Friday, June 26, 2009

Santa Fe TTouch Dogs Part 1

Hi folks, this will take a few entries, but I'd like to share some more about some of the dogs that we worked with in the training in Santa Fe. Above you see two pictures of me with Rita's handsome Belgian Turvuren, Copper (the middle picture is blurry as I must have been in mid-ttouch!), and the bottom picture you see Rita holding him (he doesn't look too stressed out there, does he?). Can you tell that I really enjoy this dog?

Rita was one of the assistants in the training, who were all incredibly helpful. Rita has been very supportive throughout the training, has a great eye and also has a great sense of humor, which is always very much appreciated :)

Today I worked with Copper, walking him through the labyrinth, cones, over a wood board etc. First Copper walked in between Rita and me to get him used to walking with me. Then I began to walk Copper through the various parts of the confidence course, stopping every now and then, occasionally giving Copper a treat at first, but then I stopped the treat-giving to see if I could do that, and Copper was most cooperative. I also did some zigzag touches and abalone touches on Copper's body from time to time, as well as some ear strokes and touches on his head. Rita gave me really helpful feedback about my body position, how I was holding the leash, etc.

Then another level of change came when Rita went away from where Copper and I were working. Again, I have to say, Copper was most cooperative! He looked for Rita now and then but he came along when I asked him to, and when I stopped walking each time I would do some TTouch on him, speaking to him in a low, calm voice and Copper grew more and more at ease with me. Thank you Rita and Copper! This session helped ME to get a bit more confident with the process of working with the confidence course, and I appreciate you both teaching me more about that.

Now a bit more about dear Mr. Brown, who I have spoken about before. In the first picture you see him standing there with his very determined look, and then you see him walking along very proudly with a little wrap with his owner, Lauren, a delightful woman who used to live in my stomping grounds, New York, but is currently in San Diego. Today I helped Lauren put the wrap above on Mr. Brown. We used half-inch sewing elastic, as a 2-inch ace bandage is way too thick for the little fellow. Mr. Brown also gets quite concerned about being away from Lauren, so we did a little session where I had him on the leash and would lure him away from Lauren using a treat, then after I gave him the treat I would do a few TTouches. Little by little, I was able to touch him for longer periods of time. At the end, I found that using my whole hand on his body seemed to be comforting to him, and I got in a few belly lifts, which he also seemed to find calming. Lauren sweetly said she wished I was in San Diego to come and work with him, and I feel the same - I felt a strong connection with Mr. Brown and would love to have the opportunity to work with him again -- at the end of this session it felt at a point where some more sessions of work with him could have jumped to another level. Maybe we'll have the good fortune to cross paths at another training or elsewhere, I hope so!

Mr. Brown made a lot of progress during the course of the workshop thanks to the thoughtful work Kathy Cascade, Lauren and others did on him.

Thank you, Lauren and Mr. Brown -- Mr. Brown reminded me once again of how important patience and sensitivity is, particularly with small dogs. I really bring my focus down to their level to try to truly meet them where they are.

More about some of the dogs in the training will be coming soon!

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