Face, a Reluctant Show Dog
by Practitioner Kathi Lehman.
Face, a longhair standard Dachshund, came to TTouch as a Champion show dog. Vicki and Bruce Walsh were Face's owners and breeders. The Walshes have bred and shown dogs for thirty years. They had tried all the normal show dog training and socialization with Face, but while he was champion, he had developed bad behavior patterns.
Face had managed to finish his championship, but he was afraid of everything. He is an exquisite dog, but he is very nervous. At times, Face would totally loose it in the ring, and it would be everything Bruce could do just to hang on to him. He was very afraid of loud noises and would go into freeze at times. Face did not ever eat very well and was a very poor traveler. If Face had a "good" day and managed to win, he would totally refuse to walk on to the winners' platform to receive his award or have his photo taken.
Bruce brought Face to me ready to give up on Face as a show dog. My assessment was that Face was very tight in his stomach area and generally not very present. Face was very sweet but did not make any kind of contact really with anyone.
I used a body wrap and a Halti on him. When Face had his TTouch "clothes" on we just walked around for about three minutes. Many performance dogs have been over stimulated by their dog jobs and sometimes very short easy sessions are the way to begin a breakthrough with them. I also did a short basic session of Clouded Leopard TTouches and mouth work. I used a pressure of about a three with the TTouches. His tail was limp, so I did some gentle tail-work as well. Then we took a break of about an hour.
We let Face wander around mv place, visit with other dogs and wear his body wrap in this very relaxed situation. He wore his body wrap for about 15 minutes. He then had about an hour to relax and process his first session.
I then put the Halti back on and the body wrap back on and gave Face some food treats. We very slowly did the labyrinth. At first, Face was very nervous, and I used a wand to coax him along with me. We then put him into the Homing Pigeon and lie was a bit more confident with Bruce as the leader. When we added the platform, Bruce commented that Face would never go up on that. Using the Homing Pigeon, wands and bits of food treats, we managed to get Face to climb up on the platform. I then did another ten-minute session of bodywork and Face went home.
Bruce brought Face back the next weekend and we began with the same light bodywork. Face was still very tense in his body with his gut area really feeling like a knot. Face had a much easier time with the confidence course this time. We added his stepping over a couple of low poles. These low poles are made by cutting swimming pool noodles in half. At first, stepping over something was very hard for Face, but he managed. My hope was that by asking him to pick up his feet tjat he would become more aware of his feet and his body.
Face went to a dog show the next weekend. He did better. Bruce felt he was calmer and more responsive. He won and he was willing to walk up the little ramp and take his ribbons. Bruce was also able to get a photo of Face standing on the little platform and that was another first.
The Walshes live two hours from me. They wanted Face to have more TTouch sessions, but the drive was a bit much. I offered to take Face for a week of TTouch camp. I repeated the sessions as described above. I added an evening session of slow gentle bodywork including Raccoon TTouch and lots of TTouch mouth-work. It took four sessions before Face seemed to have a real relaxation response. I did not really think any true progress had been made, but he was a nice dog and I had enjoyed working with him.
Face went home. The first call I got was asking me what I had done to make him eat. The Walshes had not mentioned the issue with Face eating, so not only had I not done anything, but also, I didn't even know it was an issue! I had just fed him, but I had done a bit of TTouch on him prior to each meal because I was trying to maximize our week.
The next week, Face went to the dog show. He did very well. He was more relaxed than ever. He even ate little treats called bait in the ring.
The Walshes asked me to work on Face at a dog show. I did a couple of sessions on Face at nearby dog shows. These sessions included some bodywork prior to his being groomed for the ring. I did note that his tail did not feel as disconnected anymore. Hoever, his stomach area was still tense so I did Abalone TTouches on that area with a very slow lift at the end.
I went to ringside and used the lines on the floor to make a little labyrinth. Prior to asking Face to walk forward in our invisible labyrinth, I did a few circles on his rump above his tail. Then as we started out, I did a little flicking TTouch like the horse-leading position and Dingo to encourage him move out and use his rear legs. This warm-up seemed to work quite well. In the ring, Bruce would do light mouth-work on the outside of Face's lips prior to the judge examining Face.
Face has gone on to learn to enjoy his job as a show dog. He now lives with a very nice handler, Loreen Hogan. Loren keeps Face as a house dog when he is not at the shows and they have bonded very well. I taught Loreen some TTouches and she has continued his sessions. Face became the number one ranked Longhair Standard Dachshund for 1999.