Monday, February 4, 2013
Tavin: Moment by Moment with a Fearful Dog
Tavin is a dear, lovely dog. At the moment, though, whatever combination of nature and nurture (or lack thereof) which occurred before her present guardian adopted her presently has much of her inner beauty hidden behind a lot of fear. She is a very hypersensitive, fearful Chihuahua who can bite when she gets especially scared. She has guarding issues, and can be unpredictable as far as being approached by people to be petted. She seems to be nearly constantly on alert, and really has a hard time relaxing. It is also hard for Tavin to have anything put on her body, so to put a harness on is very difficult for both her and for her guardian, Carol. Carol can touch Tavin just about anywhere on her body, but when it comes to putting something on her, that is a different story.
Carol (http://superdogtraining.com/), who kindly took her in recently, has been doing all she can to help Tavin to feel comfortable and safe. There are also four cats in the household, who are often wary of Tavin, and who Tavin sometimes chases. The first couple of appointments, I only saw Kitty, the most social of the four cats. The rest of them remained under the bed.
I sense, as I do with fearful animals, that the more Tavin can feel at ease, the more her true personality will be able to come forth, and that in time, with gentle and patient work, that will be able to happen.
In working with her, I wanted to feel safe as well as having Tavin feel safe, so I have had Carol put a muzzle on Tavin while I am working with her. During the first session, I showed Carol many of the TTouches so that she can do them on Tavin, also how to do a couple of simple TTouch wraps. TTouch can help to balance the nervous system and, over time, can cause animals to react differently to stress. It will also help an animal to react differently when it is touched, as it begins to associate touch with a very positive feeling. But more than that, there is a very deep and profound way that the gentle TTouches influence the nervous system - which helps to explain how it is more effective in changing behavior than simply petting the animal.
After this initial session, I made a Bach Flower Remedy for Tavin, in both drop and spray form, so that it can be given to Tavin internally and can be sprayed into the environment. Also, in the course of the first two sessions, I showed Carol how set up a simple labyrinth in her apartment so that she could practice that with Tavin in between sessions.
During the next session, I also began to do some Reiki work with Tavin, and that appeared to affect her on an even deeper level than the TTouches. That is not to say that one modality is "better" than the other. Each animal is individual as to what approach or sequence of approaches will be optimal for them. With animals that are as sensitive as Tavin, it is often beneficial to start out with Reiki, and then begin to work in TTouches. Your intuition will help to guide you.
With Tavin, I first send the energy to her with my hands off, and eventually she moved towards me and helped guide my hands to where she wanted them to be, which was near the base of her spine, or over the Base or Root Chakra (chakras are energy centers in the body). This Chakra has to do with feeling safe, at home, and grounded. It made complete sense that she guided my hands there. I saw some huge sighs, and felt her letting go in a very deep way. It looked like she had a smile on her face.
During the third session last week, I once again decided to focus on Reiki with her, with a few TTouches blended in. It took Tavin a while to settle. Initially Tavin was a bit distracted as Carol was not sitting on the bed with us. She did start to relax bit by bit, though, at times partially sitting on my lap to move her body into my hands as I offered her Reiki.
Once Carol sat on the bed with us, Tavin became more focused and relaxed, and after a short while Tavin settled in very nicely on Carol's lap, which Carol said she rarely does. At this point, I had my hands a bit away from her. With very sensitive animals, one has to be particularly sensitive as to how close they want your hands to be, because the Reiki energy can sometimes be too overwhelming to do hands-on. However, many times it will become more comfortable for them as they begin to relax. Carol also had some relaxing music on, which can be of tremendous help.
As I continued to let the energy flow, I felt the atmosphere of the whole apartment become more quiet and calm and light. Kitty came up on the bed, rubbed her head into one of my hands, and settled on one side of Carol. I gradually moved closer to Tavin and eventually had one of my hands directly on her. As in the previous appointment, my hand was drawn to her base chakra, and for some reason it felt very right for just my fingertips (rather than my whole hand) to be in contact with this part of her body. My fingers were so strongly connected, it felt as though they were plugged into her body - that the energy didn't stop at where her body and my fingers met, that it was being pulled into and absorbed inside her body. Tavin was becoming more and more relaxed, in a sleeping position with her head down. And she did a couple of those wonderful big sighs of letting go.
At this moment, the most surprising thing happened. Seemingly from out of nowhere, Layla, a gorgeous long-haired grey cat, gracefully leaped up on the bed and began rubbing herself against my hand that was not in contact with Tavin. Carol said that Layla was by far the shyest of her cats, and the most traumatized by Tavin's presence. She said that the other cats recover fairly quickly if Tavin chases them, but not Layla. And yet here was Layla up on the bed, rubbing into my hand, wanting attention, and settling very near where Tavin was. I think that Tavin was so relaxed that she was giving off a completely different vibe, so that Layla felt comfortable being there. I did some TTouch with her, all the while keeping my other hand connected to Tavin, and then began to send Reiki to both of them, one hand on Tavin and the other on Layla (they were on either side of me). Layla relaxed and stayed next to me for the rest of the session. Both animals were taking in the energy and were completely at ease. Reiki can help to create such a peaceful atmosphere, and can be so helpful in bringing more harmony in a household.
Thank you to Carol and to all your wonderful animals. This was a very magical day, and I look forward to seeing you again soon. :)