June 23, 2012

It has been well over a year since I have posted on the blog!  Although I don't post on the blog does not mean that I'm not out there working with the animals.  I'm not comfortable blogging about clients and this really was a way for me to journal about my TTouch Training.

Things have been very busy.  Not only did I certify in Tellington TTouch last Summer but I have gone on to build my business and even have a division of my "hands on" work that does custom blending of Essential Oils, called MakeNscents!

So now TouchNpaws' focus is working with animals with physical needs.  I see clients that are recouping from illness, injury or surgery.  I still love working with the seniors and geriatric dogs and hospice situations too.

TouchNpaws now offers what I call "Touch Modalities"
  • Tellington TTouch
  • Therapeutic Massage
  • Rehabilitative Massage
  • Reiki
Please consider joining my Facebook Page at TouchNpaws on Facebook - Click Here You will be able to keep up with all the stories about the shelter dogs there.  Be sure to click "Like" so I know you are there with me.

Here is a quick story from a shelter dog I worked with that explains how I use the 3 modalities together to benefit the dog:

Let me tell you about my time with Annice and what I learned about her.

First let me say she is a big 'ol love bug and would make the BEST lap dog for a quiet household. We don't know her past story and really, what does it matter? What we do know is she loves people and loves being touched. She is also very cautious of things and very concerned about new things.

Walking her into the building after morning kennel cleanings can be quite a time consuming event. She takes gentle encouragement to move a few steps. Then something concerns her and she hesitates. Today I was walking along with her and her handler when Annice saw a parked van that made her stop. In a very happy voice I went to the van and patted it. I said, "Oh this? This isn't scary." Annice came prancing over to check it out. Good girl.

Later she stopped again and I put a Thundershirt on her to see if it would make a difference. Never know until you try. Well, after a minute or two she still didn't come and it was hot to I took it off. The interesting thing was she walked the rest of the way back without stopping! Was it the Thundershirt? Not sure. I asked her handler to experiment with it this week and see.

The next hour I spent with Annice in her kennel. Here is another reason I love the modalities I've chosen to use. Annice has some old scars and some not so old boo boos. She also has trust and some concerns. And then there is that whole stress thing that happens in a shelter even on great days!

For Annice I used TTouch initially to gain her trust and capture a bit of a bond with her. Built on that and used massage techniques to make sure her scars are mobile and not affixed to underlying tissues that may cause her pain later or impede facial expression. Then we did more TTouch to make her feel good and address the fear stored at the cellular level. Finally a lot of Reiki for her to use how she sees fit.

Wonderful morning at the shelter!


Each week I hold a distance Reiki session that anyone can join but the dogs of Escondido Humane Society are always included at no charge.  Annice will be included in the group until she finds her new home.

February 26, 2011

Tellington TTouch Graduation

March 2009 I embarked on my journey to become a Tellington TTouch Companion Animal Practitioner.

I created this blog to help me remember all the important moments along the way.  Looking back through the posts I'm filled with so many emotions.  Remembering each and every one of the Animal Teachers that have touched my life and helped me learn to help them brings me smiles and tears.

Some of these teachers have crossed the Rainbow Bridge but not without leaving a tremendous impact on my life.  I thank them all.

Shelter Sam - Rainbow Bridge

One of the really important things I wanted to happen before my graduation was to get Marley into a training session so I could get some ideas for his dog reactivity.  The only way for that to happen was to host a session here in San Diego.  We did that in a big way.  Our class here was huge!  We had a great mix of junior and senior students.

I was blessed to have Kathy Cascade, who taught my first classes, as my final instructor.  My mentor, Cynde Van Vleet, was here to assist the class and I learned so very much.  Marley was a wonderful student hanging on her every word.

February 24, 2011 I completed my formal training!  I have reached my goal and am now a fully certified Practitioner.

Because I will be focusing on building my business, TouchNpaws - studying Aromatherapy and concentrating my shelter work on a group of dogs we are not allowed to discuss in public arenas, it is time to give my blog a rest.

Looking at the statistical data that has been captured every time someone clicks on my page I'm tremendously humbled.  There have been well over 4,000 unique visitors.  I have had readers from all over the United States and Canada.  People from the UK and all over Europe, Italy, South Africa, Russia, India, Portugal, Netherlands, Greece, Australia, Belgium, Latvia, Korea, New Zealand, Indonesia - and these countries only include the latest 500 hits to the blog!  How you lovely people heard of me I have no idea but I'm amazed that so many have been interested in my learning process.

I hope some of these animals have left their paw print on your heart.

February 4, 2011

Super quiet on the blog!

I have been asked by a few why things have been so quiet on the blog lately.

Well the truth of the matter is that I'm not supposed to share information about the dogs I work with at the shelter that have not yet passed their behavior tests.  They can't be talked about until they are in adoptions.  By the time they are in adoptions I'm working with new dogs that haven't yet made it.

Still working on the logistics of how best to share the wonderful work Tellington TTouch is doing to change the lives of these dogs without breaking the rules.  :-)  We'll figure it out.

In the meantime I'd like to share a few pics and notes about some of the dogs that have gone to adoptions.

Have you ever seen two more beautiful creatures in your life?  This is Tucker and Tanya.  These dogs are incredibly smart, well mannered and sweet.  

This little girl's picture at intake shows a terrified and cowering little one not sure of where she was and what was happening to her.  Just look at her now!

This is John Wayne, aptly named because he is slightly bow legged.  Kinda makes me think he may be mixed with an English Bulldog.  John Wayne is currently up for adoption at the shelter.  He is a very loving boy that consideres himself a lap ornament.  :-)

This little girl was truly scared to death until I put her in a Thundershirt and did a few TTouches on her.  After that she saught out attention and cuddling.

Holy Smokes!  Have you ever seen a happier smile than Java has?

Finally, meet Dallas.  She is about 7 years old and as gentle as a lamb.

Did you know that finding dogs as wonderful as these at the shelter is not uncommon at all?  I really hope you and your friends will consider checking you local shelter for your next best friend.

These dogs really deserve to find their Happily Ever After.

Oh by the way, I started this blog to track my journey to becoming a Tellington TTouch Practioner.  Well guess what!  That journey will be complete in just 20 days!  On February 24, 2010 I'll be graduating!!  (Can you see me doing my Happy Dance?)

January 8, 2011


Remember Aurora?  She is doing really well and is making small improvements all the time.  She still spins but not nearly as bad and is quite capable of walking straight to get a toy or to chase a ball.  Problem is if she isn't focused on something she puts her head down and spins.  Today I put a head wrap on her and the change was a bit more than remarkable.  Not only does she look adorable in her little had but she held her head up and ran and played without spinning. 

We are continuing to try lots of different options to get her to walk straight on a lead.  But off lead with a head wrap she's pretty much got it!

Felipe the beautiful blind Boxer boy made it to adoptions!  But his stay there was very short.  He wasn't adopted but the next best thing.  Felipe made it into a rescue specifically for Boxer dogs!  Not only that but when I arrived at the shelter today I saw the gentleman that was coordinating his transfer to a foster home in Los Angeles and we had a chance to chat. Seems Felipe will be fostered by an older couple that are home a lot of the time.  They have Boxer experience but not blind Boxer experience.  As we chatted I shared how well he reacted to my "Beep-Beep" technique.  This info will be passed on to his new foster home.


Also remember the little Puggle that was abandoned in a cardboard box?  Well his new name is Rascal and he is available for adoption! 

All good stuff.

January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!

What a great way to start off my New Year!  Meeting my friend Eli at the shelter and working with the dogs.

Quick update on Neo - he is a complete LOVE and was very excited to see me today.  To tell the truth I was quite excited to see him too.  He should get his behavior testing this week and hopefully a spot will clear for him to go into adoptions!

A quick note about Elmer - Turns out I didn't get to work with Elmer today.  The Kennel Staff was in the middle of cleaning out their kennels and he wasn't where I could get him out.  Next week I will be going later in the day so that shouldn't be a concern.  But the excellent news is that he cuddled with one of the employees this week!  He just hung out with her in a relaxed way.  Not only that but he is being taken into a local rescue as soon has he is neutered!  Yipee for Elmer!

This beautiful boy doesn't have a name yet - most in the back room don't.  I've seen him many times and have given him treats on my walk through.  Today I confirmed what I have suspected.  He is blind.  I don't have a lot of experience with blind dogs but as we walked and he bumped into things I had an idea.  If he was walking toward something I would "Beep" like those big trucks do when they back up.  It didn't take him long at all to understand that "Bang" soon followed "Beep".  We walked all over in the play yard working our way around obstacles using the sound of my voice.

He is a bit on the thin side and needed a serious brushing to bring the shine back to his coat.  I used my Jelly Scrubber to remove all the dead hair and he was comfortable with my doing so.  He is an easy going boy and accepted touch all over his body.  Hopefully a local Boxer Rescue will be interested in this sweet boy.

Dogs handle stress (and fear is a form of stress) by doing one of the "Four F's"...they "Freeze", "Flee", "Fight" or they "Fool Around".  I'm pretty comfortable working with the first three but struggle when I am faced with a Fool Around dog.  These dogs are hyperactive, jump and bounce all over the place.  Basically they appear to be very happy but they are indeed stressed.  Today I worked with a Fool Around dog.

Meet Leroy!  Thankfully Eli had taken Leroy for a walk prior to me working with him.  As I watched Eli and Leroy I was impressed with how well Eli could ignore Leroy's foolish behavior.  Believe me I was taking notes!

First thing I did with Leroy was put him in a Thundershirt.  He was not excited about the process at all but as soon as it was on he was far better able to focus on me.  My entire session with Leroy was done with him in a Balance Leash Plus.

Between the the Thundershirt and the leash configuration I had a very well behaved dog on my hands!  We practiced walking "Let's go", "and wait", and "Look at me".  I had Leroy's full attention!  When I decided to sit in front of him in a chair he became too excited.  Edie-Jane's words of "keep the dog moving" came flooding into my head.  As long as we walked and I stopped briefly for TTouches he was calm.

Leroy walked all the way back to his kennel checking in with me and responding to my queues.  He sat nicely while I removed his Thundershirt and lead, gave him a treat and wished him a very happy day.

I know I say it all the time but certain things just really surprise me when they work so well.  You would think I'd be used to it by now.  I was really pleased with my session with Leroy.  Maybe Leroy will be a turning point for me and I won't avoid the "Fool Around" dogs quite as much.  Thank you Leroy!  The animals really are our teachers.

After thought:  Today I keep having a certain thought pass through my mind.  I keep thinking that IF every single person that has ever loved an animal of any kind did SOMETHING for another animal this year.....the world would be a far better place.

December 28, 2010

Elmer's Eyes

Today I met Elmer.  He is a small, frightened dog.  Elmer is very different from most of the dogs I work with at the shelter because he is so little....and so shut down.  His eyes look like he has given up on life.  His big brown eyes are haunted.  I don't know what has scared him so badly.  Is it the sights, sounds and smells of the shelter?  Had something bad happened to him before he ended up here?  None of that really matters.  When I work with a dog I address them based on what I see in that moment.  Right now I see a sweet, terrified little guy that wants to remain unnoticed.

Elmer shares his kennel with 3 other small dogs.  When I first saw him he was cowering in the back while the other dogs came to the front to see if I had treats for them.  Upon entering the kennel the 3 other dogs all rushed to check me out and Elmer looked like he hoped I wouldn't see him.  I lifted him up so I could take him outside and he had a very strong urine smell and was trembling.

Not wanting to violate his personal space I put him down at my first opportunity and clipped the lead to his collar.  He froze.  When a dog is this frightened there is no treat in the world that is tempting enough.  He left me little choice but to apologize and scoop him up again.

When I got him out to the play yard I unclipped the lead and he could not get far enough away from me.  His objective was to hide.  Giving him plenty of time to observe me I spread out towels on the ground, sprinkled them liberally with treats and rummaged through my backpack.  Elmer was plastered against the fence on the opposite side of the yard. 

Finally I approached Elmer and put an Extra Small Thundershirt on his shaking body.

I carried Elmer back over to the blanket and I sat behind him doing some very gentle TTouches.  His little body relaxed a bit as I worked on his tiny ears.  This lasted about 3 minutes and I let him go.

My hope was that he would return to me - but he didn't.

Not wanting to overwhelm Elmer I decided he had enough for one day and I removed his Thundershirt and sat him down. 

He ran away from me and nervously ran back and forth just outside my reach.  He would watch me as he ran past.  I gave him no reaction other than to calmly tell him he is such a good boy and deserving of love.

Finally I packed things up to go and Elmer came over to the fence where I was and started pawing at it.  He was about 4 feet from me so I squatted down with my back against the fence and I reached out for  him.  Elmer didn't run and even took a single step toward me.  I scooped Elmer up on my lap and held him against my chest as I talked to him and did more gentle touches on him until the trembling stopped.

Was it my imagination?  At the very end I could swear I felt Elmer's body relax....ever so slightly.

The interesting thing about TTouch is that you don't always see improvement during the session.  Take Neo for example.  The first night I worked with him I thought I'd seen a very tiny bit of improvement, but the next day I was greeted by a completely different dog!  I'm hoping that when I see Elmer next he will be far more relaxed.

December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas from TouchNpaws

See how softly she takes a treat?

Most people use the New Year as a time to reflect.  I kinda do it at Christmas time.  Maybe it is just a good time for me to count my blessings.  Working with these wonderful animals is a blessing to me.  It makes my heart sing to see the changes Tellington TTouch brings to their lives.  Where there was once pain, now it is gone.  Where there were mobility challenges the dog now runs and plays like a little puppy.  Where a dog would cry out in fear they now appreciate the warmth of human touch.

This past week has been one of those times I'm extraordinarily happy to be able to share the gift of TTouch with the animals at the shelter.

Remember Twinkie?  She is doing incredible.  If ever there was a silly, happy and lovable girl it is twinkie.

She loves her Hedgehog

A few days ago I was asked to help with an Australian Shepherd that had failed his first behavior test.  He is polite, walks nice on a leash and is very good at paying attention.  So what was the problem?  He cried out in fear when being touched.  Poor baby had no acceptance of social handling.  But because he won the hearts of those that matter he is being given an opportunity to learn that touch is good.  That is where I come in.

Neo in his Thundershirt

Our first session I saw for myself that he did indeed cry out if you touched anything other than his face, mouth or ears.  I used my wand to touch his body and he did not cry.  At least I could be confident he wasn't in pain.  So I put him in a Thundershirt and used the back of my hand to stroke him.  Sometimes he would cry and other times he did not.  It was clear that Neo wanted affection,  He would move close to me and put his head against my chest or on my lap.

Feeling that his issues are on an emotional level I was thankful that he readily allowed touch on his muzzle and even let me work on his gums.  Emotional issues are closely related to the mouth so I happily stroked his muzzle.

By the end of the session I could gently put my hand under the Thundershirt and do some touches.

Next day I saw him again.  To my wonderment I was greeted by a totally different boy!  Neo allowed me to touch him anywhere I wanted and never cried....not one single time.  Over night his brain had an opportunity to process the work we did and he must have decided touch was okay.

The fear has melted away and has been replaced by trust.

I worked with a friend, Eli,  from the shelter that day and Eli was able to do anything with Neo that I did.  It was not a selective acceptance on his part but a general feeling of trust.

Either Eli or I will work with him daily as he will be retested in a week or so.  I will be honest here that during that first session I was thinking "Hmm, this may be tougher than I thought" but I pushed that thought out of my mind and took Edie-Jane's advice to "Just do the work".

I certainly do not agree with all aspects of the standardized behavior tests but my agreement is neither here not there - it is what it is.  Neo must accept a "Dominance Hug" as part of the test.  Today Eli and his wife worked with Neo and Neo accepted a Dominance Hug from his wife!  Talk about a wonderful Christmas gift!

Go Neo!

This little guy doesn't have a name.  I understand they don't name them in the shelter until after they are behavior tested.  For now he is a number.  In my mind I've named him Eddie.  Doesn't he remind you a bit of Eddie Munster?

Can you believe that a few days ago this little guy was abandoned in a cardboard box!  I'll spare you the vile thoughts that occupy my mind about the type of person that would do this to him.  Suffice it to say that he is better off without them.

When I arrived at the shelter yesterday they were working on integrating him with the 3 other little dogs he would be sharing a kennel with. Yep, enough dogs are "thrown away" on a regular basis that it is necessary for the shelter to house multiple dogs in one kennel.  Better that than in a cardboard box - or being completely turned away because there is no room - but this is the reality folks...sad stuff.

Well a couple of the dogs were being a bit "enthusiastic" with little "Eddie" and he would get scared and growl at them.  Well, this wasn't going to work when they were all housed together.  I asked someone to get me an Extra Small Thundershirt and I wrapped him up, held him and did some TTouch.  The other puppies were taken outside to a play yard and after a bit "Eddie" and I joined them.

When we joined the other dogs outside I put him down and reassured him as he began to interact with his room mates.  The Thundershirt and TTouch helped him withstand the enthusiastic investigation of the other pups and in moments they were off and playing together.  As I left the shelter yesterday I stopped by to wish the 4 pups a Merry Christmas and tell them that NEXT Christmas they would all be in a home with their own families.  All were happily hanging out together.

That brings me to my plan for 2011.

For the past 2 years I have worked with the Adoptable dogs.  Now it is time for me to work "in the back" with those that have not yet been tested or those that have failed but have been offered another opportunity, a make up test if you will.  I feel what I have to offer will benefit these dogs - dogs like Twinkie and Neo - far more than the adoptables that have many, many volunteers available to help them.

My goal for 2011 is to help more and more dogs be comfortable in their skin, teach them to trust, and help them pass a behavior test that involves some things that are considered VERY rude in dog language.  The test is tough and made far more difficult when they are stressed, frightened and in a foreign environment away from everything they have ever know.  I wanna help to level the playing field.

A side effect from my change in direction is that I'll be writing about the good, the bad and the ugly.  I hope to educate people about the wonderful dogs that end up in shelters.  To shed a little light on how tough shelter life is and what over population is doing to innocent dogs.  That sometimes things are unfair and a dog pays the ultimate price.  Maybe one or two people will changes their minds about buying a pet shop puppy or decided to spay or neuter their dog and stop contributing to the problem.

Please keep Neo in your thoughts and prayers - send him positive energy, Reiki and distance TTouch as he studies for his upcoming test.