Living Worlds Apart – Love of Special Needs Dachshunds Brings Us Together

paulo, ellen and me

Gidget, me, Paulo and Ellen at our local cafe in Elkhart Lake, Off the Rail

When I decided to take a leap of faith and write my children’s books about my dachshund, Frankie, in a wheelchair, and then my memoir Through Frankie’s Eyes, little did I know who I’d meet along the way.

I just knew I had to tell Frankie’s story. I just knew I wanted to make a difference. I just knew I wanted to give others hope.

Writing my books has connected me to some truly wonderful people. Paulo and Ellen are two of those people – friends, really, because we will forever share a bond because of our love of dachshunds.

Not only that, but both our dogs came down with Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) and needed a wheelchair to help them move around.

Paulo, half way around the world, lives in Brazil and found out about me, Frankie, and our story. Initially he came across me via the great organization, Dodgerslist which helps pet owners whose dogs have been diagnosed with IVDD.

I still remember receiving an email from him asking if I could send my memoir to him in Brazil even though it was going to cost him quite a bit to have me ship it internationally. I was so honored and touched.

Paulo is Italian, but his parents feared Hitler and what was happening in Germany during that reign of terror. His parents traveled to Holland thinking they’d be safe there, but after crossing into Holland without even realizing it, they feared Hitler and his army could do the same just as easily.

His father wanted an ocean between him and his wife and that terrible time in history, so they ventured to Brazil. This is where Paulo was born and has lived for most of his life.

He attended an American school in Brazil which helped him to get into UW-Madison, Wisconsin, where he studied for 12-years.  To think he was only two hours away from me during that time!

But it would first be yesterday that we met in person right here in my small village of 950 people in Elkhart Lake.

Being a car enthusiast he has been to Elkhart Lake a few times and the last time in 2011 to see the races at our well known track, Road America. When I think about the fact that he was here about 9 months before Frankie passed away, I wish he could have met her.

But it wasn’t meant to be and it was only when his Poncho went down with IVDD that he discovered my story and the connection was made.

Back in Elkhart Lake this weekend for the spring vintage car races at Road America, he looked me up on Facebook and sent me a message—could we meet for coffee?

It was sunny and in the upper 60s yesterday and perfect for us to sit outside. I was able to bring Gidget along for him and his wife, Ellen to meet, and their friend Tom, who joined us also.

The spirits of Frankie and Poncho were in my heart as we sat together, talking about our beloved dachshunds and getting to know each other better.

paulo and poncho

Paulo and his belated, beloved Poncho

I really didn’t want the time to end because being with them felt familiar in that our journey’s so similar. But most of all, the love we shared for our special needs dogs is something that has changed us all for the better.

And what brought us together even though we live worlds apart.

It was a magical morning and a memory I’ll carry in my heart right along with Frankie who resides snug and sound as the little dog on wheels who made this all possible.

Safe travels home my friends always, Paulo and Ellen!

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Remembering Fondly, Donna – Frankie’s Visits with Her

Remembering Fondly, Donna - Frankie's Visits with Her

Donna was one of the residents Frankie and I regularly visited once a month for three years while Frankie was alive and a therapy dog at Libby’s House, Senior Assisted Living Facility.

I was so inspired by our visits that I wrote my second children’s book about our time there and the friends Frankie made.

Donna loved to stroke Frankie’s ears. If it would have been possible she would have held Frankie for hours on end. She loved her time with Frankie.

I remember Donna as so kind, always a smile on her face with an upbeat attitude. She passed away this week.  I’m grateful for the sweet and wonderful memories of her and Frankie.

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Awaken -Wednesdays with the Wisdom of Dog

Awaken - Wednesdays with the Wisdom of Dog

As I sat outside on my deck today for just a few moments, I was reminded of all the life going on around me.

How easily distracted we can become in our everyday lives and miss this.

But spring is like an awakening and a reminder to live a more conscious life. I watched as Gidget chased around the deck after the noise of the birds in the shrubs.

And Kylie sensed the new smells in the air as her snout lifted toward the sky.

And then I saw the leaves dancing in the wind.

And the hummingbird hover above the feeder.

And a butterfly gracefully flutter by.

And the sun soaking into my skin.

And geese honking in the distance that are nesting in the field behind our house.

The petals of flowers that are opening right before me even though I can’t really see it happening – but it is.

I sat there, just like Kylie and Gidget do so instinctively. So awake to what is around them.

Such a beautiful way in which to be reminded of seeing grace right in the place that you are – and nature and pets as our teachers.

Awaken - Wednesdays with the Wisdom of Dog

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