Friday, July 10, 2009

Barbara Techel & Frankie

Who is in the photo at right?

That is me, Barbara Techel, author of “Frankie, the Walk ‘N Roll Dog,” therapy dog team volunteer, publisher, and lover of dogs, along with my sweet dachshund, Frankie, who is known as the “walk ‘n roll dog.” Now you may be thinking Frankie is a boy, but she is a girl. Her real name is Francesca, but I call her Frankie for short (no pun intended!).

Frankie will be 10-years old on August 20. When I brought her home as a pup I thought I was getting a miniature dachshund, but she kept growing. I later came to find out she is a tweenie (mix between a mini and standard size). So she is my tweenie weenie! Frankie became paralyzed at the age of six so she now rolls happily through life in her doggie wheelchair. She spreads hope and inspiration to school kids, as well as nursing homes, hospital and hospice patients.

What’s the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Now I realize this blog is titled, “Coffee with a Canine” but I must fess up and let you know I don’t drink coffee. I am a tea drinker. So the occasion is making myself a cup before I head out with Frankie to my writing cottage which I call, “MySpace.calm.” We were recently featured in an online magazine called Sheic Space if you’d like to check it out and see pictures plus learn more about us.

What’s brewing?

I often have my Mighty Leaf, lightly caffeinated green tea in my favorite tea cup and saucer, which is my favorite color, periwinkle. I bought it at a garage sale from a lady who is a terrific chef! I always put a splash of lemon juice in my tea as well.

Any goodies to go with the coffee? Or in your case… tea.

Nope, usually not. Unless it is afternoon tea and then I will sneak something chocolate if I have it on hand, or a cookie.

Any treat for Frankie on this occasion?

Again, nope, usually not. Being a dachshund in a wheelchair, we have to really watch her weight.

How did Frankie come to be united with you?

Well looking back I believe it was meant to be that Frankie became mine. I could not explain a good reason why I wanted a dachshund to my husband when he said, “Why do you want a wiener dog?” All I could say is, “I just do.” I bought Frankie from a breeder as a pup, after searching and searching for a red dachshund. They were hard to find where I live. Frankie was the last one left of the litter. I fell head over heels in love when I saw her promenade down the driveway. She was only the size of a guinea pig. After all we have been through, and knowing what I know now, I believe with all my heart she was meant to be mine.

How did Frankie get her name?

If you remember the song from the 1940’s, "Frankie and Johnnie" then you will know that Frankie in the song is a female. The song was also made into a movie by the same name. I just think it is a great, fun, sporty name for a girl. I had Frankie’s name picked out long before I got her, because I just loved the name.

Where do you usually take Frankie out for fresh air?

In the summer Frankie loves to hang out on our deck which is partially shaded by a big tree. When I am in my writing cottage I can see her through my Victorian screen door soaking up a spot of sun. She loves to be warm!

I also often take Frankie into town to do my errands and we go either on my bike (she rides in a front basket attached to my bike) or she rides in her doggie stroller.

Where is the best nearby dog park?

Well, we don’t have one that I know of. I’d probably be a bit apprehensive to take her there though being in her wheels and too many dogs around. Besides she barks up a storm when she sees other dogs… especially ones bigger than she is… which is most!

Is Frankie’s bark worse than her bite?

Ha! Most definitely yes! She has the loudest bark for such a little dog. Dachshund’s have a reputation for being “land sharks.” But people often comment on how calm Frankie is… that is, until she barks!

Tennis ball, Frisbee, stick,…?

Frankie loves tennis balls! You throw it and she chases after it…. Only to catch it, stop and begin to chew it up. So much for a game of fetch!

Would Frankie rather catch a squirrel, a cat, a car, her tail, the mailman,…?

Ooooo, Frankie just loves squirrels and bunnies!! She will carry on and carry on, whimpering and whimpering if she can’t run to try and catch one! If she is on the deck, which is enclosed and she sees a bunny, her whole body shakes wanting to get that rascally rabbit!

What’s the most embarrassing thing Frankie ever did?

Boy, do I love this question! Because Frankie is paralyzed in her hind quarters that also means she does not have control over her bladder and bowels. I learned to express them for her. Well, I’m normally pretty good about timing when she has to go. We do 2-4 presentations a week for schools, libraries, etc., plus our volunteer therapy dog work, so I pride myself in the fact we have not had an “accident” in public…. yet.

Well one day I stopped to visit my friend at her office. I brought Frankie in with me, because she adores her. I was holding Frankie in my arms when all of a sudden I felt her back end begin to shake… and I just KNEW she was going to poop… and I was on the 2nd floor of an office building and would never make it out the door in time… and before I could react, the poop hit the floor… PLOP! PLOP! PLOP! I frantically searched the room for tissue and a plastic bag, which I found. The evidence was taken away, as we left with our tail between our legs… but unfortunately the scent lingered long after we left. My friend and I still laugh about it… but I sure was embarrassed!!

Learn more about Frankie and Barbara Techel at the Joyful Paws website and blog, and at Frankie's blog and Facebook page.

Frankie's new book, "
Frankie, the Walk 'N Roll Therapy Dog Visits Libby's House," is due for release around January 2010.

--Marshal Zeringue