Saturday, July 31, 2010

Charles and Leo: Continued Story of True Friendship

To me, some of the most meaningful moments that happen in the shelter are the special, pure moments of connection between animals, simple gestures which can be so meaningful and that can touch your heart and teach you so much.

Charles and Leo (Charles, left and Leo, right in the above pic) are inseparable buddies. Charles is a strong, young cat and Leo is a senior kitty who is very frail, yet with such a strong, sweet spirit. They are almost always right next to each other, and show such caring to each other.

Every day these boys wait at my feet for me to give them some wet food, which I do, and this is especially for Leo's benefit We leave out dry food for the cats who are loose in the shelter but Leo really can use the extra nutrition of the wet food.

Charles seems to know this, and, though he really enjoys wet food, he sits off to the side for quite a while, letting Leo eat for a long time before he will go to the food bowl and take any for himself. This is such a sweet, thoughtful gesture which really speaks volumes and touches my heart every time.

We have so much to learn from these creatures, if we would only slow ourselves down and pay attention.

Radio interview

Hi folks, no pix in this post, just a link. Yesterday I had the honor and pleasure (thanks to my friend Jordyn Thiessen, who, among her many activities and talents, also volunteers at the shelter) to be interviewed by Valerie Smaldone on a program about animals which featured also Warren Eckstein and a woman who is the "voice" of Mathilda, a resident cat at the Algonquin Hotel. Here is a link if you'd like to have a listen:

I had a chance to speak about the shelter where I work, as well as the TTouch work I do there.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Max and Lilah, Iguanas

Hi folks, I had another opportunity to do TTouch on Max and Lilah. Lilah is pictured above - again, she had a more extreme reaction than Max, and was REALLY leaning into my hand, almost verging on appearing to be over-stimulated. After I did the TTouches for a while, she was leaning into my hand but in a more gentle way, so it seemed like she was calming down. At the end of this clip, she started to walk towards me, so I decided to give her a break at that point. You also see her walk in the beginning of the clip, so I waited til she stopped to continue touching her.

Max is pictured below. He also leaned into my hand and you can see his eyes relaxing. Later on I tried a little Reiki on him as well and he seemed to respond to that as well, moving his body a little closer to where my hand was (my hand was four or five inches from his body. He also began to walk after I did TTouch for a bit so I gave him a break when he did that. Max in general seems to be a more low-key guy but both these animals appear to be quite accustomed to humans. As I mentioned in the previous post, Anthony, who works at the shelter and has had more experience with iguanas than I have, remarked at how chill and these guys were, as he had petted both of them and they responded well to that.

As you can see, I'm mostly doing circular touches using the back of my hand, and some Noah's March (plain strokes straight down the body) with the front or back of my hand. I hope to work with these creatures more, it is such an interesting experience.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Max and Lilah the Iguanas

Robert, the owner of Social Tees Animal Rescue shelter, is a wildlife rehabilitator in addition to an animal rescue person, and is a reptile expert. So we often have some very interesting inhabitants in addition to the cats and dogs. The reptiles are not adopted out to individuals, though - they go to reptile sanctuaries of various kinds.

Two of our recent arrivals are Max and Leon, who are both iguanas. Mas is pictured directly above and below, with sort of a mohawk look, and Leon has an extremely long tail. They both turned out to be quite friendly and quite receptive to TTouch.

Anthony, who helps keep things clean for the animals and does a multitude of tasks at the shelter, had petted both of these fellows and told me they were friendly. Still, I was a bit cautious because I am not too familiar with reptiles and their personalities and body language.

First I decided to touch Max. I did some connected clouded leopard touches down each side of his back, and he relaxed right into it. It was really a different experience from touching a furry creature - the skin feels like loose thick leather, and the mohawk-looking thing that goes down the center of his head and back was kind of bristly but flexible at the same time. I continued doing the touches, down one side of his back and then the other, and he seemed to be quite relaxed.

Then I decided to check out his friend Lilah. Lilah is really kind of a character - she dramatically leaned into my hand, whichever side it was on. Anthony had said she did this when he was petting her, but with the circular touches she seemed to have even a more extreme reaction. After doing the connected touches down one side and then another, she walked around a bit, then stopped and I tried doing the touches again.

I look forward to trying more with these guys and seeing what can happen! thanks boys for letting me have such an interesting experience.

Mayor's Alliance cats, update

I went again to work on the Mayor's Alliance cats thru Tavi & Friends' TTouch-in-Rescue Program. Today when I went, many of the cats were out of their cages so it was a different feeling working with them within a big space.

The cat above is Bradford. He is kind of a trouble maker and loves to pester the other cats. He also loves as much attention as possible, and will rub himself against you as you do TTouch on his head and body.

The kitty below is Blacky. He is an absolute sweetie, and really relaxed as I did TTouch on him, he laid down on his side next to his scratching post which you see here. He stretched out his back as I did connected touches down each side of his back and then Noah's marches down his back.

Below is Lenny. He is about 5 months old and extremely active, so he was only interested in a few circular touches and strokes here and there, and then wanted to go on about his business bounding around. He does like to be held like a little baby, unlike many cats, and I could do a few TTouches on him while I held him this way before he became itchy to move again.

Zorro (pictured below, you can see his mask!) craves attention and rubbed himself against my hand as I did circular chimp touches all around his head and then circles and strokes down his body. Sometimes he can get a bit overstimulated and give very light love bites but mostly he is just enthusiatic about getting touched :)

After I did TTouch on him for a while he did get into a more relaxed mode and plopped down as you see him here.
Reed is also quite a character, you see him below. He was having a great time playing with Lenny and so I did TTouches on him in short bursts, which he really responded to, but as these cats were having the opportunity to run wild being out of their cage, the short bursts were best for him in this environment.
Many of the cats which I had worked on previously in this location had been adopted or are in foster homes, which is terrific!

Reiki and TTouch with Tammy

Dear mama Tammy, she has been thru a journey! her paperwork from the city shelter says she is 10, but it is unclear what her real age is. Shortly after she arrived at the shelter, one day we discovered that during the night she had three babies! some wonderful folks fostered her and her kittens, then her kittens were adopted out, and for a while she was acting as mommy to another kitten. She is back at the shelter now and I have started to work with her, as she is pretty temperamental about getting touched - most often you can only touch her on the head, and even then, just for a short time because she gets overstimulated.

sorry for the blurry pictures here. once I get the camera out, she keeps moving! but in a way the blurry pictures give a better feeling of the dreamlike sensation that can happen when I'm working with these animals.

So with Tammy I've been doing a combination of TTouch and Reiki. If she is receptive to it, I will start by doing some raccoon touches on her forehead, while I am sending her Reiki with the other hand. If she seems too overstimulated to touch at all then I hold my hands in the offering position and imagine energy going from my hands to her body, and sometimes I really feel like I can even see the energy, I feel it that strongly. Once I start this, I generally see her either start to relax or, today she went to her food bowl and started eating, which seems to happen because she feels more relaxed and comfortable.

Somtimes when I start to send Reiki to Tammy, she will come and sniff my hands.

I had to take a break and do something else for a few minutes after she had started eating. When I came back and began Reiki with her again, she went up on the shelf in her cage, laid down and looked so relaxed, it was a pleasure to see. I could really feel a strong energy between me and her.

Thank you Tammy, I look forward to working with you more and even more forward to seeing you off to a forever home sometime soon.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Update on Shy Kitten Bobbi

I have been continuing to work with kittens Bobbi and Joie at Social Tees shelter. They are still a little frightened but are really coming along. Bobbi is a little more timid than Joie. You can see when I start to work on her here, her back is a bit hunched up. It begins to relax as I work on her, and she starts to stretch out and relax. I start out doing TTouch on her head and then work my way down her body. In the second video clip, you will see me doing what I have showed before, where I very gently press the skin, working my way down one side of the back and then the other, to give the kitten more awareness of its whole spine. Bobbi used to meow as though she was really scared when I picked her up to take her out of her cage, and now she is still a bit scared to be picked up but I feel her body in a much less tense position even to start with. In the videos you will hear further explanation of the touches etc. It is very strange to be working on these two cuties, their markings are very similar to my cat Garbanzo, but they are female and little kittens, whereas he is a big adult boy.

I look forward to working with these kittens further and am really pleased to see them more relaxed. They are more at ease with the other kittens who are in the cage with them too, and I see them snuggling with other kittens as well as each other (they are in a cage with two other kittens, who are both from different litters than Bobbi and Joie.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tail TTouch with Joie

Joie is one of two sweet, shy tabby kittens I have been working on lately at Social Tees shelter. They have been coming out of their shells lately and becoming more relaxed after a couple of weeks of TTouch and Reiki.

They had initially appeared as though they were limping. I did some TTouch and Reiki on them and it seemed as though the limping may have been related to their stitches possibly being tight after their spay surgery or perhaps it just was a frightened body posture, because when the vet checked them out, they did not appear to be limping and she thought they were ok. As always, please keep in mind that the work I do is not a substitute for veterinary work. It is nice to make an animal feel more at ease though!

I am finding that they still are tense at the base of their spines and in their tail, so i have been doing some tail work on them, which I show in these videos. Please keep in mind that I am using extremely light pressure, just enough to push the skin around in a circle. And when I am circling the tail, I am doing very small circles and am not pulling the tail out, I am just gently moving it in the smallest circle I can, working my way down the tail. I also do some conected raccoon touches down the tail. Little Joie is purring by the end!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

TTouch with the Ferals

In Socal Tees shelter there is a group of so-called "feral" cats, though some of them have become quite friendly, especially as I have started giving a few of them wet food and doing TTouch on them. As there are usually dogs loose in the shelter, one of the places the cats love to hang out is on top of the cages, where there are also large pipes that they can drape themselves over, and they can watch all the activity. Above you will see me doing a bit of TTouch with a feather on one of the very shy guys (the bw kitty). I have tried touching him on the head with my hand a few times but he is afraid of this so this is the first time I tried a feather with him. He's still pretty hesitant but starts to get more comfortable with strokes on his face. After a few strokes on his body, he had enough. You can see Leo and Charles, two sweet kitties who are best friends and who are also friendly with me, watching. It is good to keep initial sessions with a frightened cat very short, so I left him alone after that, and will try again with him soon.

Below I am doing some TTouch on a very shy grey cat. He is fine with me touching him as long as he is facing away from me. I had tried touching him a few times when he was facing me and he was frightened of me doing that. So this is the first time I was able to touch him for any length of time, and I think he is surprised somehow when he turns around to find me there!

Here I am below doing TTouch on my pal Leo, who is so sweet. I do a lot of TTouch on him using the back of my hand, as he is an older, very thin, very sensitive cat. At the end, you don't see this, but he bumps his nose against my nose, something he has started doing with me every day :)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bobbi and Joie, update

A few days ago we had noticed that two little tabby kittens we have at Social Tees shelter were limping a bit. I did extensive sessions of TTouch and Reiki on both kittens, being sure to do any touch very gently until they were able to be evaluated by a vet. I touched them everywhere including their back, legs, tail, and though I noticed some tightness near the base of the tail, neither kitten acted as though any touch hurt her.

Meanwhile, after the first session both kittens began to walk much more easily, standing taller on all their legs and using their back legs more fully than they had before. By the time they were seen by one of our vets, the vet thought they seemed ok. It may be that the stitches had been tight after their spay surgery before they came to out shelter (our animals come to us thru the city shelters where they are spayed or neutered if they are old enough to be). Or that they were just shy, who knows?

The kittens still run from me initially sometimes but once I pick them up, they immediately settle in my lap and are extremely relaxed, as you can see from the pictures of Bobbi below. I do raccoon touches around their head and mouth, ear strokes. connected touches down their back, clouded leopard touches down their legs, little raccoon touches on their paws and between their toes. They are quite relaxed even having their paws touched. Next time I will try clipping their claws, and see if I can keep them relaxed while I am doing that :)

I could really see Bobbi stretching her back out as I did touches down each side of her spine. It was a pleasure to see this!

Once again I have to stress that the modalities I use are not a substitute for veterinary care. But it is lovely to be able to offer them a gentle form of healing that can help them feel better physically and emotionally.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Milton Goes for a Walk

Hi folks, I had the unusual and delightful experience of taking a savannah monitor lizard for a walk the other day! You see me with him above, I did some TTouch on him as well. I did some connected abalone touches down his back and could feel his back stretch out as I did it.

At the shelter where I volunteer, Social Tees Animal Rescue, Robert Shapiro, the shelter owner, is a wildlife rehabilitator as well as animal rescuer, so we have some interesting reptiles and other animals come thru our shelter. Robert rehabilitates them and then they go to reptile sanctuaries etc.

At any rate, Milton is about the size of a large cat (but, of course, a VERY different shape and texture!). I looped a leash around his neck (next time I will bring rope w/me and do a custom harness). and walked him a bit outside the shop. People (and dogs) were very curious as they walked by, of course! Milton seemed very curious about them as well. We walked a bit, I did TTouch on him a bit, walked a bit more, and so on. We didn't get too far as people kept stopping us and asking questions about what kind of animal he was, etc.

New York City is an incredibly bustling place, which Milton is not too used to, so after a while I felt he was getting nervous from all the attention so I brought him back inside. Robert told me I should carry him like a baby, supporting his hind end with one hand, and then with his head looking over my shoulder.

Doing TTouch on him is an unusual experience because his skin is very thick and tough, so I felt that big abalone touches were what made the most sense. I didn't use a LOT of pressure, just enough to move the skin in a circle.

I look forward to more walks with this guy! he was quite a good sport with what must have been a very unusual experience for him.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Chakra Healing, TTouch and Reiki with Joie, Bobbi and Leo

Hi folks, first of all I want to reiterate that I am not a vet, and that the work I do is not a replacement for veterinary treatment, but can be helpful in conjunction with it. That being said, I'd love to share the following:

Recently we got in two kittens who appear to be limping a bit. Of course we will have them evaluated by a vet soon, but in the meantime, I wanted to offer them some gentle healing and touch. I took the kittens out one by one very gently and did pretty much the same procedure with each one, so I will just continue describing as though I'm working on one of them. She is quite shy and so it took a minute to calm her. I contained her in a towel initially, doing some gentle ear strokes and a bit of gentle TTouch using a very light touch. I did not find any place on her body (includng down his back and back legs) where she flinched or pulled away or appeared to be in pain when I touched her.

She had calmed down so I then opened up the towel. Then I placed my fingers on the two chakras which are in the shoulder area. I could feel quite a bit of heat there, and once I put my fingers there I could feel the energy opening up and going down her body. she really relaxed and stretched out, purring.

As I did this, our sweet elder kitty Leo came near where we were and looked right at me. For a while he hung out under the stool I was sitting on and then he came around and looked at me again. I only had one hand on the kitten as you see here, and so with my other hand I placed it in the offering position and began to feel Reiki flowing to him. He stayed right there for quite a while, until I felt it was enough, and then he went on about his day. He often hangs around when I am working on the other animals, and, of course, I make time for him too!

But back to the kitten. I continued to feel energy flowing from the chakras down the body and the kitten totally relaxed and stretched out. When it seemed that it was enough time, I told the kitten I was going to move her back to her cage, wrapped her up in the towel again and placed her back in his cage. She seemed a bit scared at first, but I did see her stand straight up on her legs, then she scurried a bit, and then in a minute went over to her food dish and began to eat. I was glad to see this as well, as we always want to make sure these little ones are eating!

I look forward to working with these little girls more and am curious to see what will happen when they are looked at by a vet as well. maybe there's a possibility they are still recovering from spay surgery or that their bodies were stiff from sitting in a scared crouching position? we'll see.
ps. I'm actually posting this two days after it happened, and yesterday (the day after this work), I only could stop by the shelter briefly, but when I checked on the kittens, it truly appeared that they were standing up taller on their legs and that they were walking with more ease.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Mayor's Alliance Cats, update

I went again to work on the Mayor's Alliance cats thru Tavi & Friends' TTouch-in-Rescue Program. There were some new faces and I had a wonderful adventure with one of the cats I have been working on for some time.

First, I'll talk about some of the old and new cats. Below is Marty. He is still a hesitant guy, he comes right to the front as though he wants contact but when I open the cage he goes to the back as though he is afraid of it. He can swat a bit when he is not in the mood, so I did a couple of short sessions on him, just touching his head and a few touches on his body with the back of my hand. I tried touching him with a feather but he batted it away. I tried to see if I could play with him with one feather and touch him with another but that seemed to irritate him, so I gave him a break and then came back to do some minimal touches with my hand.

Next is the fellow below named Jack Black. He is extremely friendly and couldn't wait for me to open his cage to give him some TTouch. I did TTouch on his head and strokes down his body. He is quite a relaxed, comfortable guy to begin with and really responded to all types of touch that I tried with him.

Below is Zoe - she is a very particular girl and can get over-stimulated easily, so I simply did TTouches on her head and when I saw her tail start to switch, I gave her a break. I did this a couple of times with her. I am hoping that over time, we can work in longer and longer sessions with her.

Below is Daddy, he is a gentle, sweet guy and was watching while I did TTouch on some of the others, poking his nose thru the hole in his cage to see when I would come to him. He was very receptive to ear strokes, connected touches down his body, etc. what a sweet soul this guy has.

I also did TTouch on Samantha, the little black kitty with the white tip on her tail. She just gets more and more friendly and interactive with every visit, and I went back to her a couple of times as she kept waiting for me at the front of the cage.

Now for the great news of the day - and this had to do with Isabel, the gorteous tortoiseshell cat pictured below (in the first pic she is on the top level, trying to play with Samantha below).

Up until today, I had only been able to do minimal touch on her with my hand, always through the holes in her cage. Something different and unexpected happened today though.

Today I began with her, starting out using two long-handled brushes that are probably used for basting, one I used to get her attention a bit and then the other I used to begin to do circles and strokes on her body. This is the same type of brush I used with Louie in the shelter, but this time I used two brushes instead of one, and that was the approach which helped me to break through with Isabel.

Isabel would touch one brush with her paw and then I would do circles and strokes on her body with the brush. she was a bit hesitant at first but then really settled into it. I worked my way up to strokes on her head, and then with my other hand, worked my way up the handle of the brush til I was touching her with my hand. I was able to do abalone touches and strokes on her body and she REALLY settled into it, I think she was purring. I think she surprised herself :) it really was lovely. I could see her whole body seem as though it was breathing a huge SIGH and her body really spread out. This was the first time I have truly seen her RELAXED. after working with her for quite a while, I gave her a break.

After working on a few other cats, I went back to her again. She was looking right at me and wondering what was going to happen. It was too much to come in there with the hand right at first so I started out with the brush again and then went right to the hand and was doing ear strokes and raccoon touches on her forehead. hooray! You see her below with the sweet, inquisitive look that she can have. I look forward SO much to working with her again and thank her so much for trusting me enough to let us both have this lovely experience.

Monday, July 5, 2010

TTouch on Kittens in the Shelter

I have been working on the many kittens we have now in Social Tees shelter, some of whom come in very frightened as they are either semi-feral or feral. I have found that wrapping them in a small piece of towel is a good way to contain them as I hold them in my lap, and I keep them wrapped if they are scared and wriggly. I also keep them slightly contained if there are dogs who are loose in the shelter who could startle them. I do TTouch on top of the towel or under the towel, and if the kitten is comfortable as I go, I often loosen the towel or unfold it. The kitten above is one of a litter who were born outside but they have been really coming around.

The cat below is Charles, one of our resident so-called "feral cats" who are loose in the shelter (he is quite friendly now), and he always hangs around near me when I am there. Doing TTouch on one animal usually makes the other animals who are nearby either start eating or go to sleep. Yesterday I was at the shelter when it was not open so it was just the animals and me in the back room in these videos. the whole atmosphere grew very calm after a while.

The kitten below is the brother of the one at the top, he is the most outgoing of the bunch, and begins purring as soon as I open the cage.

Here is Charles again, hanging out and very relaxed in the TTouch atmosphere. This is when the shelter can feel especially magical.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Louie - parts 3 and 4

Here are the third and fourth parts of my session with Louie. As I said in my previous post, it took trying several tools to see what he was receptive to, but this brush on a thick long stick seemed to do the trick! I was so glad to see him getting more and more comfortable, and look forward to working with him further.

Louie - Parts 1 and 2

Hi folks, I taped my session with Louie, and had to break it up into parts so the files will work properly on the blog, so two clips will be in this post and two in the next post.

Louie is a young male cat who recently came into the shelter. He can get overly stimulated easily and swat very hard with his claws out as a result. I have been trying different tools with him over a few sessions. First I tried the wand and corn dog, which just made him irritated. Then I tried a long feather with him. This worked well in one session, then in the next session, it simply made him pissed off and he wanted to destroy it.

Finally the day before yesterday I tried the tool you see here, probably originally used for basting. It is a long stick with a flat paintbrush at the end. You will see when I first open the cage he is a bit unsure, but then he grows increasingly comfortable.

He has really responded to this tool, and is comfortable with me doing circles and strokes on his head, ears, and even down his front legs. I love this cat, he has a sense of humor and is a real character! and I want to do whatever I can to make him a more comfortable cat (which will also make him more adoptable, which would be the best!).