Frankie Made Many Friends at the Elkhart Lake Farmer’s Market

The last five summers Frankie and I were a staple at the farmer’s market.  People would come from other cities just to visit Frankie if they knew she was going to be there.  The vendors and community embraced her.  In many ways she became Elkhart Lake’s community dog. Everywhere I went in my village if I didn’t have Frankie with me on a particular day, they’d ask how she was doing. So many loved her like their very own.  The news of her passing was in our monthly paper, The Depot Dispatch, which came out this past Tuesday.

It was hard for me to venture out to the market without her today– knowing I’d have to talk with others about her and re-live the details of her passing. I wasn’t sure I was up for it.  But I knew I had to be there for each of them because of all the caring and kindness they showed to us over the years.  And Frankie taught me to be positive no matter what and to put one foot in front of the other…. so off to the market I went.

Many hugs and tears were shed– a few had not yet heard of the news, so breaking it to them would have them feeling bad for asking “Where’s Frankie today?”  Many asked if I would be getting another dog.  One vendor said, “You know, Frankie completed you.”  That warmed my heart. Indeed she did. While I feel rather “naked” not having her in front of me in her doggie stroller, or having her in my basket on my bike, I’ve found a completeness about myself the last few years because of all she has taught me.

I’ve also made so many new friends because of Frankie while we were at the market. People I may have never, ever met if not for my wheelie dog, and now my life forever enriched because of it.  One such friend named Morgan who has special challenges of her own who we met several years back who is now going to be in the 6th grade I believe.  I got to see her today, hug her, and thank her for the sweet note she sent me about Frankie…

Dear Barbara,

Frankie will always stay in our hearts, our minds, our memories, and our friendship.

Frankie will stay in heaven forever.

I miss and love Frankie just like a family.

Also I have some memory pictures that are on here.

Your Friend Truly,


She also painted this picture below of Frankie, which things like this used to be quite the challenge for her– but look how far she has come!  Morgan’s mom told me in a note that Frankie was such an inspiration to her.  And Morgan is an inspiration to me.

Each step, just like the visiting the market today is a step in healing… another step in moving forward and continuing to embrace all the good there is in life.







The Poop Fairy

We love to laugh in our house. It helps to have a husband who has quite the sense of humor.

Though I’ve had my ups and downs and waves of grief since Frankie’s passing, I do welcome the laughter my husband, John provides.  I didn’t want to laugh at first, but thanked him the other day for keeping things light when I felt I couldn’t come out of my sadness.

He reminded me about the “Poop Fairy” and I thought I just need to share this with all of you and provide some laughter to you, too.

You see, when you live with a dog that has IVDD, often times they have incontinence issues.  While you can do your best to be proactive with that– those little poops can have a mind of their own some days.

And so it is that the Poop Fairy came to be.  It was early one morning as I scrambled to pick up the small little poops that were escaping Frankie’s behind. As I had one hand with tissue full of the captured poop escapees, in the other hand I had the air freshener I was spraying as I floated my way through the bedroom to the bathroom to dispose of the little buggers.  John opened his eyes just in time to see me “floating through the bedroom” and said, “I think I just saw the Poop Fairy go by!”  I thought I was going to pee in my pants from laughing so hard.

After he reminded me about the Poop Fairy the other day I said,  “The Poop Fairy just may return some day– have no fear.”

While at Bookworm Gardens yesterday and shopping in their gift shop I spotted the “Flying Fairy” (photo above). I just had to have it for my writing cottage.  When I brought it home I said to John, “If you are missing the Poop Fairy feel free to come out to my cottage and visit the Flying Fairy any time.”

You just gotta have humor in life.

This post is dedicated to my sweet hubby for all his support in the work I so love to do with bringing awareness to wheelie dogs … and for providing laugher that fills my soul with love.  I love you!!

A Visit to Frankie’s Garden at Bookworm Gardens

Dawn and I at Frankie’s garden

I believe many of you know of the special children’s book garden we have in my area called Bookworm Gardens. It opened in October of 2010.

When I first heard about the planning of the gardens I had just come out with my first book about Frankie. I contacted the founder, Sandy, and asked if there was a possibility for Frankie’s story to be represented in the gardens. She said an enthusiastic, “Oh yes! Of course!”

With the help of my mom and the Richardson foundation they sponsored Frankie’s garden. My husband John lovingly built this dog house to represent Frankie’s story. Sandy had a stone likeness of Frankie shipped over on a boat from Italy. It still cracks me up to think about how a dog with a German heritage came over on a boat from Italy! John and I then purchased a used wheelchair from Eddie’s Wheels and John custom-fit the wheelchair to the Frankie statue.

I’ll never forget the day my husband and one of his construction crew guys, Joe, wheeled the doghouse down to it’s beautiful place in the garden. I was, and continue to be so honored to have Frankie represented there for children to enjoy for many years to come. I also knew in the back of mind that this place would someday provide me some peace and comfort when Frankie was no longer here.

Well I believe everything happens for a reason and it was no coincidence that a very special lady named Dawn, and her sister and Mom had planned a trip to Elkhart Lake June 24-27 and little did we know we’d be saying goodbye to Frankie days before that.

Dawn is Mom to a very special little boy named Jackson that I would have never met if not for Frankie. On a trip over three years ago to Elkhart Lake and a local resort, Dawn saw Frankie’s book in the gift shop and bought it for him. You see, Jackson has special needs also and needs to wear a brace on his leg. After returning to her state of Illinois and reading the book to Jackson, he was able to understand that like Frankie, he too, needed to wear his leg brace to help him be the best he can be. A few weeks later we met Jackson and his family. When Jackson turned five we drove to Illinois to surprise him for his birthday. Jackson and Frankie shared a very special connection– and as you can imagine, Jackson’s heart broke when Dawn shared with Jackson that Frankie had died.

Jackson with Frankie at this 5th birthday

Dawn, her sister and mom and this trip planned long before we knew Frankie would no longer be here. Dawn heard of Frankie’s passing and had emailed me, also sharing they were going to be here and were planning to visit Bookworm Gardens. I couldn’t say a definitive yes at first that I would want to visit the gardens to soon after Frankie was gone. But when I thought about all that I believe in, I knew this was a sign from Frankie that I needed to go and she sent Dawn to be the special person who would make this easier and so much more special.

So it was not a sad day visiting Frankie’s garden. The garden’s were full of happy, joyful children running about, as well as a special day camp of special activities in full swing with the Educational Director, Beth, which was happening right next to Frankie’s garden. As we watched the children line up getting ready to head on over to Charlotte’s Web barn my heart felt so happy to see the smiles on the children’s faces. Each child had a large white sticker on their chest with their name on it. As the children started to walk by one little boy with very blonde hair skipped by and… you’ll never believe it… yes, his name was Frankie.

So as I wrote yesterday on my post, the gifts continue to come from Frankie… I suspect they will for some time to come. I’m reminded how amazing this thing called life really is, even when the physical of someone you love is gone… they are truly still here if you look for the signs.

It was such a wonderful day with Dawn, her sister Lori, and her mom Dorothy and I know it was to be played out just as it did. And on a side note, stay tuned for a very special day that Bookworm Gardens is planning in honor of Frankie. I’ll be meeting with the Educational Director in the upcoming weeks to help plan the event. Though my heart still hurts… it also sings for all the good things that continue to unfold. I’m truly blessed.