Sunday, October 11, 2009

TTouch Training in Dayton with Debby Potts: Dusty

Last week I did my fifth TTouch training in Dayton, New Jersey with Debby Potts (, who is a fabulous instructor. Each TTouch teacher I have had has been wonderful, and each one has their own specialties of knowledge, adding another dimension to what I know about TTouch. Debby has such a huge amount of knowledge to share and also has a great sense of humor, which is always appreciated!

Above is a picture of Jude and her dog Dusty. You can see from the picture how bonded they are. Jude was in my last training in Dayton with her three dogs, and this time she focused on Dusty. Dusty has come a long way since the last training, and made great strides during this training. Both Dusty and Jude taught me a tremendous amount this training. I am so thankful for this.

Dusty is reactive to other dogs and to people, so we all made sure to be very conscious and considerate, not staring at him or approaching him head-on. When we touched him and worked with him, Jude had a muzzle on him to make sure everyone kept safe.

The second day, Debby showed us one way to get a dog accustomed to having someone other than their owner touch them. First, Jude began to do TTouch on Dusty.

Then Debby joined Jude and they both began to do TTouch on Dusty together. This really was a magical moment. Both Debby and Jude were SO in the moment with Dusty, and in synch with each other as well.

Dusty grew more and more relaxed as they both worked on him, and was very responsive to TTouch in general. He went from a sitting position to lying down as they worked.

Later in the training, we went outside to do leash work with the dogs. Dusty was extremely cooperative and a setup with two points of contact worked like a charm for him. I had the opportunity of walking Dusty on a leash a couple of times, and felt I only needed to hold the leash very lightly, as he was responsive to very light signals vocally and with the leash. Before long, I felt completely in synch with Dusty, as though were were completely connected. I walked him in various directions around orange cones and stopped intermittently, doing some TTouch on him, to which he was very responsive. I did slow zigzag touches down his body and down his legs, as well as abalone touches on his body and ear touches.

After the second time walking Dusty came a very big learning moment, which fortunately turned out OK. Jude, Grace Ann (one of our wonderful teaching assistants) and I were talking and I was holding Dusty very lightly on the leash. All of a sudden, I felt Dusty jerk and pull with incredible strength and before I knew it, I was on the ground and Dusty had broken free from me and he and one of the other dogs, Chanhiya (who is also a reactive dog), were entangled in a dog fight where the two dogs looked like one dog and there was a lot of growling and noise. Fortunately Grace Ann stepped right in and helped break up the fight and luckily both dogs were all right. I was a little black and blue as I had ended up face down on the ground but I was more concerned to see if the dogs and people were all right, which fortunately they were, other than being shaken up. Jude gave us (including Dusty) Rescue Remedy, which was much needed and appreciated.

This was a huge lesson to us all to keep aware and in the moment at all times, and to keep our peripheral vision active, particularly when we are dealing with reactive dogs. I will certainly never forget it! I apologized profusely, as I really felt bad that I had not been as vigilant as I should have been.

Below, you see Jude and Marge walking Dusty in the graveyard which is adjacent to the training area a while after the scuffle. Fortunately, Dusty seemed to be calming down at this point.

There is a very special type of connection with an animal that happens through TTouch. With all the animals I do TTouch on, I feel that there is a part of them that touches my heart in a unique and profound way and stays with me forever. I certainly know this is true with Dusty.

Thank you Jude and Dusty, I really appreciated working with you and learning from you!

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