Saturday, May 7, 2011

TTouch and Reiki with Greta

A few weeks ago, my friend Alissa adopted a lovely little dog, who she named Greta. Once Greta feels comfortable with you, she is a very sweet, loving dog. However, she is an extremely shy dog and is very scared of people she doesn't know, which can be extra-hard when she is being walked on the street, as everyone wants to come up and pet her (as you can see, she is adorable!), but that is a scary thing for her. She is also frightened of sudden sounds or movements, and has separation anxiety.

I offered to get together with Alissa to show her some of the TTouches, and show her how to put on and fit a Thundershirt (a wonderful, calming fitted dog shirt which we often use in TTouch, and is so helpful for a variety of anxiety-related issues).

I wasn't sure if I would be able to touch Greta directly, so I brought with me a stuffed dog, so I could show Alissa the TTouches on the stuffed dog, if necessary. When I entered Alissa's apartment, I made sure not to stare at Greta, and to act rather casually, pretty much ignoring her at first. To introduce myself to Greta in a non-threatening manner, we started out with something called the "chair technique", which was taught to us in the TTouch training by instructor Kathy Cascade. I sat with a very neutral attitude in a chair with treats. Alissa walked the dog towards me, stopping a few feet away, and I threw the dog a treat. She then immediately walked the dog back away a few feet. Starting this way gives the dog a choice about approaching you, and lets them know they can retreat as well.

It was clear after doing this a few times that Greta was already comfortable with me, and wanted already to approach me to get the especially tasty sausage treat. I began to talk to Greta in a quiet, friendly voice. I began to do a few TTouches with her using the back of my hand, then gave the dog a break and spoke to Alissa about the touches a bit, demonstrating some of them on the stuffed dog I had brough with me.

Then I tried some more TTouches on Greta. I found that the abalone TTouch (circular TTouch using my whole hand) was especially soothing to Greta, and she began to lay on her side and stretch out. I also showed Alissa how to properly fit a Thundershirt on Greta. These shirts are made of stretchy material, using a number of velcro strips to secure the shirt, and it is constructed so that you basically wrap the shirt around the dog, instead of having to put the dog's head through a hole in the shirt or put legs through, so even the putting on of the shirt is not as stressful as most dog clothing. It has several places in which it is attached, so that it can be custom-fitted to the body of the dog. It is supposed to fit close to the body but not tight, so that the feeling is like being in swaddling clothes, or getting a gentle hug. As I have seen with other dogs, the shirt was immediately calming to Greta -- it was as though I felt the whole energy of the room become more quiet.

Then I started to do some TTouches on her with the shirt on, and she began to stretch out and really relax. I continued to show Alissa more of the TTouches on Greta, who grew progressively more relaxed, and had Alissa try the TTouches on Greta as well. I was even able to do TTouches on her paws, in between the pads, etc. In the midst of the session, I did some Reiki with Greta as well, especially around the heart and solar plexus chakras.

Alissa picked up the TTouches really fast, and I could tell she would be able to do them on Greta on her own with no problem. Another lovely thing that happens with TTouch is that the person doing the TTouch becomes relaxed as well as the animal (or person!) who is being TTouched :)

I also showed Alissa how to do a simple TTouch half-wrap on Greta (this serves a similar function to the Thundershirt), as an alternative way of relaxing the dog. Neither the wrap or the Thundershirt should be left on indefinitely, as the purpose is to give the dog a different feeling. And an animal should always be supervised when it has a wrap on, so that it doesn't try to take it off and get tangled up in it.

It was beautiful to see how relaxed Greta was, especially after Alissa told me how very stressed Greta was when she first arrived at Alissa's apartment, being on such high alert that it was even hard for her to relax enough to eat. Alissa has already come a long way with Greta (she is also working w/a trainer), and I know the TTouches will help to add another dimension of confidence and relaxation.

I am writing this blog post a bit belatedly, but am happy to report that in the meantime I received a lovely note from Alissa, thanking me for my help and letting me know that Greta is becoming more confident every day. Thanks so much Alissa and Greta, for giving the the opportunity to share this work with you, I know it will be of benefit to you both :)

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