November 28, 2009

Plan "C" ??

We have all heard how important it is to have a Plan "B". This is nothing new.

Today I needed my Plan "B".

Plan "A" was to work with Zorro on some ground work at a near-by grassy area. Yesterday they forecasted a 75% chance of rain through the end of today! Nooooo! Not rain when I want to work with Zorro outside!

Well rain it did...and it rained hard, it hailed and we had thunder. Common sense said we should reschedule. My desire to work with Zorro jumped at the opportunity to "do what we can" in the garage.

I loaded up the truck with poles and cones and off I went in the pouring rain. Thankfully the sun had broken through the black clouds, somewhat. I set up my star and cones and then put a wrap on Zorro and fitted him with a harness. All of this was fine with Zorro after some initial jumping. Keeping in mind the reason I'm working with Zorro is because he is a very exuberant boy I didn't put much stock in the jumping and mouthing.

About the time we were ready to hit the mini course we noticed a Chihuahua running off lead through around the neighborhood, right out in front of the house where we intended to work. Zorro was quickly whisked away to the side yard while Jan, Kathy and I try to round up the rogue Chi.

When we bring Zorro back we find he is way over the top excited. He is jumping, spinning, mouthing and completely out of balance and out of his body. Thinking the star was too much for him I broke it down to a simple zig zag on the grass. That did not resolve the issue.

Realizing that ground work in the front yard was counter productive we decided to take him in the back and repeat the leash work that was so successful last time.

Zorro still was highly agitated and nothing I was doing was calming him down. Thinking maybe too many of us were with him Jan and Kathy left me alone with Zorro. He was not standing for the lead at all so I tried to calm him with slow touches and some easy walking in the yard without a lead. I rewarded him for calmness when it occurred.

It didn't take a rocket scientist to realize things weren't going well so I called it quits for the day. Calling it quits was Plan "C".

In discussing what was different this time we realized that the thunder really upset him and then the excitement of the loose Chihuahua and add to that our own stress levels about there being a loose dog on the street. Zorro did not have things lined up for him to be successful. It made sense to call off the session and let him recoup.

We will get together and try again next Saturday. If we have more rain and thunder we will reschedule :-)

United She Stands

Honey and Becca

Have you ever seen a sweeter pair of sisters? Though they look similar they couldn't be more different. Honey is a very confident and outgoing girl and Becca is more timid and unsure. When Becca is with Honey she is very comfortable and functions quite well. If you remove her from her sister she struggles a bit.

Becca will be 8 years old in March and came to live with Kerry when she was only 5 months old. Adopted from a local shelter her exact background isn't certain but it is believed that she ran free as a feral dog with her momma those first 5 months.

Kerry has worked very hard with Becca. There was a time she was so frightened she had to be carried outside to go potty. She is afraid to be in the car and to this day will lay on the floor board with her head under the seat as far as it will go.

This is how frightened Becca used to be in the car,
she is stuck under the break.

Becca is so bonded with Honey that Kerry has concerns what will happen to her if the time comes that they no longer have Honey in their lives.

Yesterday I had my first session with Becca. We meet once before at a TTouch one-day workshop I hosted. Kerry and Becca met me outside the house and we reacquainted. Inside, we visited with both Becca and Honey.

In order to progress with Becca we put Honey in another room. Because Becca was unsure of the wrap I progressed slowly. First draping the wrap across her body and then a loop here or there until she actually wore the wrap. I did some slow touches on her and then invited her to go outside on a walk.

Using a Balance Leash Plus I led her outside and we took her normal and comfortable path through the neighborhood. Becca was stretching, she was stretching her comfort zone. Not only was she away from Honey but I was walking her rather than Kerry. I asked her to stop and go along our walk and she did fantastic. During the stops we did touches and had a treat or two.

Kerry decided to stretch Becca a tad more and dropped behind on the walk to see what would happen. Becca did really well. We walked on quite a bit, stopping and starting, before she discovered Kerry was pretty far behind. When she did notice she was not visibly upset. Becca kept turning and looking to make sure Kerry was there but was not overly concerned and still willing to walk with me.

Many times when a dog is overly stressed they will have an "Anxiety Poo" but that never happened with Becca. We finished up our walk and headed back in the house for lovin' TTouches and reunited Becca and Honey! That was enough for one day.

Our next step is to find somewhere we can set up the Confidence Course and let it work its magic with Becca.

November 27, 2009

You gotta stretch!

Iggy and I

No, I'm not teaching yoga classes :-) To grow and improve you have to stretch beyond your comfort zone.

I've been thinking of Iggy and wondering what would be the best and safest way to get him to stretch a little bit without setting him back. One idea kept popping up over and over. Iggy loves dogs and has many friends in his foster home. What if I worked with his friends and he observed? I'd think of it as successful if we could do this without him running around in circles and hiding. But if he did I needed to be ready to step back and try something else.

The other thing I rethought was my equipment. Usually I bring a suitcase on wheels with everything I might need. Last time I left it in the kitchen and went to the yard to meet Iggy with only my treat bag. This time I'd stretch it just a bit. I packed a few things in my net bag. A camera, a couple wraps, a harness & lead.

One of the first dogs to greet me was Dobby. She is a "Compassion Dog". This is a new term to me and I learned it is a dog that was slated to die at the shelter. Maybe it is a behavior issue or maybe medical...or both. In Dobby's case it is age and a neurological issue that keeps her from walking correctly and she falls down when she gets excited. A Compassion Dog is pulled from the shelter and they live in a loving foster home until it is time. It may be days, weeks or longer. But they know a home life and have a good time before they go.

The other dog was Darla. A very loving girl that enjoys lots of kisses.

Together we all went into the back yard to greet Iggy. To my delight Iggy came right up to me to see what Darla was getting out of my treat bag. He looked at me, took a treat and halfheartedly ran away. I smiled.

The first new thing for Iggy was my net bag and he wasn't concerned with it. Next I put scrunchies on Dobby's back feet to see if it would help her walking any. That meant I had to pick up the bag, dig through it and pull out something else that was new and put those on his friend's feet. He watched all this.

After putting scrunchies on her feet we put a body wrap on Darla. Iggy watched all we were doing.

To get him used to my small camera I held it out to him with treats on it! He came right up and ate the goodies right off the camera. After that I was free to take his picture.

Nicole recently took in 4 puppies that had been dumped at the shelter. They are skinny with big wormy bellies. One of the pups is full of attitude and has a very intense personality so into a tiny 1" wrap he went.

But first, I had to bring the dreaded suitcase out of the car an into his yard. Who knew I'd need a 1" wrap? Know what? Iggy was okay with me bringing in the case.

Off and on Iggy would come for pets, cuddles and treats and then off again.

Nicole and I start talking about the harness and lead configurations we use in TTouch and I asked her to bring out her best shot. She brings me Big Ben :-) He is a bouncy bundle of energy.

First I walked him in a Balance Leash Plus and he did fantastic (after I got him to stop spinning).

He is a very smart boy and got my signals very quickly. Next I put him in a Super Balance Leash and off we went.

He would stop and start right on cue looking at me for direction.

Guess who else was looking? Iggy! He was very curious what we were doing. Many times Iggy was walking right along with us. Starting when we did and stopping when we did.

Here is where I'd have done things differently. Iggy was so intrigued by the lead that I asked if Nicole would like to put a leash on his collar and she agreed. He froze. The leash came off immediately and he ran and hid for about 15 seconds. We quickly recovered with an offer of treats and an invitation to join Ben and I under the tree.

I wanted him to make friends with the lead like he had the camera so I coiled it on my leg and hid treats in it. Iggy was happy to hunt for tuna fudge! The leash didn't scare him.

With that we called it a day for Iggy and put everyone in their crates to process what just happened.

Now it was Gigi's turn. She is a rescued fighting dog that loves people! She is so tender and sweet and loves to give kisses. Nicole applied what she had learned and took Gigi through some poles I added to the yard after Iggy left. Both Nicole and Gigi were quick studies!

I'm blessed to have such a fantastic group of dogs to work with all in one session!

November 26, 2009

A Day of Thankfulness

This year I have so much to be thankful for and there is a fullness in my life and heart.

Over the last few days I have taken some time to think and reflect on the past year. There seems to be more different in the past 12 months than at any other time in my life.

Embracing TTouch, its philosophies, and all it has to offer has changed me in ways I never imagined. What started out as a way to help our precious Sammi walk again without surgery has fully integrated itself into every aspect of my entire being.

This past year I set out to become a TTouch Practitioner. I have a vision of teaching workshops in shelters and to individuals that want a kinder and more loving way to work with their pets. In the beginning I had doubts that I could do this. What do I know about dogs other than our own 3 French Bulldogs? How will we fund this undertaking? How am I going to leave my family for 6-7 days at a time and go all alone to places I've never been? And, again, I would ask.....what am I thinking???

One by one I discovered that the funds will find me, I can rent a car and find my way around a place I've never been, and I can LEARN what I need to know. A very important thought hit me one day. Maybe lacking a strong history with animals just might be more to my benefit than to my detriment. I've not had time to develop bad habits. I didn't have to go through the times when rough treatment of animals was the norm to get them to "do what they are told". I came in as a clean slate with a desire to learn.

The only time I had been in a shelter was when we took Pierre, now 6 years old, to his puppy class. I now spend 5-6 hours a week helping shelter animals while they help me learn to read them, to listen to what they are telling me. I've learned that Pit Bulls are just a dog, just like any other dog....only more misunderstood. I've worked with tiny baby Chihuahuas and a big beautiful English Mastiff, and I think just about everything in between.

So here we are 8 months after my first class. In March, 2010 I plan on taking the magical session 4 in Portland, Oregon (again) with Kathy Cascade (again) and become certified as a Practitioner in Training just one year after I set foot on my new path. Who would have thought?

Steve has been fantastic all along the way. I couldn't do this without his encouragement and support. He is so good to sacrifice so we have the money for classes, travel and equipment. He minds the home front while I train, work in the shelter and take on private case studies. I couldn't ask for a better partner and friend in life.

I'm in awe of the gift that Linda Tellington-Jones has given the world. Linda has truly taught us that we CAN talk to the animals and they CAN talk to us.

November 22, 2009

Photos of Iggy!

A special Thank You goes out to Iggy's foster mom, Nicole. I really wanted everyone to see what an adorable boy Iggy is and asked if she had any pics of him I could post....and here he is!!

This is how happy Iggy is in the comfort of his home, his yard and with his people. I really hope we can get him to look this happy most, if not all, of the time. This little boy is inside of the frightened boy I met Friday night.

Together, Nicole and I are going to encourage him to come out and play with us more and more.

Here is what Iggy looked like when he was released from his bondage in the woods of Michael Vick's fighting compound in Virginia. He was over a year old but not yet 2. He had been tied up in the woods where he could hear all the fighting, possibly see the executions and had no socialization.

Looks like he is just wishing everyone would go away!

I hope you will keep Nicole, Iggy and I in your thoughts and prayers as we teach him that life...and NEW things and people...can be very good!

November 21, 2009

My Ultimate Challenge

Iggy is a dog with a sorted past - through no fault of his own. Iggy is one of the many Pit Bulls that suffered abuse and violence at Michael Vicks dog fighting compound - all in the name of "sport".

I prepared by watching a video of him and talking with Kathy who worked on Alf, who had similar fear issues as Iggy.

I double dog dare ya to watch this video with dry eyes. Kathy is a hero in every sense of the word and I'm blessed that she was my first TTouch Instructor in Portland, Or (March, 2009). What an inspiration her work with Alf is to me. Not only is it an inspiration but she is such a valuable resource for me as I move forward with Iggy.

Back to Iggy......

Knowing he is VERY fearful I armed myself with a ton of tuna fudge, loaded my TTouch suit case with my typical stuff all the while not expecting to use any of it....and my new client folder. My plan was to ignore Iggy and talk with his foster Mom who runs a Pit Bull rescue in San Diego called "just a dog".

We agreed to have Iggy in the back yard where he is most comfortable and able to have lots a room to be as far away from me as he wanted. Nicole and I sat on towels on the grass and reviewed all the info in the folder. Iggy would come close to me an look. I'd ignore him and continue talking with Nicole and toss a treat his direction without looking at him. Within 2-3 minutes he came and sat by me but I still didn't look. He was taking treats from my hand and then would run away.

It wasn't long before I could look at him with soft eyes, offer calming signals and talk to him a little. He would run away and sit under a tree and gather his wits enough to come back. Never making a big deal of him either leaving or joining me. LOTS of treats.

Eventually I decided to teach him "Touch". If he touched my left hand with his nose he got treats out of my right. He thought this was a fun game. During this time Nicole and I talked about my background, her background...her visit to Virginia to help with the Vick friends...You name it and we talked about it. Treating Iggy from time to time and him getting braver and braver with me.

Nicole also runs a Pit Bull socialization class and she was asking how to dogs off a prong collar. So we talked about the options for that and decided my next visit I'll demo how I would approach that with the participation and permission of one of her other Pits. We will let Iggy watch and see nothing bad happens. Maybe it will have a positive impact on him.

Eventually Iggy allowed me to do TTouch on his face, ears, head and slowly over his body using the back of my hand. I wondered if he was standing still cuz he liked it or because he was afraid and thought he couldn't leave. So I stopped and talked to Nicole more. Iggy moved in closer to me. I did more touches letting him process from time to time. I was able to do Python Lifts on his legs and little Raccoons on his foot and the bottom of his foot. With that I ended the session with some fun and light Zig Zag touches on his body....I left him while he still wanted more.

Nicole is totally excited about my reaching him and we will get together again next Friday. I have the day off so I'll go over early in the morning so we can take as long as we want and work with all her dogs.

I was amazed that she was as excited about the session as I was and just as excited to be working with me as I was her.

Nope, I didn't get any pictures of him. It wasn't the right thing to do since he is so fearful. It will be a happy day when I can post a few pictures of him because that means he isn't terrified of a camera! Iggy is so fearful that he ran and hid when when Nicole went outside and had a pen in her was different and different terrifies him. It would have been totally disrespectful to whip out my camera and start shooting pictures.

We will get there.....we will take it very slow and let him watch while we do more advance things with some of his doggie buddies.

November 14, 2009

The growl that almost killed....

Wow, there is a lot to be said about Zorro and the love of a few good women that stood by his side and fought for his life! I'm honored to have the opportunity to work with him.

Talk about a misunderstood boy! Zorro could be the poster child for misunderstood boys. Not only was he misunderstood but he was also a victim of both people and circumstances.

Someone cut off his ears right before he arrived at the shelter! Can you imagine! More than likely he was being prepared for a career in fighting. This tactic is used so other dogs can't grab the ears. Can't grab and bite what isn't there! Ugh. People like this destroy my faith in mankind...they really aren't that "kind" sometimes.

After he arrived at the shelter he was neutered and it didn't go well. Burst stitches and infection were next to plague Zorro. Long story short Zorro growled at the wrong person one day and was removed from public view. A well fought battle saved Zorro from being euthanized but he was no longer welcome to stay where he was.

Does this look like a bad boy to you???

I'm amazed that anyone had to fight for this dog's right to live a happy life.
All because he vocalized that he was uncomfortable with a situation.

I'm gonna hop up on a soap box now and say my peace about growling.
FOLKS please don't forbid or condemn a dog for growling!! Think about it for a else can a dog tell us he isn't happy? Sure there are facial expressions and body language they try to tell us with...but if we aren't "listening" and we don't get it....they need to growl. If that is taken away from them then they have lost a valuable communication tool and they have no choice other than to bite. If we teach a dog not to growl we are, in effect, teaching them to bite.

Okay, getting down from my box now...

Thankfully there are groups like "just a dog" rescue. They specialize in boys like him and he was whisked away to private foster care where he is learning what toys and chewies are for. He has a pretty good appreciation for a tennis ball and a wading pool.

Zorro is getting training and socialization at school on Saturdays and I hear he is a fast learner. But his Foster family wondered if there was something more that TTouch could give him.

Today we had our first session. Zorro is quite the high energy boy! We improvised some course work and weaved in and around plants and navigated stairs and had all sorts of fun. I found out first hand what a quick learner Zorro is! Talk about some serious leash manners. I was impressed.

Our plan for Zorro is to teach him to slow down and smell the flowers...and to enjoy belly rubs . Soon we will set up a full size course and watch him really come into his own!

He is such a lovable boy and he is really making the most of his 2nd chance. People that fight for dogs like Zorro - and rescue groups like "just a dog" that welcome them with open arms - restore my faith in mankind.

What a difference a week makes!

I'm really happy to say the last of the Chihuahua puppies was adopted at an event today. That is a good thing for lots of reasons....not the least of which is I had really gotten attached to the little guy and Steve didn't like the fact that everyone except him had been adopted! Just what we need is another male dog, lol.


And Spunky was adopted last Sunday. Maybe his time spent in the Labyrinth and in the Confidence Course the day before helped with that...only Spunky knows for sure and he isn't telling. :-)

Today was a big one. I got to the shelter about 7:30 am and got all set up and worked with the dogs for 4 horus. I worked with Amanda, Lola, Jerry, and Jewel.

I've already introduced Lola and Amanda but here are Jerry & Jewel. Such sweet hearts.

Jerry came in with a friend named Ben. Ben was adopted and now Jerry is very sad.

Jewel...and she is, too!

After working them in the confidence course I spent some time with Sarah. Isn't her new haircut pretty? Poor thing has the worst ears I've ever seen. They are fused shut. NO holes at all. I'm sure she will feel much better when she gets to have her surgery. Her fund is growing. The volunteers have raised about $1,500 with another $1,000 to go. We'll get there.

One of my friends asked me to work with one of his fave dogs named Milo. He is set to go to Rescue as he has been determined to be unadoptable for some reason I was unable to recognize. I found him to be a darling boy but a tad mouthy. That is easily fixed and I showed his fave volunteer some nice calming strokes and mouth work that can be done on him. We also worked on "Stay on the Ground"....thanks Edie Jane. I like that so much better than "OFF!"

What I did next deserves its own page.....stay tuned!

November 12, 2009

Ear Surgery Needed for Sarah

Let me start by apologizing. I never ask for anything like this but Sarah needs help.

This is Sarah and she is at the Escondido Humane Society. She came into the shelter as a stray on September 18th. Sarah is 7 years old and she is battling a chronic ear condition since the moment she got there. Sarah must have come from a place where no one cared for her. She probably has had ear problems her whole life and it has never been taken care of.

She needs expensive surgery on both her ears. There is a surgery that can be done that will allow her to enjoy her life pain free. Problem is the quote from the Vet is $2,500. The shelter cannot afford this amount for one animal and the volunteers are trying their very best to raise the funds to give Sarah a new lease on life. She is such a sweet and loving girl in spite of her pain.

I have created a "Chip-In" site to benefit her. Through my friends at work and online I'd like to raise $1,000 toward her surgery. Once she has her surgery I can help her recouperate using TTouch! Sorry the page isn't pretty but I don't know how to do that and I just wanted to get the word out about Sarah. BTW, Paypal won't let me donate to the site I created. Rest assured my check is in a pile of those I've collected from my office friends!

Please feel free to cross post with other groups that might be willing to help Sarah.

Thanks and I promise not to make a habit of doing this!

November 5, 2009

Kudos to Escondido Humane Society

Escondido Humane Society does not euthanize based on breed, length of stay or space. From time to time a dog comes along that really tests out that policy. Dolly is such a dog.

Dolly is a silly Pit Bull mix (I think mixed with Great Dane!) that likes to dig and is rather particular about her canine companions. Dolly has been at the shelter for close to 500 days! That is close to 17 months!!! Living in the shelter for 17 months!


The shelter and the volunteers never gave up on Dolly. She was taken to adoption events and to special days out where she would proudly strut her stuff in her Orange “Adopt Me” vest.

Well Tuesday Dolly had her day! She was adopted by a couple with a large yard that said she is welcome to dig to her heart’s content. They recently lost their beloved dog so Dolly will be an only child. Her “Dad” is retired so he will have all day to play with her.

Thank you to EHS for never giving up on this wonderful girl.

Back in the Saddle Again!

Life is beginning to return to normal post surgery!

Although I need to be careful and have help moving the dogs around I can still work on them. I love it!!!

So last night I was at the shelter and had the opportunity to work on a litter of 7 three-month old Chihuahua Mix puppies. I'd visited them before they were "Adoptable" and they were frightened and cowering in their crate. Last night they weren't much different but one by one they allowed me to do touches on them and all but three of them became quite relaxed.

Today I noticed that one of them has been adopted. The great news is that the little ones never last long. I'll bet within a week all will be in forever homes.

Next I spent some time with Spunky. Whoever named this boy was dead on! A friend at the shelter took him out and let him pay really hard to wear him out before I worked with him. I can't imagine what this happy go lucky fella would have been like if I'd seen him fresh out of the kennel.

This weekend I plan to work with Spunky in the Confidence Course. I think he is in need of mental stimulation and a different sort of challenge.

Next was Lola's turn. When I first met Lola a few months ago I was stunned at how beautiful she was. Lately she has developed a bad rash, her coat has lost its sparkle and she is becoming depressed.

Lola and I had a great time and she was so receptive to the touch. At one point we laid down together on my sheet and cuddled and did touches. When Mark came back to transport her back he commented on how happy she looked.

This weekend Lola will get her turn in the confidence course but for a different reason than Spunky. I want to calm Spunky a few notches....and I want to lift Lola's spirits. Isn't it really cool that the same tool can be used to obtain different results?

Lola made my heart sing last night and now its my turn to make hers sing.

Amanda is a hound mix. I should read up on hounds because I really don't know much about that group of dogs. What I do know is Amanda is big! And she is beautiful. Her neck is fascinating, so long and graceful.

Amanda's only issue is she really doesn't care much for her next door kennel neighbor, Tex. Somehow he just rubs her the wrong way. Tex went to his new home today so I expect Amanda is doing the happy dance right about now.

I don't think Amanda will be a long term client. She just needed a bit of TLC and stress relief last night and I was quite happy to be of service.