Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dandy heads to the vet...

not feeling so well.

Poor Dandy's tummy has just not been feeling well for the last couple of weeks so, yesterday we headed to the vet.  The great news is that Dandy did really well at the vet - when we were there last fall he submissive urinated and lost control of his bowels because he was so anxious.  He was actually able to lay on my lap while I was gently stroking his ears and rubbing his back, thank you TTouch! So for the next couple of weeks, Dandy will be on antibiotics with a a higher fiber diet and hopefully he'll be back to normal in no time flat!

feeling relaxed enough to sleep in one of his favorite new positions

Monday, July 30, 2012

2012 rattifest....

Yesterday was the Pacific Northwest Rattifest and it was rat-tastic!  Thanks to so many generous adopters and NR supports we raised $1,380.00 & had an amazing time with a ton of rattie's at the event.  All of this money will help future rattie's in need. 

Because our group is so close and tight knit, we all know of each other's foster dogs so, it's awesome to see past foster dogs with their new families.  Three of my past foster dog's attended and it was fun to see them and catch up with their people!  Pixie now Olive was looking fantastic and Boushey & his adopters found out he has a fan club.  Boushey has his own amazing blog http://boushey.wordpress.com Stay tuned to where I talk about Lacey our first foster dog with New Rattitude - she too attended the event.

Pixie now Olive with her mom

Boushey aka Boo working for a treat!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dandy warming up and hoping to feel better soon...

It may be late July but, poor Dandy has been cold!  He's been shaking a lot and once I put his winter sweater on him - tada, no more shaking.   However, Dandy had been battling an upset tummy for a bit of time.  So, despite a bland diet (boiled chicken, rice & chicken broth) along with some slippery elm bark he and I will be heading to the vet tomorrow to see if we can figure out how to help his tummy settle down.

Those are his pink and orange TTouch wraps that he's stretched out on!

Dandy in his chilly dog sweater

Saturday, July 28, 2012

What's next with TTouch...

Dandy will continue in private sessions with his practitioner and I'll be working on improving the 5 touches that were shown to us.  I have also purchased the 4+ hour DVD by Dandy's practioner Lori Stevens which I'm looking forward to watching and learning even more!  I'm considering making my own Labyrinth and getting the mini jumps to keep up on the movement work.  I've been collecting different types of surfaces for Dandy to walk on as well.  As always we'll move at Dandy's pace and see where we end up!

Finally, I've also signed up for the second TTouch session through Northwests School of Animal Massage "TTouch Training: Walk With Me"  the focus will be to explore tools and techniques that help us to walk in harmony with our animals.  This will be in September and I'm looking forward to another wonderful day of learning!

Dandy relaxing at the workshop

 Dandy in his soft crate after we left the workshop!

So tired and in a very  relaxed position for him despite how akward it looks!

Friday, July 27, 2012

The TTouch workshop - part 3...

The last component covered in the workshop was around movement work - this builds confidence, improves focus, and encourages balance (mental, physical and emotional)

Below is a video of Dandy working three separate movement exercises.  The first is slowly walking over the mini jumps the second, walking on and across a mat of rough plastic grass and the third moving through the Labyrinth.

One may find themselves asking "why might this be helpful?"  Some of the benefits of movement exercises are that they positively influences behavior, performance, coordination, balance and well-being, while deepening understanding and the relationship between human and dog.  The movements are done slowly and with stops to allow the dog to feel in balance.  This is much easier said than done as I experienced first hand!  For us humans who are go, go, go this slowing down is helpful to everyone involved.

As you will see, Dandy was amazing - this course was done at the end of the day which was long day for a dog like Dandy. You can hear, there was a plane going by and you can see all the people watching us and the other dogs in the corral area as we were working.   To add one more twist for Dandy, I had him try out a double ended leash. It hooks to the front of his wonder walker and on top of his wonder walker, you can see he didn't miss a beat.  Pretty amazing considering when he first came to us he was scared to be on leash.

Dandy on the plastic grass mat

Slowing down - easier said than done for me!

All finished and saying hi to Dandy's new friend

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The TTouch workshop part 2.....

Equipment and tools are another component of TTouch! We discussed the use of various leash configurations to help with dogs that pull and to help bring the dog back in balance, harnesses that reduce pulling and take the pressure off the dog’s neck.  Another common tool are body wraps which are used for anxiety & stressful situations.  The wraps are actually elastic bandages that wrap around the animals body in a number of ways for a variety of reasons and help the dog to feel comfortable in their own skin.  Think of swaddling a baby, that's how it's believed the wraps work,  seeming to give a sense of security or being held.  The thunder shirt was created by a TTouch person if anyone was curious about that.

We have not yet "wrapped" Dandy as he has issues with being physically contained so, we are starting slowly with just getting use to being around a wrap.  Just like touch, I think once he trusts the wraps he will enjoy the experience and find some additional relief around his anxiety.

Catty like Dandy struggles with anxiety and Catty also experiences leash reactivity and car sickness.  All of these issues can be "wrapped" so, I purchased a TTouch "All Wrapped up" book at the workshop thinking I'll give it a try. We'll see what Catty thinks about this idea!  Oh and did you know there's TTouch for humans...

Darcy was kind enough to be wrapped at the workshop

Dandy in a double ended lead

Monday & Tuesday were slow and steady, getting use to being around the wraps

By Wednesday and I was able to drape the wraps on his back
I purchased this book and can't wait to try it out with Catty!
Wraps that are dyed and come in all different sizes

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The TTouch workshop - part 1...

What an amazing experience Dandy and I had at the workshop!  Prior to Dandy coming back to us, I knew very little about TTouch.  I did know that one of New Ratittude's Georgia and Michigan foster parents used TTouch methods with their foster dogs and had good results.  Once Dandy was back with us,  I decided I would look for a TTouch practitioner and lucky us, we found Lori Stevens who has done wonders with little Dandy boy!  Dandy has had 3 private sessions, all tailored to his needs/issues.  When I found out Lori was teaching a TTouch workshop, I couldn't sign up fast enough as I knew I would learn a lot which ultimately would help me, Catty and the foster dogs.  Lori and I spoke about bringing Dandy and we decided it would be a good idea as long as we were able to make it a safe and good experience for him.  Sure enough we were able to do this thanks to Dandy's trust with Lori, myself and the participants in the class who just let Dandy move at his pace during the workshop.  This was a day full of tons of new experiences for Dandy and he once again showed us what a wonderful, resilient boy he is.  As for me, I'm pretty enamored with TTouch and can't wait to learn even more. 

During this one day workshop we covered 3 basic components of TTouch:

1) Bodywork - gentle, non-invasive and non-habitual pressure touch
2) Equipment and Tools - these bring awareness and change to animals
3) Movement work - this builds confidence, improves focus, and encourages balance (mental, physical and emotional)

Dandy was able to be an active participant in 2 of the 3 components and as you will soon seem he was a super star.

Ear touches, this is one of Dandy's favorite touches and something we can do at home with him! As you can see he's being very brave by coming in face first, something that is very hard for him.

Dandy's back legs and tail carry a lot of muscle tension so, Lori does a good amount of work in these areas which again, Dandy loves.

Working his tight little tail.  When Lori stops, Dandy back in asking more more touching!

Working on movement of Dandy's legs.  He's carries his body in a very rigid manor and his back legs remind me of brittle sticks.  Working his range of motion in combination with the touches is something he likes.
More movements, I was actually surprised at how long Dandy was allowing Lori to work his legs considering he was in the center of the room with lots of eyes watching as Dandy & Lori worked.

Dandy has a "roached" back, it arches up and this is due to years of stress/tension and here you can see Lori using touch to help release the tension and relax his muscles.  I really wish I had video taped this - one she finished the touch you could visibly see the difference and this lasted for the remainder of the day.

Dandy was nervous with all that was going on so, I was close by which allowed him to feel relaxed during the time he & Lori were working together.   As usual, Dandy was able to move away if he felt like the work was too much for him.  The first couple of touches he did move away for a break but, then came back on his own for more work.

At the end of the day when Lori was wrapping up the workshop I looked down and there was no Dandy, I looked over at Lori (who was seated in her chair) and there was Dandy leaning up against her gently asking for more bodywork! 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dandy meets the goats at Paxhia Farm...

Dandy was not so sure about the goats although they seemed more than willing to be friends with him!  There's were some of the sweetest and cutest goats I've been around - there was Mojo, Willow, Maggie and Pebbles. The goats, like the other animals are models at the Northwest School for Animal Massage!

Willow, Maggie & Pebbles (Left to Right)

These weird looking things are kinda freaking me out! 

Ok 2nd try after about 30 seconds and Dandy decides they are not so bad! He did great with so many new experiences to his sense's of sight and smell.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Paxhia farm, the location of the TTouch workshop

The TTouch workshop was offered through Northwest School of Animal Massage and held at Paxhia Farm on Vashon Island.  This is a beautiful 12.5 acre farm where a number of classes are offered along with housing a variety of horses, goats, dogs and a donkey of which Dandy was able to meet and greet all of them thanks to the amazing staff at the school.  The farm animals are active participant's for those enrolled in the school's different programs which is great for animals and humans alike!
If anyone one is ever interested in massage or other body work classes I highly recommend this school, check them out at http://www.nwsam.com/index.html

The classroom is spacious and inviting

Dandy and I walk the trails during our lunch break

Lots to smell and see

"What on earth is that thing?"

"I'm nervous but, curious enough to get a little closer"

"Oh my, this is close enough for me!"

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Meet up with Celilo (now Pinkie)...

What an amazing day Dandy and I had - we were up at 4:45 and caught the ferry over to Vashon Island to meet up first with former foster girl Celilo now Pinkie prior to our TTouch class.  Dandy and Pinkie did overlap with each other and it was clear that they knew each other - Pinkie wasn't so sure of me at first but after 30 seconds she all of a sudden remembered and it was full on kissy face!

It's always so heartwarming to see how awesome a dog is doing in their home.  Little Pinkie was in a California kill shelter, not showing well at all and with each day was getting more and more stressed in the shelter.  When we fostered Pinkie she was very nervous with people and really any life experience so, it was clear that she needed a pretty mellow, patient adopter who would help her feel safe while continuing to help her see that the world can be a pretty great place.  Pinkie also had a healthy dose of crate anxiety and wasn't potty trained so, she needed someone who was home a good chunk of time to work with her around these issues.  Pinkie struck the jackpot when her mom applied to adopt her.  Pinkie's mom is a retired librarian and these two gals spend a lot of time together. Seeing Pinkie it was clear that both Pinkie and her mom love each other dearly and Pinkie is doing wonderful in the very short time they have been together.  Pinkie has developed a fan club in town and she frequently gets to stop into the library for treats of chicken and attention for the library staff.  Pinkie also gets tons of walking in - through the town of Vashon, hiking trails, beach walks! 

I'm hoping to go back to Vashon in August or September for another TTouch class so, I will no doubt be seeing Pinkie and her mom again!

I'll be posting over the next couple of days about the TTouch class Dandy and I attended so stay tuned.

Pinkie relaxing in her forever home
Pinkie's shelter picture

Saturday, July 21, 2012

What is TTouch?

As you know, Dandy has been going to TTouch sessions and many may ask the question "what exactly is TTouch?"  Here's a brief overview:
Tellington TTouch is a gentle and unique method of working with both health and behavioral problems in animals.  It includes both bodywork and movement exercises that positively influence behavior, performance, co-ordination, balance and well-being, while deepening understanding and the relationship between humans and animals.  These, non-invasive touches & exercises influence habitual patterns of tension and posture by giving new information to the nervous system.  TTouch is a method based on circular movements of the fingers and hands all over the body. The intent of the TTouch is to activate the function of the cells and awaken cellular intelligence - a little like turning on the electric lights of the body. TTouch is done on the entire body, and each circular TTouch is complete within itself. Using a combination of specific touches, lifts, and movement exercises, TTouch helps to release tension and increase body awareness. This allows the animal to be handled without provoking typical fear responses. The animal can then more easily learn new and more appropriate behaviors.  As a result, animals relax and learn to make better choices.  TTouch is based on cooperation and understanding rather than dominance. These  techniques promote optimal performance and health without fear or force.   

Friday, July 20, 2012

Dandy & I are headed to Vashon Island...

Tomorrow, Dandy and I will be attending an all day workshop on TTouch of which both of us are jazzed about. The instructor is the TTouch practitioner who works with Dandy and the workshop will be taught at amazing farm so, there will be lots to see and do. 

What makes this trip even more exciting is that we are going to meet up with Celilo (who is now Pinkie).  Pinkie has made HUGE strides since being adopted and we are excited to witness her progress.  Pinkie has an amazing mom who is beyond patient around working with Pinkie's issues.  Pinkie has really taken to living on an island as the slower pace of island life has really helped her to work on trusting people & new situations that would normally scare her. Way to go Pinkie and we are looking forward to seeing you & your mom!

Pinkie resting on Dandy

Pinkie wondering why Dandy is so slow to finish his chew

Pinkie says "no more pictures" I'm trying to sleep!

awww, finally getting some sleep

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dandy's medication update...

Over the last couple of weeks we've noticed an up tick in the cue's Dandy gives us that he's anxious/worried.  These include: tongue flicking, a dropped head, nibbling at his toys, trembling, shedding, losing weight and being more tentative with us.  Then the melt down last week just seemed to compound what we were already seeing.  Dandy has been on Fluoxetine (also known by the tradename Prozac) since June 1st and we have seen a big improvement with him being more at ease on the medication.  Today we had a check in with the vet and we decided that upping his medication is the next practical step since there can be plateauing on medication and he was started at a very low dose. So, we'll see how the next couple of weeks play out for sweet Dandy boy and this is one of them many great things about a dog being in foster care with New Rattitude.  The foster parent gets to know & work with the dog and there is support and patience from the group.  The dog's care is of primary importance rather than just pushing them out the door into an adopter's home.  With a dog like Dandy this support and understanding is key to his rehabilitation!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Why yes Dandy, you are a handsome rattie...

We had a photo shoot and Dandy was a rock star!  I still had to use the zoom to get these close ups but, Dandy's getting a little better about allowing me to get eye level with him and with him looking directly at me.  Dandy gets very uncomfortable if one gets into his personal space which can be pretty good sized.  So, we are working on reducing the size and Dandy is a dog who will always need his personal space and for the human to understand and respect that about him.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dandy getting tricky...

Dandy knows a a couple of tricks of which one is high five! This is a fun and easy trick and he's pretty good at it.  When teaching Dandy tricks, we make sure the training sessions are fun, short and focused on one easy skill at a time for him to master. Also as with everything else Dandy related, we move at his pace.  When he shows us with his body language that he's done, then we are done.  Our goal is to have fun, build confidence and connection!
You will see that with the tricks we do with Dandy we also try to find a way to incorporate a hand movement/gesture that causes him a lot of worry/anxiety. With high five we use an open hand, sometimes open hand with fingers pointed down other times with fingers pointed up.  This has helped to desensitize him around a human coming towards him with what could be perceived as an open handed slap.  This was a slow process and we built up to the open hand with trust, patience and treats.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dandy gets a gift...

As many may know, New Rattitude is a national 100% volunteer run rescue group. One of the things that makes the group so awesome is how we all spread the word about supporting rescue and our rescued rattie's.  On Saturday Dandy received a gift of a hand made fleece rope along with a very sweet note.  One of the NR volunteer's who lives in Illinois and works with adolescents decided that they could support our rattie's. As a group they all made toys for the NR rescued rattie's as a service project. They were able to learn about rescue and make a difference in helping a foster dog have a lot of fun!  Here's Dandy working on fetch with his rope!

All tuckered out and resting with his ropie

Sunday, July 15, 2012

What does a boy needs to do to get comfortable?

We were hanging out on the deck and Dandy was having a hard time staying awake...

Finally he decided he'd get better sleep if he just layed down...

But then he decided that rolling to his other side might be more comfortable but, man a lot of work...

He said "forget rolling over I'll just lay back down" but it just wasn't comfortable...

Finally he just got up and curled up  on the bed!