My dog met a visiting practitioner of canine massage and other therapeutic body work when she came by our office to give the staff some lessons.
Due to some scheduling confusion, we were not expecting her that day, and since I lived the closest to the office, it was I who got to go get my dog to be used for the demo. My dog Bugsy liked to be scratched behind the ears, and accepted most sorts of petting affably enough, but he was not demanding about it, and in many ways, it seemed to me like he could take it or leave it after several seconds of brief petting.
Massage, however, it turned out, was something he could never get enough of. Under the skilled hands of a professional, he relaxed and was more peaceful than I had ever seen him. She demonstrated a number of techniques on him, especially those from Tellington Touch, or TTouch as it is more commonly called. TTouch is a method of touching an animal’s body all over in circular motions. It combines touching the body, lifting parts of the body and movement to benefit the animal, and is most commonly performed on dogs, cats, and horses, though it has been used on guinea pigs, birds, goats, mice, and just about every other animal that spends time with people. TTouch has been reported to help animals and humans develop a closer relationship with greater trust and a better rapport as well as to improve an animal’s health, self-confidence and overall behavior.
Using what I had learned from the demonstration at the office, I did some TTouch work on Bugsy, too. It seemed so obvious that he liked it, and over the next few weeks, I did what I could to replicate his experience at work. He responded to me well, but though he was relaxed and seemingly content, I could not shake the feeling that that I was far from matching the glorious success that I had witnessed at the office.
This thought was confirmed the next time the professional came back and my dog saw her. He became ecstatic—friendly, happy, and wagging from the shoulders back, he whined and lay down in front of her in massage position. When she started to massage him, I swear he moaned, sighed, and released every bit of tension in his body within moments of when she first touched him. My dog, though generally friendly, has never greeted anyone else like that, before or since.
Motivated by the belief that the better I became at TTouch, the more I would be able to help my dog, I began to practice the technique regularly and to study how to perform it. I eventually achieved a level of skill that allowed me to reap considerable benefits from using TTouch—especially the ability to work more effectively with dogs who were fearful and anxious. Using TTouch often seemed to help dogs feel comfortable enough around me that I could train them more easily and quickly.
Most importantly, I am so glad that I was able to make my own dog’s final years happier with what I knew of TTouch and canine massage. He had been hard on his body over the years—perhaps not realizing that he was only going to get one body and that it should be treated with care. I feel confident that TTouch helped make him feel better and be more active as an older dog.