Tuesday, December 29, 2009

San Francisco Dogs

San Francisco is such a great town for dogs, and while we've been here we've been walking on the beach near Crissy Field, where many people bring their dogs to play. It has been great to once again have such a powerful connection with the pure and very contagious joy which dogs can radiate, and it is wonderful to see these dogs be able to just cut loose, run as fast as they can and play with their friends.

I know there is also always potential danger when dogs are off-leash, but in my experience at this particular place, the owners appear to be very watchful, respectful and responsible with their dogs. Above are two adorable little dogs who were chasing each other. It is hard to get a sense of scale but they are both quite small. The dog on the right is a miniature husky, which I had never seen, and a miniature doberman.

Working with the animals in the shelter in New York is an ongoing incredible journey and these brave and spirited animals teach me so much. But there can be such intensity and sometimes stress, as so many of these animals have arrived from dire conditions and we want to do our best to help them as much as we can. I greatly miss being at the shelter while out in SF but I think it is good to have a chance for a break from the intensity, step back and clear my mind for a few days.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

More San Francisco Dogs

I forgot to publish this post for a while, oops! Here are some photos I took of some of the dogs I met on the beach when I was out in San Francisco. My guy Jeffrey and I would walk every morning on the beach near Crissy Field there, and people and their dogs are always out having a great time. It is such a delight to feel the pure joy these animals have, being out in the open where they can run to their heart's content, play in the water and do whatever other fun things dogs enjoy. I can't remember whether the two little dudes above are brothers or father and son, but they are adorable.

Above is a mini doberman with a miniature Husky (a type of mini I had never seen), these dogs were so sweet together.
And of course I love this feisty little guy below, tearing off at full speed.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Journey to the Bay Area

We're spending a few days with family in the San Francisco Bay Area, and what a lovely place it is. San Francisco is a very animal-friendly, and particularly dog-friendly town, and there is a great beach for dogs to run on down near Crissy Field, which is close to the Golden Gate Bridge. I have an ongoing series of photos taken of dogs on this beach. Above you'll see one having a great time on a sunny day here.

We also drove to the Point Reyes area, where they have many cow pastures alongside the road. We pulled off the road at one point and I got out with my camera. There was a LOONNG line of cows all along the fence who were coming to look at me and see what I was up to. I thought it would be interesting to see if I could TTouch them but that was not in the cards as we didn't have much time to spend there and these cows seemed to be pretty shy and unaccustomed to human contact. I did get a chance to do a few air circles near them and a few small strokes on the head of the cow pictured below, who seemed to be the most dominant cow who the others would follow. Every time they heard even the most subtle sound, such as my camera clicking off, they all moved in unison. At one point it was very humorous because I was looking at them instead of where I was going, and suddenly down I went onto the ground, as I had stepped in a huge hole! no harm done to me but we did start to laugh, which I think startled the cows a bit, they seemed a bit confused about the purpose of my presence. I'm sure if I had a suitable treat to give them they would have been very glad to take it but unfortunately I didn't. Hope to see them next time I take a trip out here with treat in hand!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ebony and Harold III

A while back I spoke about doing slow, patient work with the black cat pictured above, who I am calling Ebony. I had not been able to work with her for a while, so what a surprise I had when I opened her cage and began to do some chimp touches on her head and body and ear strokes. She had been getting increasingly friendly with me but somehow in between the last time I worked with her and this time (probably a week and a half), there had been a change in her and now she was actually rubbing herself against my hand and purring. It was strange to think that this was the same cat that some weeks ago was crouched in the back of the cage, hissing and flattening its ears when first approached. TTouch has certainly helped, but also regular contact with some of the other people who work at the shelter has been helpful. Another thing that has seemed to help her become more socialized is by having a cagemate who is a more socialized cat. We are finding that sometimes a semiferal cat can appear to learn to be more socialized when they are paired with a cat that is more friendly, though it can be not so helpful to have a cagemate who is too much of an attention hog, as that can result in the shy cat just being stuck in the back of the cage or up on the shelf. In Ebony's case, her latest cagemate who is quite a dominant boy decided that the shelf in the back top of the cage was his, forcing Ebony to hang out more in the front of the cage. I think over time she grew used to being there and that she realized that being touched feels pretty good after all! I am sending her best wishes for being adopted soon -- as you can see, she is gorgeous, with big lovely eyes and a shiny coat.

The next thing I wanted to mention is that sometimes we will get a cat in that looks just like another one who was recently in the shelter, and sometimes they even have the same temperament. The kitty pictured above we are calling Harold III (there was a Harold II, who had similar coloring but was larger, so not as similar as Harold I and III). His coloring, markings and fur texture are nearly identical to that of the first Harold that we had a while back. He also has that wise little look on his face. He was a bit more shy at first than the other one, but after a few times of me taking him out of the cage, combing him and doing TTouch on him, he does the same thing as the other one did -- he settles right down in my lap, looking very comfortable even when sometimes the surrounding pace of the shelter can be a bit hectic. I started out with ear strokes, raccoon touches around his mouth area and his head and then worked my way down his back doing chimp touches. You have to love this little guy and I'm sure he will find a nice person to give him a home soon.

The Indomitable Spirit of a Kitten

Quite often when animals come into our shelter, they are in pretty rough shape. We do our best to help them with TLC, nourishment, medication when needed, and veterinary care if required.
I am so often struck with the strength of spirit of some of these creatures -- and a small calico kitten who ended up at our shelter is one of those special beings. She was very sick and so we sent her to the vet and it turned out that her internal infection had also gone into her eyes, which resulted in her needing to have an eye removed.

The day after the kitten came back from surgery, she seemed to still be adjusting to only seeing with one eye and a bit hesitant when jumping down from the shelf in her cage but she was very much seeking attention, purring and rubbing against my hand. The day after that, she was playing with the other kittens in her cage (nobody was playing too rough with her either), and when I came near her cage she came right to the front, sitting up straight and looking right at me with a very confident look. Before I got to the shelter, I was thinking about how tragic this was, this young little being that has had such a rough start, being so sick, having to be at the vet for quite a while and needing to have an eye removed. But here she was, looking at me as though saying, "What's the problem? I'm here, I feel good and I'm ready for some attention from you".

When I took her out of the cage to comb her and do TTouch on her, she was very receptive, was purring and I could just feel so much gratitude coming from her. On the little kittens, I have been using a very small, inexpensive mustache comb which I found in a local pharmacy. The kittens are very soothed by being combed and the fine-tooth comb is great to use on their very short, fine fur. I have been doing a lot of ear strokes on this kitten as well, as the ear has many acupressure points, so this can help strengthen the immune system and digestive system.

Every day when I come in, she is waiting right at the front of her cage for me to take her out and do TTouch on her.

I have to thank this kitten for teaching me so much and for showing me what strength and persistence of spirit is possible from a very young, small creature. She also reminded me once again of how important it is to truly appreciate the moment.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Extra TLC for Garbanzo

It has got to be one of the most difficult things when one of our own animals is sick, we want so badly to help them and to have them tell us what they are feeling. My cat Garbanzo, pictured above, is nearly 16 and has been hyperthyroid for a couple of years, and he has been going strong and his levels are kept stable w/medication (Methimazole), and we are giving him quite a few other natural supplements to keep his immune system strong. He generally has a very enthusiatic appetite (that is a euphemism!), so if he is not interested in eating, I know that something is very wrong.
He was not interested in eating for several days, but really didn't have a lot of other symptoms, other than his heart rate being a bit elevated from the usual (I have a stethescope and listen to his heart rate every couple of days), and vomiting a little bit. I was able to get him to eat just very tiny bits of wet food or baby food. I gave him a homeopathic remedy recommended by my homeopathic vet (who I consult over the phone) that usually helps when Garbanzo has had digestive issues, but it didn't seem to have much effect.
This was several days into this so I decided it was time to take him to the conventional vet we use. When I took him to the vet, it turned out his blood levels were normal (his thyroid rate actually came down a bit from last time we checked) except for the amylase level, so the vet had us give him some pepcid ac, along w/metameucil and a hairball remedy because he found that Garbanzo seemed constipated and thought that might account for the decreased appetite.
After the first time giving him the pepcid, still Garbanzo was not hungry, though I tried all kinds of bribe foods -- sardines, tuna, baby food, etc. Earlier that day, I had done Reiki on him and had felt a lot of heat in the lower area of his body, near his tail. He had responded very much to the Reiki, and I felt his body relax with the warmth of my hands. At this point I was very mystified as to what was going on and, of course, continued to be stressed and concerned, even though his blood levels had at least ruled out some scary things.
I did some TTouch very slowly down his body, using connected abalone touches going down his body, and really felt him release and relax. I also did ear strokes and raccoon touches around the outside of his mouth, which he really responds to. He looked at me with an expression that told me, "Don't worry, I'm going to be all right." I do TTouch on Garbanzo all the time but at times like this I really try to become more focused and specific on what I am doing with him.
I went to the shelter to help a few animals there, and when I returned, my guy Jeffrey said he had noticed a change in Garbanzo, that he seemed better. Garbanzo and Jeffrey are very connected and great buddies, and Jeffrey often does some TTouch on Garbanzo as well. I had brought home some sliced turkey with me, as that was a bribe food I had not tried. Before I even unwrapped the turkey, Garbanzo had come up to me with his "looking for food" dance, looking as though he is praying to the refridgerator. I gave him a bit of the turkey, and he scarfed it down like his regular old self, and when I then gave him some wet food, he ate that enthusiatically as well. Hooray! Since Saturday night, he has been getting back to his regular feisty, hungry self. I have continued to do Reiki and TTouch on Garbanzo to try to help him along the way as well.
What a relief that was. I also want to mention that I had some wonderful insights given to me by my friend, animal communicator Eileen Garfinkel, as she had checked in with Garbanzo. Thanks so much! Here's to Garbanzo, and his continued heath, I love that little guy!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cadbury and Harold

We have gotten a bunch more animals in lately at Social Tees, both cats and dogs, so if you are in NYC, come on down and have a look! Two of my new friends are Cadbury (pictured above), named because he is the color of semisweet chocolate, and Harold (pictured below). They both came in with very bad colds and runny eyes, so I was asked to give them eye medication each day for a while. Of course I have turned the medication-giving into a whole little event. I have been combing the cats using what is probably a mustache comb, a very small-sized and small-toothed comb which is perfect for combing kittens who have very short fur and can be sensitive. The combing seems to be very soothing to them. Little Harold was quite dirty when he arrived, and so I gave him a good wipe-down with pet wipes and a damp paper towel, then dried him off with a paper towel. I have been wiping both cats around their face area carefully to clean the residue left by the runny eyes. I am happy to say that their eyes have pretty much cleared up already (this is after a few days of medication), and their colds appear to be just about gone (they were given antibiotics for this). Since I have been taking them out of the cage to do all this, of course I incorporate a lot of TTouch to make this a comfortable experience. Little Harold now settles right down on my lap the minute I put him there and he seems to find the whole experience very relaxing. Cadbury is a more peppy kitten in general but his energy also relaxes down a notch after doing some chimp touches down his body and raccoon touches all over his head along with some ear strokes.

I have to admit that little Harold has found a special place in my heart and it is very hard not to bring him home! He has such a wistful, wise face. Some kittens have a look of wisdom beyond their years, and he is one of those kittens for sure! Both these little guys are absolutely irresistible and I'm sure they will find homes soon.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Jesse James Gets Adopted

Yesterday a very nice young woman came into the shelter and was interested in having a look at my pal Jesse James. Of course I was happy to tell her all about him. I explained to him that he is a great little dog but one has to really be observant and err on the side of caution as to how much contact he is ready for. I showed her how he will put his paw on your knee when he is ready to be picked up to put on your lap, etc. We also went for a walk with him. I showed her how I use the step-in harness and TTouch leash (which I donated to her), clipped to the side clips of the harness, which is a great setup for a dog who is small or very low to the ground like a dachshund. I explained to her how when you put on the step-in harness, it is easy to remember which part of the clip is where because "The female is always right" (thanks, Kathy Cascade, for teaching me that). Jesse gets VERY excited when he knows he is going to be going out for a walk, so it was good that she saw the reality of that and that it can be a bit of a challenge to get his harness and leash on!

The young woman fell absolutely in love with Jesse (I can't blame her) so she decided to adopt him. I am very happy for her and happy for Jesse that he is going to a very kind person. I have to admit it was very strange after they left the shelter though, as his absence was so palpable. I will miss him so much but I truly hope this works out well for both of them, and send them all the best for a great life together.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Taking Jesse James for a Walk

When I took the Chihuahua at the shelter (Social Tees Shelter), Jesse James, to have a bath a few days ago, I noticed that he gets so excited to go out when I bring out his leash. So today when I got to the shelter I took him out for a walk. Again, when I brought out the leash, he went running and jumping towards the door. Again, I put on a step-in harness with a double-ended leash clipped to the two side clips of the harness to have two points of contact, as Jesse can get pully on the leash. When we got out, he was very excited to be outside, smelling everything, looking around, etc. We took a little walk around the neighborhood, ending up at Animal Crackers, a wonderful local pet store on East Second St in NYC, where they gave him some treats, which helped to make the walk even more special for him.

When we got back from the shelter, Jesse munched on his treats from Animal Crackers and seemed more relaxed than usual and when it came time to put him in a cage for a night, he went in on his own and was very quiet and content there. I want to start doing this more often for him, or have other volunteers take him out, it really makes a difference.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Jesse James Gets a Bath

My friend and fellow volunteer Estee arranged for a local pet grooming and bath place, Puppy Love, to donate a professional bath for our friend Jesse James. So I got him ready to go out from Social Tees with a step-in harness and the double-ended TTouch leash clipped to the two side clips of the harness, giving him two points of contact. I had previously walked him around in the shelter with this setup and he was very cooperative. He also really responded the minute I brought out the leash, so that signaled to me that he likes to go out for walks! And indeed when I got him outside he was excited to be there, looking at everything, sniffing all the different smells etc. At points he did try to pull on the leash but if I spread my hands apart (each hand holding one end of the leash) or if I stroked one side of the leash then the other, he came back in balance. When we passed people, he was perfectly polite and we even passed a dog at one point, who he was curious about but as I wanted to err on the side of caution and keep him away, when I signaled to him on the lead to come back to my side, again he was quite cooperative.

When I got him to Puppy Love I told them that Jesse might get a little feisty with someone he didn't know, and they were totally unfazed. When I handed him over to the man who would bathe him, Jesse acted as though he already knew this guy. I felt very good about the whole situation so I'm sure he picked up on this as well.

When I came back to pick Jesse up, what a jolly little guy! The fellows at Puppy Love said he had been a perfect little gentleman and they gave him some treats. Jesse's fur felt so soft and he smelled great. It really did seem that he felt good being clean as well. Congrats Jesse! He's really coming along.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Building Trust

Hi everyone, sometimes I am presented with some challenging animals at Social Tees Shelter, and fortunately it is a no-kill shelter so I do have time to work with them for a number of sessions.
The black cat below has been in the shelter for about six weeks and is still quite shy, but it is becoming socialized little by little. Initially it would only lurk in the back of the cage up on the shelf. The cat's most recent cage mate who is a very dominant cat has taken over the back shelf quite often, so circumstances have encouraged this cat to hang out more in the front of the cage (luckily it is brave enough not to hide in the litter box behind, which many cats do at first). When I first begin to approach the cat with my hand, it still often looks scared but will not bite. I begin on its head. Simply stroking the ears, which are usually very tense, can help the cat to relax quite quickly, and it is easy to see this happening. I stroke the ears and do little raccoon touches on its forehead, all around its head and the back of its neck. I find that a lot of the shelter cats are very tense in the back of the neck, and working here can also help the rest of the body begin to relax. By this time, the cat will start stretching its body out and looking more comfortable. I still work in touches on its body intermittently, doing a few touches down the body and then going back to the head where it is more comfortable being touched. You can see below this lovely animal still has its eyes pretty wide but it is generally much more comfortable than it was when it arrived at the shelter.

Our lovely big grey boy Stuart has required very gradual, patient work as well. He still is a bit of a "split personality" cat, who can stretch out next to me comfortably on a table one moment and then swat me the next, so I have to be very watchful to keep both of us safe (him safe from escaping when I have him out of the cage and me safe from his claws). I have had to take him out of the cage recently again to give him eye and nose meds (he had a cold, got better, then got worse again). Fortunately, the second time, he has responded very quickly to the medication, but it has also been good for him to get used to being handled - taken in and out of the cage, placed on a table etc. Having him on the table is a great chance to do some TTouch on him. He really responds to TTouch on his ears and head, and these touches trigger more relaxation in his body, but again I have to be careful when doing circles or strokes on his body, as he can easily be over-stimulated and swat. Here he is pictured below - a very soulful boy. I'm glad he is getting better and look forward to working with him more.