's recent video of Batty playing in our garden and courtyard, you're welcome to do so.

We have a few pets (cats and a dog, Opi) with one eye functional, so I've been introduced to blindness. I have a great interest in the general subject of disabilities in pets and am proud to be a contributing author to Almost Perfect: Disabled Pets and the People Who Love Them (http://www.wordforgebooks.com/almostperfect/index.html).

Note:  Roberta, Batty and Opi's Mom, writes for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer if you'd like to read her stories.

To read about Opi, you can visit his story on Best Friends Network.

Thank you for sharing Batty and Opi with us!  So glad they have you, Roberta to take care of them.
***If you care for a special needs pet and would like your pet featured, please email me through my website contact. Send a photo and I will forward the questionnaire for your pet to be featured in an upcoming post.***