by Pat Sonnenschein
I am one of those people who absorbs through an osmotic process, the enthusiasms of my family and friends. A dear friend has recently qualified as a TTEAM (TTouch Equine Awareness Method) practitioner and here am I, as keen as mustard, to absorb what I can about TTouch.
The TTouch method of relating to animals and their needs was originated by an amazing lady called Linda Tellington Jones. She was brought up with horses and dogs on a family ranch in Canada, and obviously had a more than usual rapport with animals. Much further on in her story, she attended a four-year training by Dr Moshe Feldenkrais, a Israeli Physicist who cured himself of paralysis with bodywork. She realised that by causing an animal to do non-habitual movements (try intertwining your fingers with the left thumb on top, instead of the right), this would cause a different area of the brain to come into play.
She was working with a friend’s mare one day, trying to figure out why the mare hated to be groomed. Linda discovered that by moving the skin in a circular movement with light but firm clockwise “touches”, the mare became tolerant of this contact and actually showed that she was enjoying it. Since this time, science has come through with the realisation that this movement releases tension in nerves, and that the neural pathways are freed of blockages, and therefore a sense of relaxation results.
The various contacts with weird and wonderful animals; snakes, llamas, leopards etc. etc. helped Linda to develop the different touches. To quote Linda “The TTouches build confidence, instil obedience, and develop an animal’s ability and willingness to learn. It takes animals beyond instinct, teaching them to think instead of react. It is a system based on gentle circular movements, lifts, and slides done over every inch of an animal’s (or human’s) body. The intent of the TTouches is to activate the function of cells and to awaken cellular intelligence. You can liken it to “turning on the electric lights of the body”. A Ttouch is done on the whole body, and each circular Ttouch is complete within itself. Therefore, it is not necessary to understand anatomy in order to successfully speed up the healing of injuries or ailments or change undesirable habits or behaviour.”
Touches are not all. There are Groundwork exercises, for balance and self confidence; Leg circles to mobilise stiff joints; lifts of legs and belly; mouth work; ear work; tail work; various long touches. Then there is the body wrap, the Halti and balancing leash, the wand. The list goes on and on!
It is a well-known fact that there are many acupuncture points in the tip of an animal’s ear. This knowledge is used in TTouch. By gently rubbing the tip of a dog’s ear in a tiny circular movement, you can reduce shock in a traumatic situation. By gently pulling the ear in upward stripes, you can calm a dog in stressful situations. I can vouch for that! When Nanny arrived in my household at the age of six, having been in a very loving home, she was very distressed. For three days I gently worked on her with my limited knowledge of TTouch, and in such a short time, she bonded with me beautifully.
The Body Wrap is a very soft, elastic bandage, which is wrapped around the dog in a special way. It gives the dog a sense of his own body, gives him confidence and is really good for dogs afraid of loud noises, such as thunder and fireworks. Also good for travel sickness and fear barking. Nanny is a great vocalist when visitors call. Peggy Pinnell was amazed one day when she saw Nanny in her body wrap and no barking! It is not entirely foolproof – there was Gaby at the Championship Show, wrapped up in her bandage, barking her little head off! There have to be exceptions to the rule!
There are so many applications for problems that dogs and their owners suffer from. Anyone interested in pursuing this further can make contact with Eugenie Chopin, the co-ordinator of Tellington Touch in South Africa at 011-884-3156011-884-3156011-884-3156011-884-3156 or firstname.lastname@example.org or www.ttouchsa.co.za . I’m sure that, like me, you will be amazed how close it brings you to your dog. My only regret, after taking my puppy on a two-day course, was that I hadn’t had this knowledge years ago!