June 25, 2009

A Win-Win Situation

I totally think I could I could make a career out of volunteer work if I could only win the lottery. Getting in at my local shelter is just what I needed to build my skills and work with many different dogs. Talk about getting baptized by fire! I love it.

Can I just tell you that doing TTouch on those shelter dogs made my day? Well actually it made my WEEK. Woke up to rain and was bummed that the one day in months we have moisture is the day I'm working outside at the shelter....but the rain stopped on the way in! How cool is that???

I worked with (2) Staffordshire Mixes, (1) Rottweiler, (1) Shepherd Mix, and (1) Long Haired Chihuahua Mix. They ranged in age from 1 ½ to 7 years old. Personalities ranged from “think Tigger” from Winnie-the-Poo to very insecure. Originally I planned to be there 2 hours. Ended up being there 3 ½ with a promise to see them again tomorrow.

One other thing I want to say is the body wrap helped each of these dogs in very different ways. It calmed Tigger enough for me to actually get my hands on him and gave insecure Elektra a little self-confidence once she realized I wasn’t going to let her chew it off.

A new friend at the shelter emailed me after I got home that someone has donated a full set of agility equipment that will be delivered and set up June 8-9!!! If it does not include a labyrinth I will see about trying to buy the stuff to make one and donate that on my own.

Lessons learned:
• I need to order a leather double-ended lead for working with the BIG dogs! My nylon one won't quite do.
• A ttouch and a talk can make a big difference in a dog’s day…..and mine
• Body wraps ROCK!
• Never wear tennis shoes with deep tread around dog poo!

New Jersey - Our Animal Teachers

One of the many things I love about TTouch is learning directly from the animals. You must really start listening to them to form the connection.
Let me introduce you to some of our Animal Teachers from New Jersey.
Meet Rex!

The first day of class I walk in and see Rex! What a beautiful boy. I wanted nothing more than to touch him! Rex was distrustful of people and with good reason.

Rex had cropped ears held tightly on top of his head. His human felt it was the result of a bad crop job. The details of his life eluded her but what she did know is that Rex was a former stud dog kept in a crate in a basement. The class watched as Linda taught Rex to trust and relax. As she did so his ears began to release.

As you can see, I had my opportunity to spend time with Rex. Notice the beautiful heart on his chest?

Meet Remi & Reba!

Remi was the first dog I walked successfully on a lead. I had expected that he would have been more difficult than my Pierre just based on his size. Remi and I were in step from word go. He and I walked around the building, starting and stopping, and everything flowing nicely. His "mom" complimented me and I said he was easy. She said he normally isn't like that with folks.

Since I did well with Remi she asked if I'd like to work with his more challenging sister, Reba. Well OF COURSE I would :-)

Reba and I had a HUGE breakthrough. She has never interacted with anyone but her "mom". She has been brought to training sessions before but no one has had success with her.

Everything I did with Reba clicked! Absolutely everything. For the first time ever I was smack on with my leash work and even with a dog who was more of a challenge! We had many issues to work out because she completely came "out of her body" with anxiety when we went outside. With a body wrap, touches and changing my hardware with her we had amazing results. What an amazing girl.

I'll never forget just who got me through my mental block on leash work!

Meet Naomi!

This is Naomi. She had extreme separation anxiety and was reactive (not aggressive) in most situations.

We were to take our dogs out to the confidence course for ground work and I was assigned to Naomi and her "mom". Things weren't going well and I could not get her to stop pulling and barking. My mentor, Cynde, came to my rescue and reminded me that Naomi is not on my agenda and I need to meet her where she is. We moved to a place where she was comfortable and not reacting to the other dogs. Just a few minutes of her being away and standing still allowed her to get back in balance and "get into her body". Once that happened we were able to do some leash work in about a 10' area.

Cynde decided we should work on the separation issues and so I took Naomi a few feet from her mom and as soon as she turned her head to look at Gerlinda I was to take her back and let her check in with Gerlinda remaining very neutral to Naomi coming back.

A couple times of stretching it out a bit more Naomi was totally fine moving half way around the building with me. She had not been able to do this before.

Then when we went into our discussion circle she plopped herself down between me and her mom with her weight resting against me and let me do body work on her.

It was such an honor to help her learn that leaving Gerlinda's side was a safe thing to do.

Meet Bella!

What a surprise to see Bella and her "mom" Rebecca come to the session that was opened to the public. Rebecca had to take a subway, train and a cab to get there. It was fantastic meeting Rebecca after all this time of knowing her and Bella online.

Here Bella is graciously allowing me to do chimp touches on her pretty little head.

Meet Esme!

Esme came to class with her Foster Mom, Nichole. What an adorable little girl she was. It wasn't long before she had several classmates wrapped around her pretty little paw.

Little did I know then how many pit bulls would be in my life in a very short time.

Thank you Esme for being the first little Pitty girl to capture my heart.

Session 2 - Dayton, New Jersey with Linda Tellington-Jones

What can be said about training in New Jersey with Linda Tellington-Jones??? When I found out Linda would be doing a session I knew I had to be there. After all, what could possibly be better than training directly with Linda?? I'll tell you what could be better.......getting an email asking if I would be willing to share a rental car with Linda and her Training Assistant, Cynde!

Watching Linda work with the animals was breath taking. The way they responded to her was as if they spoke the same language and were engaged in a dance. I still get tears in my eyes thinking of it and even more so when I realize each one of us can do this!

My first class with Kathy Cascade gave me the technical skills and understanding I needed to have in order to be able to relax and just absorb Linda in a way I could not have without that background. For me the sequence could not have been better.

Linda and Cynde were an amazing team. Linda was so in tune and focused on the animal and Cynde would explain in a soft, almost lyrical, voice what was going on and pointing out things that in my wonderment would have missed.

Thank you both for offering me this life changing experience. Not only did I come away with so much from class but after spending a week sharing a car with Linda and Cynde I have come away with two very dear friends..........and a mentor! Cynde has agreed to help guide me along my TTouch journey and for that I am very blessed and thankful.

June 15, 2009

Session 1 - Portland, Oregon with Kathy Cascade

I just returned from my first 6 day Ttouch training session! To say this was a powerful and moving experience doesn’t even begin to describe what went on during that time.

I went into the sessions with a strong focus on the medical supportive care aspect of the method and came away with so much more. Being already familiar with what Ttouch can do for an animal’s health and mobility I was more focused on the training aspect. Not only does Ttouch bring physical balance it also brings emotional stability as well.

When evaluating any method of training we were asked to consider the “3 R’s”

• Results – Do you get the results you are looking for?

• Respectful – Is the method respectful of the animal?
Are you comfortable with the method and can you respect yourself using it?

• Relationship – Does the method strengthen your relationship with the animal?

With Ttouch I can absolutely answer YES to each of those questions. The method is based on respecting an animal’s feelings and giving them choices. Yes, you read that right. They are to be given the ability to make certain choices for their self and as a trainer you need to respect that and your relationship will be strengthened and trust will develop. When an animal trusts you they are more at ease to work with you.

Of course we worked on all of the Touches, Body Wraps and such but my challenge area is the wonderful leashing techniques presented and learning to work with reactive dogs on a lead. I made significant progress in this area but I need to practice quite a bit more.

The highlight of my training was working with a Puppy Mill dog named Monte. He was taken in a raid the day before. Just a wee little poodle with bad sores and terribly frightened. He allowed me to do body work on him, apply a body wrap and introduce him to a step-in harness and a super balance lead. In no time we had this shaking little guy walking across a balance ramp with confidence. It felt good to be instrumental in giving him tools that will serve him well as he moves through the system.

I can’t wait to go back and learn more. I love the kindness and gentleness with which this method influences animals. It is amazing to watch that real changes in health, behavior and confidence can come in this manner and you don’t need to be harsh to get the desired results.
With any luck I’ll be headed to New Jersey to train directly with Linda Tellington-Jones for a week in May. If that doesn’t work out then I’ll head back to Portland in June.

Workshops and more Workshops

Next thing on my learning agenda was to pair up with Kim St. Claire and put on some workshops for people who wanted to learn TTouch.

This is Rosebud, an French Bulldog Rescue Network (http://www.frechbulldogrescue.org/) Graduate! All wrapped up in a pretty bow.

We held a few of these training classes and friends came as far as Los Angeles and even Arizona!
All this was nice....but not enough. I needed, and wanted, MORE!

So I have a Blog......now what?

I want a place where I can record my thoughts and work through my feelings as I head down the path to becoming a Tellington TTouch Practitioner.

Just to bring myself up to date ;-) I started this journey on September 13, 2008 when our French Bulldog, Sammi, went lame in the back end. We took him to a Neurologist who recommended crate rest, steroids and lots of time. 6 weeks of time to be exact. Then we would see if he needed tests and surgery.

In walk TTouch! I quickly ordered the materials (www.ttouch.com) and began a self study and brought in a pro, Kim St. Claire (www.doghealer.org) to make sure I was "doing it right". Sammi was up and walking in 2 weeks! Good as new....or even better, I'd say.

I've had countless opportunities to use TTouch on my boyz (Pierre, Sammi and Marley) and even myself. So I made the decision to begin a life changing journey to become a Tellington TTouch Practitioner for Companion Animals.
Here I go..........