Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Learning about Life Through Frankie's Eyes

 Please welcome Barbara Techel, author of Frankie the Walk 'n Roll Dog books and her new memoir, Through Frankie's Eyes. I'm honored to be the wrap-up stop on her book tour, and had the pleasure of posing the following questions:

Me:   I like the idea of seeing ourselves through our dog's eyes. What are some things you think dogs want us to understand about them?

Frankie the Walk 'N Roll Dog's Official Photo

BT: Of course, I can’t really know what they think, but if I had to guess…I think they’d want us to understand that they are quite content with quality time we can give them, walking, playing or just sitting with them. I think just like humans, they’d also want us to know that they need their alone time.
Having had two disabled dachshunds now, I really believe also that they would want us to understand that they don’t like the word pity and what it implies for them if they are disabled. I saw none of that with Frankie, and now Joie (pronounced Joey). Feeling sorry for themselves just seems to not be part of their demeanor, no matter what they are up against.
I think as human’s it is hard for us to see what we perceive as suffering such as an animal that may be disabled. But I honestly think animals don’t think twice about it. I’ve seen this with my dog, Cassie who had terminal cancer, as well as in both my disabled dogs.

Me:   What are some things you'd like your dogs to understand about you, if they could see "through Barbara's eyes?"

BT: Oh wow, what a great question! I personally think dogs see us as we truly are and that they don’t really need to see through our eyes, because they already do.
It reminds me of a quote, though I’m not sure of the exact wording, but something like this:   I want to become the person my dog thinks I am.  We human’s need much more work in accepting ourselves for who we are because it seems that our dog’s already do.

Joie, with Kylie in the background


Me:    I think it's important to understand a dog's individual needs, and how each dog communicates those needs. Although your dog Joie also uses a wheelchair just as your Frankie did, how are her needs and wants different from Frankie's? How does she communicate those needs with you?

BT: It’s funny, because I swear it is a dachshund thing, but Frankie, and now Joie does the same thing when it is close to dinner time. Like clockwork, about a half hour before it’s time to eat, if I’m working in my office, Joie is on what I call “stand-by.” If I move an inch towards the door she scrambles toward it. I barely even move my eyes and she is taking off for the door!  I swear both her and Frankie could tell time.

Joie is only my second dachshund and I’m sure they are all different, but I’m amazed by the similarities between Frankie and now Joie in regards to her needs and how she communicates them. If Joie wants to be picked up she will just stare and stare until I pick her up and hold her. She can pretty relentless with this. Or perhaps I’m just a softie. LOL!

She also sleeps in a soft sided kennel next to my bed each night and does well in it. Frankie hated being in a kennel and would cry and whimper. But come morning time, Joie starts this little clucking noise for me to wake up as she wants out of her kennel and wants to eat. Now! She will quiet down if I tell her to, but like a snooze alarm, 10-minutes later she is at it again.

Another things she does which is very endearing is that about two months ago she started this special ritual with my husband, John. As I’m making dinner or when we are playing Yahtzee (which we love to do on the weekends), Joie has to snuggle between John’s feet.  The minute he sits down at the kitchen table she scampers as fast as she can and he knows he better get his feet ready. She slips her little body between them and hooks her front paws around his feet. It is the cutest thing! Sometimes she just sits there, and sometimes she falls asleep. We now call it her “papa time.”

Me: What is the main thing you want readers to take away from your experiences?

BT: One of the reason’s I wrote Through Frankie’s Eyes is I want others to be open to what our pets can teach us. They have so much to offer. When we try to open ourselves to their world, I believe it can only make our own lives stronger, as well as create this amazing, deep bond.

Also, being a woman, I’ve struggled with what I feel is mainly women’s issues, such as lack of self-confidence and worrying so often what others thought of decisions I made for my life; though this can be the case with men too as I’ve heard from many men who have resonated with my book. But because I’ve learned to move through these feelings of inadequacy to a place of much more confidence and sense of peace in my heart, (mainly because of Frankie and what she taught me), I just had to share my story. I want to encourage others to find their “Frankie,” whatever that may be, and pay attention to what it is they can do to live their lives with more meaning and joy.

I also have another reason for writing this book and that is to continue the work I began with Frankie bringing positive awareness to Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) and dogs in wheelchairs. I want to encourage other pet owners to educate themselves about IVDD and understand it is not a death sentence should it happen to their dog. I also want to encourage others to consider adopting a pet with special needs. They provide so many blessings and they need to be loved just like any other pet.

Me:  What is one thing readers of your book will be surprised to learn about you?

BT: That I am not rich!  LOL!  Though seriously, I have someone who knows of me, but does not really know me personally. But she thought I had lots of money. I talk about some financial struggles in my book and it came as a surprise to this reader.

Interestingly enough, that was one of the hardest parts of the book for me to write about. Mainly because I think we are conditioned to think a certain way in how we should live our lives, have a fat savings account, IRA’s, etc. We are not taught to follow our hearts and search for our purpose. Instead many seem to work their whole life for what we are conditioned to believe is the American dream. But many people seem so unhappy doing just that.

While I don’t know all the answers, and yes, I sometimes worry about the future, I know my heart is happy with where I am with my life right now. When I find myself feeling concerned, I ground myself by being with my dogs and tuning into what is truly important to me. Dog’s have this unbelievable magic in bringing me right back into the moment and reminding me to live each day as it comes.

Barbara Techel
BIO: Barbara Techel is a passionate advocate for dogs with Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) and dogs in wheelchairs. She is also passionate about helping others see their challenges in a positive way. After her dachshund, Frankie suffered a spinal injury she was custom-fitted for a wheelchair and Barbara realized the beautiful opportunity she had to spread a positive message that animals with disabilities can and do live quality lives if given a chance. Her newest book is an inspirational memoir, Through Frankie's Eyes. She is also the award-winning author of the children's book series Frankie, the Walk 'N Roll Dog which are true, inspirational stories about her paralyzed dachshund. In August 2012 she founded National Walk 'N Roll Dog Day in memory of Frankie and in honor of all dogs in wheelchairs. She also started the Frankie Wheelchair Fund which helps dogs who need wheelchairs whose families may not be able to afford them, or for dogs in rescue. To date she has helped fifteen dogs get wheelchairs. She loves spending time with her new “walk ‘n roll dog” Joie, her English Lab Kylie, and husband John.

www.joyfulpaws.com  website and blog

Thank you Barbara for these honest and heartfelt answers. All of us dog lovers agree that a dog can bring us direction, happiness, healing, and of course love. Best of luck with your new book.

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  1. I've heard great things about this book! Great post - thanks so much!

  2. Peggy - great post. I really enjoyed this interview. Talk about similarities, I see some with my Labs. But maybe that ability to tell when it's dinner time is universal.

  3. Thank you so much, Peggy for featuring me on your blog for the last stop on my Joyful Paws Jaunt Blog Tour - such a great way to end my tour with this interview and great questions.

  4. Thank you, SlimDoggy! I think you are right and that it is universal in that many dogs know how to tell time for dinner. :) Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Great interview, ladies. Love the question about seeing "through Barbara's eyes", Peggy. And the "daddy time" story is too sweet!

    So funny about her being able to tell time. Always such a pain when the time changes! :)

  6. Glad you enjoyed it, Jackie! And you are right, that change in time really can mess things up for our four legged creatures. :)

  7. Two French BulldogsMay 28, 2013 at 11:27 PM

    Sweet! Nice interview
    Benny & Lily

  8. Yes I agree! Kelly doesn't seem to care. But Brooks' stomach alarm went off at 5pm every day and he'd start dancing around until he got fed!


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