Saturday, May 22, 2010

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.

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