Friday, May 28, 2010

Mika and Mischa, update

I was getting ready to write a blog post of an update with my little grey and white brother and sister kitties at the shelter, Mika and Mischa. They have been getting increasingly relaxed with me, with other people, and with other cats. They have been in the window at Social Tees shelter with several other cats, and appearing to be quite content, as you can see by the pix of them relaxing in this post (Mischa above, Mika below). Mika is still the shyer of the two but has been beginning to come forward for contact, which is a huge step for her. She especially responds to zigzag touches. Mischa comes right up to me for TTouch when I enter the window area and especially responds to little circles around his head, zigzag touches and llama touches on his body. When I am not touching him, he comes to play with my shoelaces, very cute.


A couple of days ago, Robert, the owner of the shelter, came to the back room to get me as a nice woman was getting ready to adopt Mika and Mischa -- what a very nice surprise!! She seems like a very gentle person. I told her they might be a bit shy at first but that they were very gentle, sweet cats. I showed her and her friend how to do some gentle zigzags on the cats, etc.

These two kitties have come such a long way in the months that I have worked on them. They came in completely terrified and hiding in their litter box, and now are so much more confident and comfortable. I wish these sweet little souls a very happy life in their new home.

Sparkle's Continued Journey

Sparkle is one of the more challenging kitties I have worked with. When she arrived, she was 2 1/2 to three months old and, I think, completely feral. She was absolutely terrified of any contact whatsoever. She was always hunched up in the back of the cage and hissed and swatted at any motion anywhere in her direction. I started out working with her with feathers, back scratcher, a dowel with an ace bandage on it, etc and could only do a few touches at a time at first. She seemed to like the back of the hand of the back scratcher and I found I could calm the hissing by doing little circles on her forehead and around her ears with that.

We thought we could help her by putting her with a friendly cat, so we put her with Wally, a friendly grey and white guy who is maybe 2-3 years old, and before long, they were cuddling together. He made her much more at ease and though she still would hiss upon having her cage opened, you could tell she was much more comfortable and she has become increasingly playful. Now she is very often right in the front of her cage, acting very playful, sticking her paw out and trying to play with cats on either side.

Little by little I worked up to having more and more contact with her, until I was doing TTouch on her using gardening gloves to protect my hands. Lately I have been able to do TTouch on her using my hand with no gloves, doing little raccoon touches around her forehead, neck, mouth, as well as some ear strokes.

Yesterday I had a big surprise. I began with Sparkle doing the raccoon touches on her head, and felt her being more receptive to me, without the initial resistance of one hiss-swat and then a little flinch, which relaxes once I touch her. sooo I decided to take the next step, and began doing some connected chimp touches and clouded leopard touches going down one side of her body, and the other, and felt her actually relax into it. I didn't continue too long as I didn't want to push the issue, so I gave her a break and then was able to do this again. I also was able to do ear strokes on her with a more firm touch than I had ever been able to do before. Her friend Wally even seemed to look at me as though he was a bit surprised :)

This girl has come such a long way and I thank her for trusting me and I look forward to continuing to work with her :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mayor's Alliance Cats thru Tavi and Friends

The other day I went again to do TTouch on some cats through Tavi & Friends, through their TTouch-in-Rescue™ program to provide TTouch® to the animals of one of TaF's partner groups, the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals. These cats are temporarily at a boarding facility until they can be sent to various rescue groups or sent out to an adoption event, etc. Some of them are quite friendly and others need a great deal of socialization.

There were some cats who I had worked on before and some others who I hadn't met. Porter, who I worked on last time, has continued to make progress due to the other Tavi folks and other volunteers who have been working with him. He still needs time-out from being touched sometimes, so it is really best to just touch him a bit, give him a break, then continue. But he is very curious and seeking attention now, whereas in the beginning he was in the back of his cage, terrified.

The amazing-looking fellow below is named Zorro, and you can see why he has his name! When I opened his cage, he was sitting in the back. His cage had just been cleaned and so I think that had made him a little unsure. So I started out with him slowly, working with chimp touches on his head, doing some ear strokes and doing some Noah's marches with the back of my hand down his body. As I worked on him, he came more and more forward in the cage, and finally flopped on his back. At that point, I went back to working on his head and he was VERY relaxed.

The cat below is named Chubby. There was a sign on his cage saying he was frightened and that he shouldn't be let out with the other cats. He turned out to be completely friendly, and in no time was pushing his head into my hand and asking for more attention. Perhaps he is afraid of other cats, not other people, as he is declawed. What a sweet boy!

The fellow below is named Jack White. He was waiting at the front of his cage for some attention. He pushed his head into my hand and I was able to do touches all over his head and body, and he really responded to that. Later on, I found out that this lovely boy as well as several others there were most likely going to be adopted soon, yay.

The little girl below named Isabel is at a point where I have seen a lot of other cats get who seem to want contact, but they are still unsure. She is very playful, and is confident enough to come close to you to reach what she thinks is a toy. She wants to engage in play if I put in a tool like a paintbrush or wand, but she still was a little frightened of being touched. So I played with her and touched her a little :)
After trying several different tools with her, I found that she was comfortable with me doing a few touches at a time with a soft makeup brush, as that provided some distance, but a nice soft surface. I look forward to working with her futher and with the other cats.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Some Lovely Adoption News

(Above: "Angel")
Hi folks, we do a LOT of adoptions at Social Tees, but when some of my special TTouch babies hwo have had more difficulty in one way or another get their forever homes, it is just such a sweet blessing, though of course I will miss them!

This past weekend, our little Angel, the black one-eyed kitty, got adopted, as well as Murray, who I first encountered when he was hiding and terrified behind a box in the window of the shelter, and Mr. Robinson (pictured below), who is a mush cat and so sweet, but it took him a while longer as he is a senior citizen and they take longer to get adopted. I send them SO much love and wish them the best in their new homes.

Speaking of adoption stuff, I have heard from Jimmy Girl and Luke's new mommy (who has sent pix as well) and they are doing so great, I am so happy for them.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

TTouch Training with Kathy Cascade: Kane

Kane and his lovely owner Zoie were another pair I worked with during Kathy Cascade's TTouch training. They have been in two previous TTouch trainings with me, and I have been glad to get to know Kane and Zoie over this time, and to see both Kane's and Zoie's progress in doing this work.

Kane is a young, strong, energetic dog and can really be challenging when he starts to pull on the leash as he is so strong. When Zoie and Kane arrived for the training, I held Kane on the leash for her while she was unpacking, and wow, I could feel how strong he was. I had to keep myself grounded in order to not have him take off with me flying in the air on the back of the leash :) and I was happy to work with Zoie and Kane with Kathy's direction in order to learn how to best work with Kane to keep everyone in balance.
Zoie and I started out by doing homing pigoen with Kane. I started out in the leading position, on the right hand side of Kane with two points of contact on his harness, and Zoie was on the other side of Kane in a neutral position, connected to his collar with another leash. Kane seemed to get faster and faster and more and more out of our control. After Kathy suggested walking in S-curves with Kane, instead of just straight forward, it felt like a miracle. Walking in s-curves with your dog forces the dog to think instead of just charging forward, and the constant changing of orientation that the s-curves provide make the dog continue to be conscious of its motion and pay attention to where it is being asked to go.
Now it felt like Zoie, Kane, and I became one unit, all being in balance and moving together, instead of Zoie and I chasing after Kane and feeling like he was pulling us on the leash. Everything just felt like it clicked into place and we were all right in synch in the moment, Below is Kane later that day, saying "OH YEAH!". Thank you Zoie, Kane and Kathy for teaching me so much with this experience.

TTouch Training with Kathy Cascade: Rebecca and Monsieur M.

Hi folks, the past week I have been in my last session of the TTouch training, so am now a full-fledged TTouch Practitioner, hooray! Kathy Cascade is a wonderful instructor, who I did a training with in Santa Fe last year, and I was so happy to do my last training with her. She is so straightforward, clear, focused and very thoughtful in the way that she teaches.

Monsieur M. is one of the wonderful dogs I worked with, and his owner's name is Rebecca. M9nsieur M is a young, very large dog, a Beauceron, and is extremely exuberantly energetic. When Rebecca walks with him on the leash, he can easily get into overdrive and start jumping up and nipping at her. We did a lot of work in the training to help get him more in balance and less apt to do this.

The first time I worked with Rebecca and Monsieur M, we did the homing pigeon. This is a technique in which one person is leading the dog using two points of contact from one side, and another person has a leash attached to one point of contact and is simply walking along neutrally on the other side. We start this out with the owner of the dog being on the leading side, and switch when the dog seems comfortable enough to do this. We started out at a pretty relaxed pace, but unfortunately Monsieur M became increasingly overstimulated and so started his jumping and nipping. We tried to see if he would calm down if we kept going along, but this didn't happen so we gave him a break at that point.

On the last day of the training, I had another opportunity to do homing pigeon with Rebecca and Monsieur M, and we were so pleasantly surprised at the outcome this time. When we started out, we felt him trying to charge ahead, so Kathy suggested that we walk in s-curves instead of walking in a straight line. This forces the dog (and people) to move and think in a different way, and had an immediate effect. The dog slowed down and we all three got in synch with each other.
After a while of doing this, we switched places and I was leading Monsieur M. I knew this would be a big step for the dog but tried to keep my energy even, like it was no big deal. The transition went pretty smoothly!
When we do this exercise, we don't keep constantly walking forward, we stop the dog and re-balance every bunch of feet or so. In my mind I was picturing how I always see Kathy working with dogs, and her energy is incredibly focused and calm. I consciously quieted my energy and my thoughts, and when I asked Monsieur M to stop, I did it in a low, almost-whisper, as his energy is so easily excited. Monsieur M. responded to this very positively and again, I felt that Rebecca, Monsieur M and I were all in synch as we walked and stopped. We walked Monsieur M through a labyrinth setup and he continued to stay focused and calm. Then Rebecca and I switched back again. Kathy said these were the smoothest transitions she had seen with Monsieur M, I felt that Rebecca also seemed calmer and more confident when we were working than I had sometimes seen her, and I'm sure this had an effect as well.
Thanks Rebecca, Monsieur M and Kathy Cascade - I really learned so much from this experience and look forward to hearing from Rebecca and Monsieur M as to how it's going with them. I've heard from Rebecca once since our training and it sounds like she is doing such a lovely job with him.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Tiffany is an extremely fearful Chihuahua mix (larger than a Chihuahua, and as you can see, her legs are quite long) who recently arrived at Social Tees shelter. She appears to have been abused by a man or men, as she is particularly fearful of and reactive to men. From what I have observed, she isn't reactive to other dogs, just will run away and hide from them if she is scared. I have worked with her several times for an extended period, very slowly, and never approaching her directly, letting her come to me as she is comfortable. Other times, if I am in a room working with another dog or she happens to come up to me, I say hello to her in a gentle, friendly voice and do not look at her directly. A few times, when I have been working on another dog, she has been hanging out near by, and she has been comfortable with me getting closer and closer to where she is while I am working on another dog, which usually ends up with a couple of other dogs hanging out near me as well, so this is a big step for her, having me and several dogs in close proximity to her and she feels safe enough not to walk away.
The first time I worked with her in a more concentrated way, she and I were alone out in the backyard of the shelter. She was standing in a corner, and I was pretty much at the opposite end of the yard from her. I began to speak to her very softly, telling her what a wonderful, sweet dog she is, and telling her that she was safe. I began to feel energy going from my hands to her body, and was picturing that contact sending warm light into her body. After a short time, I could see her start to breathe more fully. I was crouched on the floor, facing pretty much sideways. I was feeling from her that she had not been relaxed in a LONG time and that she was finally relaxing. She laid down and put her head down for a nap. I was continuing to feel Reiki flowing from my hands. I turned nearly with my back to her, kept speaking occasionally to her in a soft voice, and was able to slowly back towards where she was. I got within about a foot of her and just stayed there for a while. She appeared to still be comfortable, was still lying down, relaxing. One of the other wonderful volunteers, Estee, came out at that point and I signaled to her to move slowly and speak quietly, and she did, and the dog continued to be comfortable. This felt like a big step for Tiffany.
The second time I worked with her was a couple of days ago. There was only one other person with me in the shelter and so it was quieter than usual. Tiffany was following me around for a lot of the day. She is still very frightened and did not have her tail up but yet she seemed to want to be near me. I would say hi to her from time to time but didn't want to startle her and make her run away so I didn't say too much, just let her come around with me. At one point when I was done with what I had to do, I kneeled down sideways to her and began to speak to her. She came closer and closer and laid right down next to me. I kept picturing Reiki flowing from me to her, filling her with light. We stayed there for some time, she was very relaxed.
It is going to take this girl a long time to be ok around people, but fortunately I am working at a no-kill shelter, so we can work with her slowly and patiently.


Angel is a long-haired young black kitty who just returned to us from the vet. Many of our animals arrive at our shelter in need of veterinary care, and in Angel's case, the vet had to remove one eye. We still need to give her medication and make sure she's eating, especially as she was quite emaciated on arrival, so I have spent a lot of time with her doing these things as well as doing TTouch and Reiki on her.

Animals have so much to teach us about appreciating the moment and strength of spirit. I am always amazed at how loving and sweet so many of the shelter animals are even after they have gone through so much difficulty. Angel is one of those special animals, which is why we had to give her that name. Even when I am giving her medication, she seems to know that I am only trying to help her, and though I can tell she doesn't especially enjoy me giving her pills, she seems to know that she needs to let me do it. After I finish giving her medication, I feed her and then begin to do Reiki and TTouch on her.
When I first started working on her, I felt that there was a lot of heat coming from her back around midway down, so I put my hands on either side of her there, often with about an inch between my hands and her body, and could feel a strong current of energy moving back and forth between my hands and her body. In days after that, I still have held my hands there, but feel less heat there than initially.
She is very affectionate and often when I start to touch her, she makes a very cute meow that sounds kind of like a little lamb and she starts to rub her head against my hands. I am able to do TTouch anywhere on her body and she is very responsive to it. She is especially responsive to ear strokes, which stimulate the immune system and so are very good for her. She actually seems to like me to apply more pressure in the ear strokes than I would have expected would be comfortable for such a delicate cat. When I do these, she keeps rubbing her head against me, doing the little lamb meow and asks me to continue.
Doing TTouch often seems to stimulate the appetite, as I have found this to be the case with most of the cats I've worked with. This is especially great in the case of a cat who we need to encourage to eat more on their own. Often Angel will start eating while I am doing TTouch on her.
She is also eating more vigorously now, seems not as emaciated and has so much more life force coming from her. All of this has been helped along through medication, subcutaneous hydration (which my friend Jordyn, who is a master at this, has started doing for us at the shelter), food, water and lots of love. I often send Reiki to Angel when I am not at the shelter, and feel such a strong connection with her. I wish her well, and know that when the right day somes, there will be a very special person who will walk through the door and give sweet Angel a forever home.