|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|The fear has melted away and has been replaced by trust.|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!
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?
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.