Monday, June 10, 2013

A Week in the Wonderful World of TTouch

Last week, I finally did a six-day TTouch training after thinking about doing so for the last three years. I first learned about TTouch when I was living in Santa Fe in 1997, and I found a practitioner who showed me how to use these little circle-and-a-quarter motions on my little grumpy cattle dog Tashi's skin to help bring calmness, groundedness, integration, and healing. 

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
Lamar was definitely a bit ill-at-ease with being in a different place with all sorts of new people and some new dogs, and he didn't really want a lot of people handling him. 

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
What a gift to be surrounded by these little teachers, and to get to spend such a transformative week with them.

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.


  1. TTouch is a wonderful therapy - thanks for sharing :-) woofs and licks from Magic xx

  2. Wow! This sounds wonderful and just perfect for your business and practice. I can't wait to hear more. Santa Fe...I'm guessing you drove out? That's an adventure in itself.

    1. The training was right here in Maryland--they have trainings all over! (listed here Though I sure wouldn't mind a trip back to Santa Fe....

  3. What a wonderful training. I've been interested in TTouch for years. I know some of the touches. But the silly animal names keep me from keeping track of them.

    I loved hearing how this training strengthened your relationship with Lamar. There's nothing like deep, total concentration on someone you love.

    Are you actually pursuing certification as a TTouch provider?

  4. So interesting! I can't wait to hear more about the rest of this training. I am sure it is going to be really helpful to you!

  5. I'm so glad you had the opportunity to do this. I rub little circles around Delilah's ears and it's so satisfying to me when she takes a deep breath and sighs. It's like a release of anxiety.

    It's good that you and Lamar are in tune, that must make you feel wonderful.

  6. I wish there were a place around here where I could learn more about it! I have a feeling there are several dogs in our house who would benefit from it right now...

  7. I've known about TTouch for years and have tried it a couple of times but have been meaning to try it out further. Thanks you this inspiring and motivating story!
    Dina Mom

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  9. I am so glad I was on PBU today and stumbled across your blog! We share a love of the outdoors, ecology, dance and of course our dogs, I look forward to following you guys! I also have been thinking of trying TTouch but whenever the seminars are going on I always seem to be busy.

  10. Yea Kirsten, you're giving Lamar such a wonderful experience. He'll be a happier boy because of you. After a few days of nice weather, we're going back into typical June weather, 3 days of intermittent rain.


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