rescue dogs

Joie, My Wheelchair-Bound Dachshund, Featured in “The Surface” Movie. Great Movie. Great Honor.

Joie, My Wheelchair-Bound Dachshund Featured in "The Surface" Movie.

Standing outside the Marcus Cinema Theatre in Appleton, WI

Yesterday as we got into the car to head to the Marcus Cinema Theatre in Appleton about one hour away, John looked at me and said, “Here we go. We are going to see Joie!”

I had been trying to hold it together all morning – the excitement, the anticipation, the wishing she could have been here for this, and how proud I am of her – and in those words John said, my emotions all came to the surface.

A mixture of happy and sad all rolled into what we call bittersweet.

Memories flashed through my mind from the day Joie and I we were on set of The Surface movie in August of 2013 to now here—almost two years later, and all the time and effort that goes into making a movie, finally here, on the big screen.

The day before we headed to the theatre I printed out the photo of Joie that was taken on the set and put it in a frame. It was my plan to have a picture taken of me holding her photo next to the poster at the theatre.

As we got comfortable in our seats at the cinema I felt like I was holding my breath as the movie began. I also didn’t want to blink for fear of missing Joie’s few seconds of fame when she rolled across the screen.

Based on a true story and written and produced by Jeff Gendelman who persevered 18 years to bring this story to life, is one of two ordinary men, each at the end of their rope who meet in the middle of the vast, cold waters of Lake Michigan.

The Surface movie

Each with struggle’s of their own, they come to find in each other that they are not alone in those moments when one feels at the very bottom of tough challenges life can hand us.

I felt connected to the story line with my own ordinary challenges I’ve faced over the years. But especially with the more challenging ones for me which have been caring for my first dachshund, Frankie who became paralyzed.

But from that challenge came a calling I couldn’t ignore and I had to tell Frankie’s story through the books I’ve written about her.

From that love of Frankie came another calling to adopt another paralyzed dachshund after Frankie passed away in June of 2012.

Joie would come to me from the Oregon Dachshund Rescue, flown here by volunteer Linda.

To think in those ten short months she was with me that she’d take part in the filming of a movie still makes me shake my head in wonder and smile.

As one of the main characters, Kelly (played by Chris Mulkey) reflects on his life in a flashback, though I wasn’t sure when Joie’s part would be shown, I knew in that moment that this was it. My heart began to beat faster.

As the film moves into that scene, the camera angle shows Joie from the front, then the back, as she rolls down the front hallway toward Kelly who is leaving for work that morning. Kelly’s daughter played by Jeff’s daughter Megan, comes bounding down the stairs, scoops Joie up in her arms and kisses her dad (Kelly) goodbye.

End of flashback. It went so fast but yet as if in slow motion as I saw my sweet little girl, roll down that hallway just like she often did in our home.

“Oh Joie, how I’d love to hold you just one more time.” I thought silently. I was giddy with excitement while at the same time felt a moment of grief and sadness — but most of all I felt so so proud.

Another part in the movie, unbeknownst to me is when Kelly tells the other character, Mitch (played by Sean Astin) that he needs to get a dog. Kelly then tells Mitch about his dog, a dachshund, shot in the back when out for walk with him in the woods, but that he survives.

At first I thought they got it wrong that Joie was a girl.

And then when the film credits rolled I understood. In the list of the cast was Joey, played by Joie the dachshund…and then in parenthesis (in memorium).

This is when I thought I’d lose it because I was deeply touched they acknowledged Joie’s passing.

And I guess it’s not everyday that you can also say, hey, there in the special thanks section was my name, Barbara Techel of

Wow. So surreal. So fun. Such an honor. A real honor.

I saw Joie in my mind’s eye as I meditated this morning. She was standing there before me as I looked into her adorable little face. She wasn’t in her wheelchair, but healed and standing on all four paws. A beautiful light was shining down on her and I could feel how happy she is as she turned around and slowly walked away, fading into the light.

While she could only be with me for ten short months before she succumbed to the challenges of IVDD the gift of her will remain in my heart for a very long time.

I’ve put together an album on Facebook when we were on the set of The Surface.

I’ve heard from many of you wanting to know when The Surface will be playing in your local area.  Linda, rescue volunteer who brought Joie to me, contacted The Surface. This is what she heard back, “Later this summer it will screen on VOD across the country, and a DVD release will follow down the road.”

I’ll be sure to announce here and on Facebook too when I hear more.

Picking the Perfect Name for Our Animal Friends.

sepiaI’m always fascinated by how people name their dogs. I especially love hearing what people name their dachshunds. If I see or meet a dachshund, the first thing I have to know is their name. Maybe it is because doxie’s are such little characters that their name just seems to immediately add to their personality, and most times, fits them quite perfectly.

I’ve named all my dogs. Even when I adopted Joie who was formerly Mylee, Joie just felt like the right name for her.

But Gidget is different. She already had her name and I really loved it. Not only did I fall head over heels in love with her from the moment I saw her, but her name just seemed to fit her. I didn’t want to change it.

Many of you may recall the TV show, Gidget, starring Sally Field. I looked up the words to the theme song and thought it would be fun to share with you. I think you will agree. Gidget is absolutely a Gidget!

“If you’re in doubt about angels being real, I can rearrange to change any doubts you feel.

Wait’ll you see my Gidget!

You’ll want her for your Valentine. You’re gonna say she’s all that you adore but stay away Gidget is spoken for.

You’re gonna find that Gidget is mine!”

How did you decide on a name for your dog?  I’d love to hear in the comment section below!