I used TTouch on Tashi once when she got literally run over by one of those big wheeled trucks. The truck went right over her and she ran all the way to the Wabash River (not from Santa Fe. I was already in Indiana) and when I found her, she was pretty shook up, to say the least. TTouch was the only thing that made her relax her rigid posture and start to breathe again. (She lived another 11 years).
So last week, I brought Fozzie, Lamar, and Lady to explore the potential for TTouch to calm reactive dogs, reduce mouthiness, promote well-being and harmony among dogs, and alleviate the pain and inflammation of arthritis.
This training was led by Linda Tellington-Jones, the founder of TTouch whose center is in Santa Fe. Lamar, who is also from Santa Fe, came with me the first day and got to bond with several wonderful aunties, who helped watch over him on the days when I brought him with Fozzie or Lady.
|Photo: Debbie Bauer|
I was glad I brought him though. Seeing him through my classmates' eyes, I appreciated him in a way I haven't for years. I saw how stressful it is for him to live with all these foster dogs, especially Lady, since she's got that growly Chow thing going.
We got to do some TTouch for Lamar's arthritis, and in the evenings when I got him home, he seemed really happy, doing that happy growling, gurgling, groaning noise that I love.
Like he was feeling some relief and a new relaxation.
Most importantly, there was a shift in my connection with Lamar. I'm afraid that in all the excitement and revolving door of foster dogs over the past few years, I have lost sight of some of the magic of Lamar and that happy, silly energy that used to be at the forefront in our relationship.
Now I feel it again, and it feels like Lamar does too. He's doing more of that happy paw lift that drew me to him the day I first saw him in the shelter, and he's even giving me more kisses.
I am determined to help him get the most enjoyment and magic he can out of life. Instead of getting frustrated when he growls at a Lady or Fozzie near him, I go over to him and do little circles around his nose and ears to release endorphins and help him feel safe. I'm also making more of an effort to put his needs first, and keep Lady and Fozzie away from him when he feels like having his own space.
Lady seemed to enjoy coming to class, being handled by all those new people, and we got set up in a nice little enclosure so she could see out and be included in the center of class, but not be overwhelmed by the sight of other dogs.
That was one of the things I loved about this training, was how Linda wanted everyone--reactive dogs, arthritic dogs, nervous dogs, terrified dogs,
|Treasure, a double merle sheltie, is blind and deaf|
and a blind and deaf dog, to feel included.
Everyone was in the circle, with barriers if needed, and everyone made progress.
The first day, there was a small dog in the enclosure in the far corner who would just go crazy when anyone--human or canine--went near him.
He spent the next two days in class with a calming wrap around his head, his person doing calming TTouches.
By the third day, the enclosure was down, Buddy was in the circle, and he was much less reactive.
Lady didn't have any huge transformation, but I did gain a new thoughtfulness and respect about her arthritis. How amazing is it that she maintains such a sunny outlook on life--always ready to go for a walk, always wagging and eager for kisses when she sees a human (any human)--when it is clearly so difficult for her to get around?
Though Lady liked being around all those new people, it was clear she didn't want to get up and move around so much. As with Lamar, having Lady with me there brought me a new appreciation for this little being who is sharing my life right now. How it's OK for her not to get much exercise, and to lose weight slowly.
|Photo: Debbie Bauer|
As always, the experience I had with Fozzie will occupy a chapter of its own. Stay tuned later this week for more on our TTouch journey.