This is part two of my interview with children's book author, Barbara Techel (hint: She is my mom!)
Click here if you missed part 1.
What is your favorite thing about being an author?
Very good question, Frankie! I think you pay attention when we visit schools and children ask questions, because this is one that I get asked now and then. Good dog, Frankie. Good dog.
There is so much I like about being an author. It is hard to pick just one thing. But, one thing I really like is knowing that the stories I have written about you are out in the world, making a difference. I may not always hear that they are, but I believe and feel in my heart that your story is helping others.
Another thing I like is all the children you and I have met visiting schools and libraries, as well as when we do Skype visits. I never get tired of telling your story and watching the smiles and curiosity on children’s faces, as well as their endless questions about you, and their accepting and sweet love for you. We have met some pretty special children, and this makes me feel so very blessed. I’m so excited for your story about Jackson, a little boy with a form of cerebral palsy, and your special friendship with him that will be coming out this fall in a book from New World Library, Animals and the Kids Who Love Them. In that story, I grew as a writer and felt so good for it. You see, my little one, I always felt so different and strange that I never had the urge to want children of my own. I felt like something was very wrong with me. But I realized in so many of the children we have met and what we do now sharing your story with them, that this was what God meant for my life. Jackson is one of those special children that helped me to see that even if I don’t have children of my own, I can still nurture and mentor others. Being able to share that I felt odd through the story I wrote about you and Jackson for Animals and the Kids Who Love Them and not being afraid to do so, opened me up even more, and helped me see that this was the path I was meant to take… writing your books, and all the visits we have done, and all the children we have met gave me the courage, as an author, to share something that was very personal for me. But I believe by doing so, it will help others… and that is one of the best things about being an author… helping others see things in a new way, or not feel bad about who they are.
I remember a little boy at Brooklyn Elementary School asking you what you’d rather have, a Frankie that walked or one that did not- can you share with the readers your answer?
That was a powerful moment, wasn’t it, Frankie? I told him that, of course, I wish you could walk normally on your own again. But I also told him that I would not trade one moment with you as a dog in a wheelchair, and all that I have learned, and the many, many blessings that have come into my life because of you. I also told him that someday when you are no longer here (which I pray is many years away!) that I would love another special needs dog.
Moments like those are so special as it reminds me of the power of sharing your story Frankie, and how glad I am that I wrote the books I have about you. It is my hope that by educating our younger generation that more animals with special needs will be given a chance.
I know you think I am pretty special (flashing my fawn like eyes as I say that)… But what do you want most for people to know about special needs pets?
I think what I want them most to know is that they really are not any different than other animals. Yes, they may require different or special care, but all they want is to love and be loved. Just like humans do. Too often I think others take pity on animals with disabilities and it’s not that they perhaps think they are “less than” it’s just that some perceive this as imperfect or sad. But nothing in this world is perfect.
I still recall vividly two months after your diagnoses and the fact your back legs showed no signs of improvement and how the reality set in that it was likely you would not walk on your own again- I began to feel sorry for you and me. But I realized one day that this was not going to solve anything, but only make things worse and harder to bear. I could feel sorry for you the rest of your life, but how would that have helped either of us thrive? We have to find the good in each situation and work with that- because there is no perfect, no matter what your situation.
I think in our efforts to be perfect, and to have perfect pets and perfect children we miss out on the real value of life and all it has to teach us.
Each morning when I get out your doggie stroller and we go for our walk, I find myself so in love with watching you see the world… you don’t care that you can’t physically do it yourself- you are still being you- being a dog- watching every bird, squirrel, butterfly, and bunny with intent, and curiosity. Your ears fly in the wind, your nose lifts to the sky, and your eyes close half way as you soak in all the sweetness of a new day. You may have “special needs” but it is not what I see when I observe you in moments like this… what I see is that animals really do get what life is about, and the more I see of it, the more I want of it too…. And how I would have likely missed out on all this, if it were not for you, Frankie, my little love dog on wheels.