Wagging tales: Local author finds meaning after pet’s passing
This is one in an occasional series of stories to be published during the holiday season about Sheboygan-area residents who have “A Reason to Celebrate.”
It’ll be the second Christmas Barbara Techel will celebrate without her beloved wheelchair-bound dachshund, Frankie, and the first without Joie, another disabled dog she adopted after Frankie died. But the Elkhart Lake author says she still has plenty to be thankful for this holiday season.
Techel and Frankie were well-known for years through her children’s books, including “Frankie the Walk ‘N Roll Dog,” as well as her web site and newsletters. She also had Frankie certified to be a therapy dog and regularly paid visits to people living in hospice care or stopped at area schools for speaking engagements.
But Frankie died in the summer of 2012. In February she memorialized Frankie in a new book, “Through Frankie’s Eyes: One Woman’s Journey To Her Authentic Self and the Dog on Wheels Who Led the Way,” which recently won the Royal Dragonfly Book Award for literary excellence.
The book tells the story of Frankie and the lessons Techel learned from her dog.
“I was so afraid that people would judge me that I put my dog in a wheelchair,” Techel said. “But it really taught me, because I would watch her and she didn’t realize she had a wheelchair. It was her tool to live her best life.
“And I can remember, I can still see it in my head, she was rolling around on the grass and I just looked at her and I thought, ‘Oh my god, the lesson for me is to be proud of who I am and live by how I want to live my life and not how society might determine that or others might think my life should be,’” she said.
When Frankie died, Techel decided to adopt another special needs dachshund, Joie, who had the same intervertebral disc disease as Frankie, which caused her to need a dog wheelchair as well.
Little did Techel know that Joie’s time with her would be so short-lived. She adopted Joie on Oct. 13, 2012 and she died a little less than a year later in August.
“It was really hard for me to lose Joie so quickly after Frankie and I really kind of went into myself and I thought, ‘What the heck? I don’t understand why that happened,’” Techel said.
What helped her come out of her grief was the realization that there were other dogs she could help. Just a few weeks ago, Techel adopted Gidget, another special needs dachshund.
Photo credit Kali Thiel of The Sheboygan Press
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