Dog owners who have owned a senior dog know the telltale signs of aging – suddenly the fella that used to bound two steps at a time up the stairs, starts taking them more slowly eventually sometimes even missing a step. Instead of getting up to greet you, he may sit in his bed and wag his tale. His energy wanes. I remember when I first noticed these signs in my “Little Man” Vader and I worried. Not only did he seem to be slowing down, but his back end also seemed wobbly. I had seen his brother and other relatives suffer a paralysis of their rear legs and I worried that the same would happen to him. I tried to ignore it at first, but eventually my fears became a reality.
Initially, I dealt by carrying him up to his bed at night, but when he grew too heavy I had to make a new bed for him downstairs. I kept him walking as long as I could, but eventually the time came to buy him a doggie cart. I had learned about Eddie’s Wheels a few years earlier when Vader’s brother needed his own cart. I purchased Vader’s custom chair in November of 2011 and while he unfortunately was only able to use it for a short time, it did keep him on his feet and walking until March of the next year when his front legs started to go as well. Even then I would put him in it at least once a day at first and try to help him stand to keep some blood flow to his ever-weakening legs.
It is painful to watch anyone you love suffer and the same can be said of a beloved pet, there is also something sacred in helping someone who is experiencing such suffering. They seem to develop a special grace.
If anyone knows the joys and sorrows of caring for a disabled pet it is Barbara Techel, who recently wrote a book, Through Frankie’s Eyes, about her own dog, Frankie, a dachshund, who suffered from intervertebral disc disease (IVDD). In fact, Barbara’s book is not only dedicated to providing some insight into what this experience is like, but also showing what these special-needs animals can teach us. By witnessing Frankie coping with her disability, Barbara learned many lessons that she could apply to her own life, leading her to find a more authentic existence.
Recently, I had the opportunity to review Barbara’s book, Through Frankie’s Eyes: One Woman’s Journey to her Authentic Self, and the Dog on Wheels who Led the Way. On the heels of that review, I also had the chance to interview Barbara for this blog. You will find the interview below.
As a memoir writing instructor and a former owner of a disabled dog, I was very interested in Barbara and Frankie’s story and wanted to explore her journey with her. Among the issues Barbara and I discussed is the growing interest today in both memoir and dog books, the inspiration to write a memoir and her definition of an authentic life. We also touched on some of the charity and educational work Barbara was able to do with Frankie and how this sweet dachshund touched a number of people’s lives. Please take the time to listen to the interview, I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.
Also, please check out Barbara’s book. It is not only a book for dog lovers, but for anyone looking for inspiration to follow their dreams. For more information on Barbara, Frankie and her new dachshund, Joie, please visit her blog at www.joyfulpaws.com. Also, feel free to comment and let me know what you thought of the interview, I hope it will be one of many to be featured on this blog in the future.
- Frankie the Walk' N Roll Dogs Legacy - chip in to help other special needs dogs with Frankie's Wheelchair Fund
- National Walk 'N Roll Dog Day- A Day Established in Frankie's Honor
- Joyful Paws - Barbara Techel's Blog
- Eddie's Wheels - the place to buy dog carts
- Through Frankie's Eyes - buy on Amazon