From the 3 July 2009 issue of Vrouekeur by Alita Vorster
NOTE: This interview happened with Linda Tellington Jones while she was in South Africa in April. For the Afrikaans version, firstname.lastname@example.org
Animals react to these touches
A morning in the company of Linda Tellington-Jones is a very special experience. Linda lives on the island of Hawaii, but her involvement with the TTouch technique and its worldwide promotion, sees to it that she spends only short periods of the year on this lovely island. Linda travels all over the world to present workshops even here in South Africa. Regular people like zookeepers, veterinary assistants, the vets themselves and animal conservationists learn this technique from her. She is a remarkable woman who looks years younger than her real age. Linda is lively and energetic but most of all passionate in the way she speaks about this technique.
“I have always been surrounded by animals. My parents and grandparents were mad about animals. Of the earliest pictures taken of me with animals is one where I am standing next to my aunt, I was a mere 11 months old. In the picture she sits with a bear cub on her lap and I am standing next to her with my fingers curled exactly the same as one of the TTouch techniques we use today.
In 1903 my grandfather was a jockey in St Petersburg. There was also a group of Russian gypsies helping with the race horses, they showed my grandfather a kind of massage on the horses. It consisted of short strokes all over the horse’s body. He also tried it on the horses and brought it back to the States where he taught me how to do it.
In 1965 my first husband, Wentworth Tellington, and I together wrote the first book on massage for horses in the USA Massage and Physical Therapy for the Athletic Horse. We had a Thoroughbred stud at the time. “
Linda later became interested in the study by an Israeli doctor, Moshe Feldenkrais. Dr Feldenkrais focused on a way to activate the neural pathways in the human brain. Dr Feldenkrais found that by moving the body in different ways one can activate the neural pathways and so use more brain cells. Linda realized that if this is true for humans, it will also be true for animals. This brought her to the idea to make small movements on an animal’s skin. In 1982 she worked with a severely traumatized horse. Intuitively she made small circles on the body of the horse, and the horse calmed down immediately.
“Although I focus on animals, the human brain is my main interest. I believe animals are here to be our teachers. When one works with animals, one learns understanding, patience, love and kindness, and to treat people the same way.
With these small circles on the body of the animal we make it good for them to be touched by us. They loose their fear and want to be near us. This helps the animal to learn new ways.
When an animal or human experience fear or tension or when the body is under pressure because of injury or illness the communication between the cells are disrupted. TTouch restore this communication. Actually it is a language without any words. “
Linda considers herself particularly blessed. It is her privilege to make a difference in the lives of so many animals through this technique. She has wonderful stories to tell, like the one of the Oakland zookeeper who is a qualified TTouch practioner. Treating giraffes used to be a scary and dangerous affair. After introducing the Tellington Touch they now come to the keepers in their own free will and without any fear.
Linda also treated two very ill snow tigers in a zoo in Zurich with her special touch. Their lung disease improved immediately. Years later she saw pictures where the tigers lean against the wire fence for the keepers to touch them.
“I believe one should treat animals the way you want to be treated yourself. I don’t want to be controlled by dominance, why would an animal want to be treated that way? People must appreciate animals and be thankful for the difference they make in your life. And if you live with gratefulness it makes the most wonderful difference in your life and in the lives of other you are in contact with. “
What is TTouch™?
TTouch, or the Tellington Touch is a method which consists of circles of the fingers and hands all over the body of an animal. It is a combination of specific touches, exercises and body wraps. There are also certain lifts. The purpose is to activate the functioning of the cells in the body and thus awaken cellular intelligence. I other words it is like switching on the electricity in the body. Each circle is a complete on its own and is applied all over the body. A person does not have to be an expert or have comprehensive knowledge of the anatomy of the body to be successful with this technique. This touch is very successful in treating injuries or illness or where undesired behaviour or bad habits must be unlearned. At the same time it gives the animal more self confidence and eradicates the fear that makes some animals out of control or hard to control.
This method works on the basis of respect for the animal and is therefore quite different from other animal handlers who make use of dominance to get the animal to be submissive. This calm and quiet method is used by owners, trainers, breeders, veterinarians, zookeepers and keepers at animal shelters. There several qualified TTouch therapists from all over the globe, including South Africa. They can teach anybody how to help a dog, cat or any other pet.
What is Tellington TTouch used for?
Dogs with the following problems:
- Excessive barking and chewing
- Dogs pulling on the leash
- Dogs jumping up on people
- Dogs refusing brushing and grooming
- Extreme fear, shyness and fear of loud noises like thunder
- Problems like arthritis and hip dysplasia in older dogs
- Speeding up the healing of wounds or injuries
For cat owners:
Linda says cats become very shy when there are strangers in the house. Other cats, which are not shy, refuse to lie in your lap and most cat owners love a cat curled up in the lap. To help with his you can sit on the floor or on a chair with the cat between your legs. Do soft small circles on the ears, head and shoulders for a few minutes and then let the cat go. With cats less is more! Soon the cat will change his attitude and not run away at the sight of a stranger and probably make himself comfortable in your lap. TTouch also helps with the following:
- Cats who use the furniture as a scratch pole
- Cats with a fear of the vet
- Cats who hate to be brushed and groomed
- Cats who urinate in the house or mark the house
The clouded leopard touch:
There are many different touches and most of them consist of a clockwise circle. The clouded leopard is the very first technique taught because it is the basic technique of all the Tellington touches.
- Hold the hand in a slight curve with the fingers lightly together
- Rest your hand on the body of the animal
- Place your other hand on the animal for support and make the circle with your first hand
- he first digit of your fingers must be at a 45º angle to the part of the body you are touching
- 5. Think of a clock face.
- 6. Make a clock wise movement with your fingers, a circle and a quarter
- 7. Hold your thumb a few centimetres away from your fingers against the body for support. Start at six on the clock, move clockwise by pushing and pulling the skin to complete the circle. Stop at nine o’ clock.
- 8. Do only one circle at a spot and move on.
- 9. End the session with one long stroke to integrate the different circles
Linda wrote several books on this topic including several on Tellington Touch for horses and for humans. Two of the most popular are:
Getting in TTouch with your Dog: a gentle approach to influencing behaviour, health and performance Linda Tellington-Jones, Trafalgar Square Books
Getting in TTouch with your Cat: a gentle approach to influencing behaviour, health and performance Linda Tellington-Jones, Trafalgar Square Books
NB: Remember! TTouch does not replace veterinary care. It can be used in conjunction with conventional care and medication