by Sue White
The Khulisa Project is a Diversional program for teenage first-time offenders.
The teenagers are sent on the program rather than being sent to jail.
Community Led Animal Welfare (CLAW) has become involved in Khulisa and in May this year started running Saturday morning sessions with these youngsters. The sessions are held at their clinic, which is on the Durban Deep Mines property.
So what has this got to do with TTouch? Well, Cora Bailey of CLAW asked me if I would like to run sessions in which the children “train” some of the many dogs CLAW has in the clinic. The objective was for the children to have the benefit of interacting with dogs and for the dogs to learn to walk on a lead, sit to command, etc, and as a result hopefully become more adoptable.
I called in the help of Phyllis Dannhauser another TTouch practitioner and so far we have run three wonderful sessions with these youngsters. On our first session we were met with a few children dragging unwilling, unhappy dogs about on the ends of leads. This was not a pretty sight! Neither the children nor the dogs had the skills to cope with collars and leads.
My focus has been to explore the very important area of the senses in general and touch in particular. We know that so many people have been inappropriately touched and may have real issues about touch. So I planned very interactive, fun workshops about touch and slowly introduced one or two touches per session. We also taught the children how to safely approach a dog, how to look for calming signals, and looked at the “fright, flight, freeze, fool around response” and how to respect the animal and it’s response.
By Session 3 we felt the children had enough skills to start working safely and respectfully with the dogs. They all (dogs and children) had such a good time! Armed with fistfuls of my homemade liver cake the children had dogs trotting about on the ends of leads. Those with frozen dogs were doing “leash stroking” of which Robyn Hood would have been very proud ! We had dogs “sitting” and even some dogs doing Figure 8’s between children’s legs!
It was wonderful to see the dogs and the children having fun and growing in confidence. We have more sessions planned and I will let you know how it goes.
Finally, there is one young girl in the group who is really scared of dogs. So I pared her up with my own cheerful little Corgi-cross, Aggie. Aggie is the kindest little dog and tries so hard to please. Well Aggie wove her magic and soon the two were trotting happily backwards and forwards. Aggie worked hard, was exhausted and slept soundly on the way home. What a good day!
TTouch Practitioner Level 1