by Myrtle Ryan – The Daily News
Keiko the Orca, of Free Willy fame, used to be nervous of strangers – until American animal expert Linda Tellington-Jones was called in to do her magic. Using her hands and her famous T-Touch technique, Tellington-Jones helped the world’s most well known whale overcome his problem.
Now owners of problem pets in South Africa are tapping into this same technique. While there is only one certified practitioner of T-Touch in all of Africa, Eugenie Chopin in Johannesburg, 28 South Africans are undergoing companion animal training – the first such practitioner programme in a Third World country. Among them are 3 people from Pietermaritzburg: Doreen Stapelberg, Jennifer Scarr and her son Shaun, and Carol Anne Brantingham of Durban.
Brantingham, who does remedial massage on humans, studied T-Touch to help her dog overcome its stiffness, so it could walk properly again.
Then she found that movements which cool down “hot areas” in animals do exactly the same for humans.
Scarr uses T-Touch to complement her skills in reflexology, massage therapy, aura soma, reiki and homeopathy.
Shaun sees it as a way to enhance his skills when he eventually qualifies as a vet, while Stapelberg, a breeder of Boston Terriers, feels it’s a kind and gentle answer to nearly every animal problem.
When Lifestyle visited Stapelberg’s home, she was putting Dusky, an Australian cattle dog, through her paces.
Dusky has a common problem, tugging on her lead and jumping up on people, and her owner asked Stapelberg to try and temper this over-exuberance.
One of T-Touch’s main tool is a long “wand” which is used to stroke any animal, be it dog, cat or horse.
It soothes, directs and calms. We were particularly fascinated in the touch manoeuvres. First a “body wrap”, an elastic bandage was placed on terrier Chiquita. “This gives a feeling of comfort and security,” said Stapelberg. “It’s particularly effective with animals with a fear of thunder, and those who suffer from car sickness.”
Next “ear slides”, a gentle sliding of the fingers down the ears, followed by tiny circles at the base of the ears. “It’s almost like reflexology in a human,” she said. “ The triple heater meridian lies at the base of the ear and it affects respiration, digestion and reproduction.”
A host of little movements across the body and Chiquita was positively squirming with pleasure, before becoming so relaxed, she seemed almost in doggy nirvana. “We are communicating with the dog’s nervous system, not its muscular system,” said Stapelberg.
Each movement has a different name. The Raccoon emulates the tiny scrabbling movements of that animal. “ This is very good after an operation as it helps prevent swelling” The Clouded Leopard – because it’s as soft as a cloud – and a leopard can walk softly or firmly. The Tiger is good for itches. “Tarantulas Pulling the Plough” helped a dog suffering from partial paralysis after a car accident to walk again. Gentle touching of the gums and inside if the mouth also soothe. There are many different touches and it can also be used on birds. Stapelberg’s most unusual customer was an Emu. “ With birds you take two of their own feathers which have fallen out and gently touch the bird in small circles around the body.
“T-Touch opens new neurological pathways, giving the animal achance of learning different behaviour patterns.
“T-Touch changes the person doing it, as well as the animal. It’s therapeutic to both and gives a quietness, a wonderful sense of helping.”
Meanwhile, Chopin says, “If you have an animals whose behaviour or temperament needs improving, are caring for an animal in pain or want injuries and surgery to heal more quickly, then you are a candidate to learn T-Touch”
It can help dogs with a fear of loud noises and thunder, shyness, excessive barking, chewing, jumping up, leash pulling, arthritis, dysplasia, biting, aggressive behaviour, car sickness, nervousness, tension, stress, hyper excitability.
There is also T-TEAM, a form of training between horse and rider. It’s been successful for sore backs, stiffness, bucking, rearing, biting and kicking.
This special touch is a healing balm
Tellington Touch (T-Touch) is a series of small randomly placed circles “drawn” on an animal, awakening the function of cells, activating neural impulses and bringing a new awareness to the body.
All animals (including humans) says Tellington-Jones, hold fear and tension in their bodies. Humans hunch their shoulders, clench their jaws; dogs and horse tighten their hindquarters.
“Traditionally we try first to soothe the animal, expecting the body to then relax. T-Touch works the other way: displacing the physical tension first; the attendant emotions follow.