Thursday, May 8, 2008

Animals and Their Amazing Adversity Lessons

Trying to picture in my minds eye, Frankie, my dachshund moving with wheels did not compute. I immediately attached my human emotions to the situation. Without the use of her hind legs I believed Frankie would be depressed, and would not want to go on with life. I could not have been more wrong. This is a case where I am happy to shout at the top of my lungs, "I was wrong!"
A recent story from The Associated Press stirred within me deep emotions of the day I almost made a fatal mistake. My first initial thought when I was told Frankie might be permanently paralyzed is that I would have to put her down. The story talks about how historically when an animal becomes severely injured we put that animal to sleep. We believe they can't possibly overcome adversity. That thought is changing and changing rapidly.
As Frankie began to heal I realized she was still Frankie. She adapted almost immediately to realizing she had to move differently than before. She didn't wake up in the morning and feel sorry for herself. She accepted, adjusted and lived in the moment. I, being the human, had to adjust my thought process and realize Frankie was still the same dog. I had to let her just be a dog. It was not easy at first. I wanted to do all I could to help her regain the use of her back legs. I thought this would make her complete and happy as before. That is not to say we shouldn't do what we can for our animals. But, there comes a point where acceptance has to settle in.
The MSNBC story talks about a dachshund who escaped his home, was hit by a car, severed a sciatic nerve, crushed his pelvis, and broke his leg, along with many other injuries. Previous to this injury he was a therapy dog. The owner knew how much the little dog loved to run and thought he never would run again. After amputation, the owner took her dog swimming, which helped strengthen his legs. He now gets along on three legs and continues his therapy work. Because of his situation he now makes a difference in the lives of patients who have had their legs amputated. Dogs bring out a loving, fighting spirit in humans and patients are responding with belief in themselves that they too, can overcome adversity.
I don't dwell on almost making the mistake of putting Frankie to sleep that day, but instead focus on moving forward and making a difference. Sharing her story with others will hopefully help others when faced with a devastating pet injury. Take your emotions out of the equation if you can. Animals don't give thought to pity, sorrow or what lies ahead. They accept what is and in turn, teach us no matter what, life is worth living.
Barbara Techel is the author of "Frankie, the Walk 'N Roll Dog." A true, inspirational story about a dachshund whose life started out just like any other dog walking on all four paws until a spiny injury leaves her paralyzed. Frankie is custom fit for a wheelchair and learns to keep on rolling. Her column "For the Love of Animals" appeared in the Elkhart Lake, Depot Dispatch paper from 2005-2007. Barbara won an honorable mention award for her story, "Cassie and Frankie Inspire a Writer" which was sponsored by best selling authors Linda and Allen Anderson of Angel Animals Network. She shares her home with her loving husband John and her current furry companions, Kylie, Frankie and Dani. Barbara is dedicated to animals and believes they teach us valuable life lessons. For more information on Barbara visit her website at

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