When you gaze into the eyes of a dog, there’s a goodness and honesty no human can match. Dogs are just so unpretentious, and walk beside us for as long as they can. Frankie the Walk ‘N Roll Dog lived the last six years of her life in a wheelchair. She crossed over the Rainbow Bridge on June, 21, 2012 from Chronic Heart Disease, but this isn’t about the end – it’s about the amazing life of a little dog who never gave up. I spoke recently with Frankie’s mom, Barbara Techel, to learn more about the little Dachshund who stole the hearts of thousands of people she met. You see, Francesca was a therapy dog who used her disability and spirit to teach others, including Barb, about life and why it’s important to savor every moment we have on earth, and never give up.
Barb’s life was changed in 2006 on Easter Sunday while she and her husband, John, vacationed in Florida. Frankie had been left in a local kennel back home in Wisconsin. She had jumped up on her food container and fell. She had hurt her back and couldn’t walk. Frankie was diagnosed with Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD).
Frankie was given only a 10 to 30 percent chance of walking again after surgery. “When I got the call, I was pretty devastated. I had lost my chocolate lab nine months before to bone cancer, and when I got the call, I really thought I was going to lose Frankie. I thought she was going to die and I wasn’t going to see her again.”
After surgery, Frankie was paralyzed. “I couldn’t picture taking care of a handicapped dog. She had incontinence issues also because of the paralysis and that was something I had to learn how to take care of. But I would have done this for a lifetime. We had the most intense, incredible bond I’ve ever had with a dog. My mom helped me see I had to give Frankie a chance, I had to at least try.”
We learn lessons when we’re ready to understand them. Sometimes, it’s our dogs who teach us about ourselves and life. “We live in a town of about 900 people. For my whole life, I worried about what people thought about me and the choices I made, and I was painfully shy for a good part of my life. I remember being so scared to take Frankie out in public in her wheelchair. I was afraid people were going to judge me, that they were going to say it was cruel or mean. I remember watching Frankie, just so happy and rolling around in her little wheels, and it was like her telling me I didn’t need to worry about what others thought of me, and to stand tall and be who I am. From that day forward, my confidence grew by leaps and bounds and I don’t worry anymore about what people think of me.”