September 28, 2009

Chloe - Slow and Steady

This is Chloe! Isn't she a beauty?

Chloe was pulled from a shelter and brought into private rescue. When she was pulled from the shelter she was thin and her coat was in bad shape. That wasn't the worst of it though. Chloe was, and is, is a very frightened dog that has trouble trusting people.

As with most animals pulled from a shelter the details of their background remains a mystery.

When I work with dogs with an unknown background I try not to figure it out. It isn't important, really. What is important is how they are reacting now and what can I do to help.

Progress with Chloe has been slow and steady. Chloe is slow to trust so I met her where she was and went at her pace. Too slow for my liking but just the right pace for her. And THAT is what is important.

The first session Chloe barked and growled at me........even "air snapped" at me a couple times. Thankfully I had Butchy to work on and did touches and wraps on him so the owner could learn what to do for Chloe. From time to time I'd toss treats to Chloe.

Situations like this are where I really rely on the Calming Signals, the Language of Peace. I avoided eye contact with her, turned my head, yawned or blinked. All the things to let her know that I come in Peace and mean her no harm. By the end of the first session she was taking treats from my hand.

Session two was mostly about treats! That is what Chloe wanted. I was a treat dispenser but she had to come get them from my hand or a well balanced treat on my knee. Butchy was front and center for this appointment - as was another doggie that was visiting.

We did make some changes for Session 2. We worked on a sheet in the back yard. Chloe was able to come and go as she wanted to. Sometimes she placed herself rather close and other times she was far away. The decision was hers.

There was no barking or growling at me during Session 2.

During the week Chloe's person did wraps and touches on her. People at the dog park noticed a change in her.

Yesterday was Session 3. I know we aren't supposed to have an outcome in mind. But I'm human and I wanted to be able to touch Chloe before the end of the session. One change we made this week was after our initial greeting we but Butchy in another room where he could watch but the focus would be on Chloe.

Most of Session 3 was just me and her owner talking and giving her treats from time to time. As I started photographing her an opportunity opened for me to move closer - so I did.

At first I offered her some treats.......and she took them.

Then I decided to try to touch her........she accepted it.

One thing led to another and I ended up doing a full TTouch session on her!

By the time our session was over and it was time to leave I had a new friend. Chloe was quite affectionate with me. Such a lovely close to Session 3.

Another thing I learned was to keep your outcome open. That is why we aren't to fixate on an outcome. Had I fixated on the outcome of "I want to touch Chloe" that may well have been all I received. I left the outcome open and got so much more than I had dared imagine!

Thank you Chloe and Linda........and little Butchy for a wonderful opportunity.

September 23, 2009

A Painful Lesson

Today I had a very painful lesson that was totally unexpected. Yesterday the medical staff at the shelter helped Sam (known as Magnum at the shelter) cross the Rainbow Bridge. My friend is gone.

This is part of the message I received:

Magnum was out for a potty break this morning and laid down for the last time, he looked up at Karen and Lani and let them know he was tired and in pain. He has been on pain meds, joint meds, skin care treatment and has been under constant supervision by kennel, treatment and volunteers. However, he lost his will to fight for his life.

This post won't have a lot of beautiful pictures of Sam but will contain my thoughts and some memories. The picture at the top says it all. I'm not holding back so if "graphic" upsets you - stop now. Take a look at his picture and remember him that way.

For myself, I continue.

I remember talking with the Foster Home Coordinator one evening after an adoption event. She told me of this boy that was brought in from the Indian Reservation severely wounded and with a maggot infestation. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. At the time she had hoped to foster him and I asked how soon I could start working with him.

Things changed and she had to foster another but I started working with Sam on my next visit. I was shocked at what I saw. I saw an old dog with wounds covering his entire back, throat and inside his legs. Some so severe they just hung in open pockets. You know what else I saw? I saw a very trusting and loving soul looking back at me with eyes full of hope.

My first thought was "where can I touch him?" I'd spread out my customary sheet in the cool conference room with just natural light. I sat down and Sam laid down and put his head in my lap. From there I found a spot on his body that wasn't too bad (all things considered) and began doing touches a few inches above his body. When I found a spot that didn't have a wound I did very light touches.

Sam just laid in my lap looking at me while I worked on him. My horror melted into love and compassion. I wanted to help this boy become whole again.

When the session was over I was stunned to see I had "pieces of Sam" all over me and the blanket. This poor boy was falling apart right in front of me.

The next day I called upon my TTouch friends to do "distance work" with him. This is one of those things that is difficult to comprehend for many, myself included. But I tried. I put out a call for those that wanted to help me to join in. Many did.

When I saw him 3 days later he was so much better! His wounds were healing. The more superficial ones were closed and others were filling in.

I met Sam a minimum of twice a week and watched him improve every time. The above photo was taken one month to the day from when he came to us.

We will never know exactly what happened to him but because he has no upper or lower front teeth, was ripped to shreds and found in a dump at the Indian Reservation it is quite possible he was a bait dog used for fight training. How anyone could have done this to such a beautiful being is beyond me. I don't know how they sleep at night. I really hope they don't.

So Sam is gone and I'm really quite surprised. I saw him Wednesday and had a great visit and got some nice photos of him. None look sad. None of them look like he was done. I don't understand.

Much of my day was spent behind closed doors at work crying and working. I've had the nicest comments of support from friends and family. I won't lie - my heart is bursting. I'm grateful for the time spent with him and the lessons learned. I know he died knowing love. I really wanted him to be someones dog. To have his own home and hang out on the couch watching TV with someone that loved him. Sam deserved that.

I truly believe my calling with TTouch is with medical dogs and particularly hospice work. As much as I was able to help Sam he also helped me. Sam is teaching me what the pain is like when you lose a dog you have poured everything you have into. He is the first but he will not be the last.

I wanted him to be someones dog so bad.......To me, he was my dog.

Rest well my beloved friend. I miss you so bad already.

September 19, 2009

Good-Bye for Now

Wednesday was my last night at the shelter for a bit. It is time to focus on getting ready for my trip to North Carolina where I'll be taking my 3rd round of classes~ I'm amazed to think I'm almost at the 1/2 way point! Then when I get back I'm having shoulder surgery and the necessary down time associated with that.

So, Wednesday I wanted to spend time with my extra special ones and say "Good Bye" and enjoy some quality time with them. My hope is that when I return in about 5 weeks they will be happy in a forever home. This may be the last time I see them.

First was My Alfie. Alfie and I sat outside and I told him how much he has taught me about trust. Alfie taught me that trust must be earned and isn't always offered freely.

He taught me that when trust is earned it is all the sweeter.

I don't know if Alfie will be there or not when I return. He is kept in the back and away from the public eye since he likes to "bounce" in his kennel. Such a shame because it is quite adorable when he bounces because he does it with joy and happiness all over his face. How could anyone resist?

Then I spent time with Sam (Magnum).

He has healed up so nicely and really needs to have a foster home.

The shelter is a tough place for a dog that was ripped to shreds by other dogs. Not a pleasant place at all. My hope and prayer for Sam is that he finds a foster home soon where he can work on his confidence and learn that not all dogs are out to hurt him.

I had intentions of visiting with my shy boy, Echo. But Echo was out on a nice walk with a volunteer. He knows he is loved and my guess is he will be in a home before I return.

After saying 'Bye' to Alfie and Sam I needed my heart lifted. What better way to lift the spirits that spend time with puppies?

These two are less than 2 months old and so full of their selves. I played with them in their Kennel and just enjoyed the wild abandon of two very silly pups.

I first met these two on Labor Day. To be honest I'm very surprised these puppies are still in the shelter. But even as babies Pit Bulls suffer from prejudice. Such a shame. A bigger shame is there are still folks breeding more and more Pit Bulls and the shelters are just filled to the brim.

It seems that regardless of how sweet the dogs is they take so much longer to adopt out.

It was time to walk through Adoptables and greet each dog by name. This is something I always do when I go in. "Hello Maggie, you are looking beautiful today", "How's my Dolly Lolly girl?", "Hey Petey has anyone told you how handsome you are yet today?".....and so it goes, kennel by kennel.

Then I looked in this one kennel and look what I saw!

I'm going to interject here.....again. PLEASE spay and neuter your pets!!! These Chihuahua mix puppies are 4 weeks old and were just spayed! OMG, they should still be with their Momma and here they are shaking and scared in a shelter with HUGE dogs all around barking and carrying on.

Of course I couldn't resist stopping and giving them love....and touches.

I wanted so badly to bring these two home with me.

The last thing we need is more dogs. I'm glad Marley is not accepting of all dogs as it keeps me grounded. Otherwise I'd have already adopted Duncan, Alfie & Pumpkin and most likely two little Chi' pups! Thank you Marley :-)

It was so difficult for me to leave. So much can change in 5 weeks. It almost felt like someone had sucked all the breath out of me as I closed the door to DA-1 and walked down the hall to go home....leaving my friends behind to find their way in the world.

September 17, 2009

Some days you're ON and others you're OFF

Sunday I was off. Funny that "very off" followed "very on".

So you ever wake up and think to yourself that you should change your plans but have no reason why you are thinking that? I woke up that way on Sunday. Nothing was wrong but my gut said not to go to the shelter.

Since time is getting short to where I won't have a choice about going to the shelter.....I went.

I started off with an easy one. This little guy was clearly unhappy in his crate. He was shaking like a leaf. He didn't have a name on his door so I know very little about him.

This boy shook so hard I had to keep readjusting the plan. The blanket on the grass where I usually work was too scary. There were dogs walking by.......big dogs at that! And of course there was a car pulling into the lot from time to time so that wasn't good.

I put a wrap on him (note to self: Cut down some wraps to "Tiny Size"). He seemed to like that okay but still not secure enough. So we hot footed it over to a secluded area and did some touches. I had him wrapped in the wrap and in a beach towel and did touches on him through the towel at first. Ah, FINALLY something he liked! I knew if I kept trying different things we'd get it. And "get it" we did! He was officially a happy boy.

Never did learn his name for sure. We have one little guy that looks pretty similar to this one that is 4-mos old and named Kit. The other I was considering looked even MORE like this guy but was 8-years old. My little guy seemed more 4-mos old than 8 years, but looked more like the 8-year old and also lifted his leg to pee. Do 4-month old pups lift their leg???

The dogs were wild and wound up! Serious fool around behavior from all of them. What the heck? Even my shy, pancake Maggie found her spunk. Working with fool around dogs is difficult for me. I'm out of my league and need some tools in the tool box for this.

Edie Jane? You out there?

If you are I hope and pray you will teach me what to do with a fool around dog in North Carolina! I need help :-)

So one by one I took out dogs to work on ..... one by one they yanked off my arm and I took 'em back.

The day was not a total loss though.

I had a nice little session with Echo in his kennel. He started off as a shy boy and now is still a bit shy but loves to be touched and cuddled. He likes to bury his head into me and get his touches. A sweet little man.

The other good thing was the 8-year old pup was adopted that day before I could make more comparisons to "My little guy".

So with so many things that were off I have to wonder if it was worth going to the shelter that day. Should I have listened to that little voice and stayed home? I may have to answer that with a "Yes" - however, Echo and the Little One may have a different answer.

September 12, 2009

Open to the Unplanned

After much thought, and some info digging, I decided to go a different direction with Sydney this week and we skipped the confidence course. My plan was to help her find her back end. I don't think she knows her body extends beyond her shoulders! My feeling is that part of her wanting to lay down is that she may have pain in the back end and in her legs.

There have been attempts to clicker train Sydney before but she had trouble focusing on the process and lost interest.

We did the body wrap and even put scrunchies on her feet.

So we did lots of touches and leg work.

One of the Practitioners I spoke with recommended I use some clicker training in conjunction with the TTouch and click 'n treat for movement forward. I liked that idea and decided I wanted to take it a little further and also teach "Touch" so that when Sydney is focused on something she may want to move toward that she can be redirected with the request to "Touch".

Sydney is a very quick study!

We even used the Balance Leash Plus in the living room to see how that worked with her - and she responded quite a bit better.

Today Sydney was completely focused on me!

I found out today that there ARE side effects to TTouch! Cairo, the Bengal cat, had been watching me work with Sydney and was quite interested in the whole process.

Here is some background on the dynamics surrounding the animal members of this family. Cairo is 7 1/2 years old and was given to Terri being a handful more than her current home was capable of dealing with. He was very outgoing and quite the people person. Then along came Sydney last December. When Sydney joined the family Cairo became a recluse and when he did come out he would be chased by Sydney. Sydney meant no harm but that is not how Cairo explained things.

So today we had Cairo benefiting from the touches Sydney received and the general peace and calm in the room. Sydney was not interested in the least that Cairo had joined us.

I even think they are starting to gang up on me!

It wasn't long before Cairo learned that a "click" resulted in a duck heart for Sydney. Having never worked with Cats before I thought it would be fun to see if Cairo could learn to Touch.

He picked it up so very fast!

We weren't through yet. Terri had one more surprise! A Guinea Pig named Princes Pigless that tends to "nip"! Well I've not worked with Guinea Pigs either....and certainly not one who nips. But heck, we were on a roll so in came Princess!

What to do with a Guinea Pig? Well I did tiny light touches of all kinds, hair slides and ear work. Even did the bridge of her nose and some mouth work. Never once did she try to nip me. I did get some soft sweet kisses though.

It soon became a family affair - something that has never happened before. Terri commented on several firsts today. What a wonderful family to work with

And the final seal of approval came with Peace being shared by all.

September 10, 2009


Wednesday when I worked with Sam I decided to put a wrap on him for the first time. I did a 1/4 wrap with a 2" bandage. He tolerated it okay and I only left it on a short time. But while it was on I noticed trembling in his back right leg.....the one that had the worst injuries.

I also noticed his skin is more reactive now. I got some trembling in the skin in the hind quarters while working with him.

We set up our sheet and worked in the front lawn and I don't know if he was trembling because other dogs were around or if it was a sensitivity to his skin. Either way he would let out a low quite growl. Not threatening in any way and easily reassured.

We moved to an outdoor enclosure and I set up plastic chairs to form a circle around us to give him some privacy from the other dogs. He was happy with that.

Could the sensitivity in his skin be because the nerve endings are healing? I'd think the damage he sustained would have caused nerve damage and possibly he did not feel the extent of his pain in the beginning.

Sam is the most precious being and is so loving and trusting even with all he has been through. He is so fortunate to have wound up at Escondido Humane Society!


And what blog posting would be complete without a cute picture? This is what Alfie wanted to do during his session. Me thinks I have competition for Alfie's affections!

Pumpkin & Alfie

September 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day!

Happy Labor Day!

This is a day to have fun and spend time grilling with friends. That is exactly what we did. Steve and I went to the shelter about 9:30 and began working with the dogs. While I did TTouch Steve walked and bathed dogs and did general clean up to the property.

My day started with Maggie.

She is an adorable Pit Bull girl that has some insecurity issues. Very sweet girl but reminds me of Alfie when I first started working with him. Maggie isn’t as frightened as Alfie was but will “Pancake” on you. I found that she also has a silly side.

Beverly is another Pit Bull girl that is very cautious in the beginning. She is very sweet and loving and wants to sit on your lap. Slow movements around Beverly are best until she is sure you won’t hurt her. It looks like she has either had lots of litters or at least one recently. Beverly won’t be having any more as she was just spayed.

I worked with Hershey the other night and at that time she appeared to be yet another timid Pit Bull girl. Either she has blossomed, the drugs from her spay wore off or she was just feeling really good! Hershey needed a TTouch wrap put on her if we were to get anything done today. She responded quite well to the wrap and I do believe Lavender is a great color on her.

Then there is “Sam”. He is now being called Magnum at the shelter but to so many others and me he will always be Sam. So “Sam” he will remain.

First I have to tell you that in just 3 weeks time he has had such a transformation that words cannot even express the difference.

Sam in an amazing boy that has been through God only knows what and yet he is full of love.

The worst wound of all was the one on the inside of his right back leg. This wound was an open, hanging pocket! You could see things you were not meant to see in a living dog. This wound was not stitched up for reasons not explained to me. Now there is about a ½” opening! All other wounds have healed!

Finally I got to help a tiny Pit Bull puppy. I don’t know the age, nor if it is a girl or boy. There is a litter of abandoned puppies looking for Foster Homes. They were brought out for volunteers to see in hopes of striking a heart string. This one little guy was shaking so hard. Of course it was impossible for me not to come to his aid.

Within a minute I told the young boy holding him that his trembling diminished. A few seconds later the boy told me the puppy wasn’t shaking at all. It made me smile.

I've noticed something and I'm not really sure how to describe it but I'm going to try. When I first started at the shelter I was focused on Elektra. She needed me more than anyone else and I promised her that if I only had time for one, it would be her.

Along came Alfie and he really needed help. I was able to help him but I was committed to Elektra - then she was adopted and it freed up more time to concentrate on Alfie and still help less needy dogs.

Alfie is still at the shelter awaiting his perfect home. I've noticed he really isn't needing me as much any more. What Alfie needs now he needs from another dog. In walk Pumpkin!

Pumpkin is teaching Alfie how to be a dog and how to play. They love each other and are the best of friends. Last Saturday Pumpkin was adopted. This week she was returned. I guess her work with Alfie was not complete. Or maybe I needed to be replaced with another girl to free up more time for Sam!

Isn't it kinda funny how this all works out?

And how was YOUR day?