Elkhart Lake’s Barb Techel holds “Frankie,” her miniature dachshund whose back legs were paralyzed in a fall. A cart helps Frankie get around and visit facilities such as area nursing homes.
Elkhart Lake’s Barb Techel holds “Frankie,” her miniature dachshund whose back legs were paralyzed in a fall. A cart helps Frankie get around and visit facilities such as area nursing homes.
Barbara and Francesca know a thing or two about life changing events.

First you walk, and then you roll.

When Barb Techel first laid eyes on her miniature daschund "Frankie," she knew they would have a special bond. What developed after a paralyzing accident leaving Frankie immobile from her waist down did not stop Barb cold in her tracks, or from loving her little "tweenie weenie." Together they found the inner strength to overcome the challenge of spinal paralysis and journeyed through an obstacle course of their own.

As any good mother will do for her child-pet, Barb emotionally worked through the grief of Frankie's injury and put her best feet forward finding resources and remedies for her fawn-eyed friend.

Barb not only mobilized her faithful companion, she gave herself the tools to effectively talk and teach others, especially children, about disabilities, handicaps and how to conquer challenges. Barb set her creative wheels in motion (after Frankie got her's) and decided to write a children's non-fiction book titled "Frankie, the Walk 'N Roll Dog."

Although her dog might be short in stature, the message was hardly a tall tale. This true story based on the life of Frankie before her accident and how she deals with her mobility after therapy and veterinarian visits is an inspirational, award winning vehicle of its own.

Barb just translates and types

In Frankie's "own words" she tells her story of how her injury happened. Barb merely translated and did all of the typing. Frankie explains her time at a kennel she visited while the Techels were vacationing Easter weekend in 2006.

"Yvonne, the caring lady at the kennel, checks on us often during the day. On Sunday she feeds us her lunch and says, 'I'll be back in an hour to let you out to play.' I simply cannot wait and start to romp about in my kennel. I jump up onto my container of food, but it tips over and I fall hard on to the cement. I feel sharp swords pierce my back. Then I lose feeling in my back legs. When Yvonne comes an hour later, I'm not moving. I tilt my head to the side, looking into Yvonne's eyes but do not move an inch. She realizes something is very wrong with me. She starts crying and calls my Aunt Lori right away."

The Techels received a call from Barb's sister-in-law Lori and traveled back home to a much different Frankie.

"I was devastated," Barb recalled. "I went through every emotion possible," she added. Because of her deep devotion to her animals and personal belief that all life is meaningful, Barb searched for purposeful significance and a way to bring hope and inspiration to those who face challenges. The story of her dog's journey through a life changing moment, and subsequent opportunities to spread a positive message, have earned her several awards including the 2008 Best Book Awards by USA Book News and a finalist position for the 2008 Indie Excellence Awards.

Finding her purpose in Frankie

"Frankie ruptured a disk in her back and became permanently paralyzed. Frankie taught me through her zest for life, even though either now in a dogcart, I could feel sorry for what happened, or I could look for a blessing in our situation... My purpose had found me. I was meant to share Frankie's story with others through her children's book, 'Frankie, the Walk 'N Roll Dog.' Teaching children, as well as adults, that we can overcome challenges has become a passionate mission of mine. With Frankie by my side, I find blissful joy in sharing her story," Barb adds.

Barb and Frankie enjoy public appearances and speaking to groups of children. The duo will make a special appearance at the Kiel Public Library on Tuesday, Nov. 18 starting at 6:30 p.m. to talk about their journey together and how Frankie utilizes her new wheels.

It might be a dog's life, but it's a good one. Additionally, Barb and Frankie continue to volunteer their time with hospice patients and visiting nursing care facilities. Perhaps a sequel to Frankie's first story might keep the ball rolling, translating into another chapter in the lives of Barb and Frankie.

"There is nothing I cannot do," says Frankie. "I will always keep on rolling and putting my best paw forward," she adds. She'll just leave all of the typing to Barb.

Visit Barb and Frankie at www.joyfulpaws.com to see their extensive listing of appearances, biographical infomation and other publications and information regarding apparatus for handicapped pets, degenerative disc disease in dachshunds, links to magazines featuring Frankie, newsletters and blogs.

The Techel family lives in Elkhart Lake in their home/cottage in the village.