Wednesday, July 16, 2014

We have been busy!

It's been forever since we wrote a blog post, but that doesn't mean we haven't been busy. I attended my fourth Tellington TTouch class in Pflugerville, Texas, in early June. And, I leave on Friday for my fifth class - at the beautiful Icelandic Horse Farm in Vernon, British Columbia.

Since I can now work with paying clients, I have a business name - All Creatures TTouch - and, as of this morning, my own website, All Creatures TTouch Behavior & Training. The website is definitely under construction, but I hope to have basic information available in the very near future.

I have also pulled together an editorial calendar so I can post here regularly. The day-to-day details tend to pull me away from the computer. And I have found that being tied to a desk (I gave up my laptop for a new Mac desktop in January) isn't nearly as convenient as I had hoped. Maybe I can supplement with another laptop very soon ...

The dogs are healthy and happy. The week I returned from my Texas training, I drove to Kansas to collect a new rescue girl, picked up as a stray in the western part of the state. I cannot thank Airedale rescue volunteers enough for helping with transport, vetting, and grooming of this little one, named Joan Jett (JJ) in honor of the little town where she was found, Jetmore. JJ has been with us for a month now and is slowly coming around. She is extremely timid and untrained in all manner of living with humans - using a leash, pottying outside, walking through doorways and on varying indoor surfaces. I'm thankful to be available to work with her this summer, to help her learn confidence and to embrace the world around her. It's a slow process, but she is teaching me, too - as have so many wonderful canine teachers - to go slowly, with presence and with an open heart. As Ram Dass says, "Be here now." She is learning and then we backslide and then we learn again. One of my teachers and mentors, Kathy Cascade, sums it up like this: "It's about moments, not minutes." So JJ and I try to focus on the moments. JJ is listed on the national Welsh Terrier rescue website, WTCARES. She will stay here with me a while longer, but soon she will be ready for her own loving forever home.

The dogs and I thank you for reading our infrequent ramblings and for being our friends. We are grateful for your physical and your online place in our lives and in our hearts. And so I leave you with a couple of photos from our recent mornings outdoors. Oklahoma weather is being kind to us this summer. We have had more than a few mornings of absolute coolness and beauty in the midst of what is normally stifling temperatures 24 hours a day this time of year.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A day for peace

This poem hangs in my office. One day I will find a framed copy but, for now, it is typed and taped to my wall. I found my eyes searching for it this morning as I walked in, and now have read it several times. It resonates today.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
  --Wendell Berry

Thank you, Mr. Berry. Your words are balm for my heart and soul today.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Goodbye, friend

Last fall, I wrote a post about our all-too-short time with the animals in our lives. At the time, my parents' little terrier-mix had begun having seizures and coughing at any exertion. For a brief while, Sandy improved but, a week ago, the seizure frequency increased, she became frightened rather than shaking off each episode, and she could no longer control bodily functions as she seized. It was time, and she told my mom in no uncertain terms.

Mom and Sandy
Mom said she felt at peace after she made the call to the vet. She, Sandy and my dad spent a lovely weekend together. The weather was good, I cut up steak in small chunks so her very few teeth could chew. Mom fixed her lots of scrambled eggs with cheese. They snuggled on the sofa and in their favorite chairs, with Mom massaging her for hours on end. I took some pictures on Sunday and will have one framed for Mom to keep.

When Monday morning came my dad, who was scheduled to go to the vet with Mom and Sandy, needed to go to the doctor.. So, I went instead. I used some lavender essential oil, as Sandy had had a couple of severe seizures overnight. I also began Reiki, as she was shaking almost uncontrollably, a habit that began about 18 months ago, and continued it throughout the next hour.

We both stayed with her and our vets - family friends we have known forever - were in tears, too. Sandy was most calm. Her eyes, always huge and brown, were calm as I held her. Her shaking was absolutely gone for the first time in months. She looked in my eyes the entire time the anesthesia was taking effect and she simply went to sleep. Once the second injection was administered, her heart stopped almost immediately. It was tired. It was time.

We planned to lay Sandy to rest in my parents' backyard, where she could keep watch over the neighborhood cats. But, a family friend who helps them a lot in the yard and house offered to take her to his home in the country and lay her to rest with all his animals. She is now among many friends and I know she is also sticking close to Mom, as she has mentioned hearing her footsteps coming up the stairs several times this week.

Thank you, Sandy. You were a beautiful little companion. The hole you left is huge. Keep watch over Mom and Dad and visit when you can. You are missed.
Too tired to even hold herself up for long

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Monday, February 24, 2014

A fun day in the barn!

I mentioned last week that we planned to attend our first barn hunt over the weekend. We did and it was so much fun!

I should have packed the car Friday night. I didn't and that meant getting up early to get everything loaded - crates, treats, water, bowls, leashes, harnesses, towels, first aid kits. The dogs definitely have more stuff than the humans! We hit the road just before 7 a.m. Carson, of course, sat up for the entire drive, watching me intently with her little black eyes. Marley was calm and quiet from his position at the rear of the Outback. We arrived just in time for the judges seminar, where we learned the specifics and all the dogs were introduced to the rats - both in cages and in the tubes used during the actual hunts. Both Marley and Carson went nuts over the rats; it was hard to lower their intensity once they saw and smelled them.

I ran each of the dogs twice in the introductory event (RATN), which was allowed since it was a fun match and no ribbons were being awarded. Marley was one of the first dogs "up," and he was promptly disqualified for marking a hay bale. Oops! Carson didn't find the rat first time out either but, honestly, in both cases handler error (me!) was more to blame than anything else. In barn hunts, as opposed to earthdog trials, you can actually talk to your dog. Once I got the hang of that, both dogs did a much better job. They found the rats the second time around and had a blast doing it! They didn't have to climb or tunnel at the intro level, just release them and find the tube with the rat in it within 60 seconds. Four other terriers and their humans were there. We have known one another for years and had a great time.
Carson works the rat after choosing the right tube!
Barn hunts are open to dogs of all breeds and sizes. Besides our six terriers, there was a cocker spaniel, a boxer, two Rhodesian Ridgebacks, dalmatian, wire-haired dachshund, and several other breeds. Perfect way to spend a brisk Saturday morning. Carson and Marley slept most of the rest of the day. I guess all that barking and jumping wore them out. I know it did me!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Taming the hairy beasts!

Yesterday we had the day off from school AND the weather was nice. That meant it was time to do some serious terrier grooming. After all, we will attend our first-ever barn hunt this weekend in Edmond (OK). I have never considered myself anything more than an almost-adequate groomer - and some would disagree with even that description! But we made it through with lots of terrier coat gone and no scrapes or blood loss. All in all, that's a pretty good day.

Marley - before #1
Marley was up first. His coat has never been the best. For one thing, to say he is double-coated would be an exaggeration! And his furnishings? Geez, they are super-thin.
Marley - almost done!
Marley - "before" #2

Then came Little Miss Carson. She is famous for sitting down when I want her to stand and it's no different on the grooming table! Most striking is how different it is to groom her from Marley. I've never done them back-to-back before, so those differences were much more apparent.

Her coat is classic Welsh double-thick, sometimes making it a challenge to even get the clippers through. Wiry, thick, hard - and sticks to everything it touches when trimmed - that's what you get when you groom Carson!

The photo on the left is before we started and on the right is nearly done. Faces and furnishing are tough for me and I trim both more than what is done for the show ring. But it helps keep her a bit cleaner when playing in the yard or slinging water all over the kitchen.

Enough fur for another WT

My "perfect angel"!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Celebrate the month of love with your pet!

Do you celebrate holidays with your pet? I'll be the first to admit that while my dogs are definitely spoiled, we rarely have special pet-centered celebrations. They like to chew things too much to have gifts for them to unwrap. They don't like being dressed in costumes (coats/sweaters are tough enough when the weather is cold!). Lots of folks love celebrating with their pets and have elevated it to a high art form. It this describes you, here are some special celebrations you can share with your pet this month. Be sure to fill out the survey at the end of this list and we will share how others celebrate with their pets, then you'll have even more reasons to throw a party!

February is ... Spoil Your Pet Month. Join BlogPaws ( for ideas on spoiling your pet!

National Pet Dental Health Month (​al_health/npdhm/default.​asp)

Responsible Pet Owners Month

National Wild Bird Feeding Month

Opening of the Winter Olympics, February 6

Westminister Kennel Club Show, held the second Monday and Tuesday of February (this year, that is February 10-11)

Have A Heart for Chained Dogs Weed, February 7 - February 14 (

Pet Theft Awareness Day, February 14 (​m/day.htm)

Valentine's Day, February 14

Great Backyard Bird Count, February 14 - February 17

World Whale Day, February 15

National Justice for Animals Week, Week of February 24 (

Love Your Pet Day, February 20

Walking Your Dog Day, February 22

International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day, February 23

Spay Day USA, February 25

World Spay Day, February 25 - 20th Anniversary!

International Polar Bear Day, February 27

National Polar Bear Day, February 27

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Lying Leopard

It is interesting that Lying Leopard is described as being less invasive than Clouded Leopard and so many animals like it better if they are sensitive to touch. We had kind of a mixed reaction here.

Lying Leopard is supposed to allow a larger area of "warm contact" with the hand. I often hold my breath when I'm working - something I try to recognize and change, but it's a work in progress. I think that probably affects how my dogs feel about it overall.

Blue liked it the most. I'm not sure that it wasn't too much like a massage for him, so I need to keep that in mind, although you do need to get through the fur to the skin. He doesn't like the circles too fast or too slow. The trick is finding his "just right"!

This is another one of those touches that Blue really likes along his hindquarters. He totally backed up into me and wanted this experiment to continue.

The terriers weren't so sure about the whole process. Maybe because they're smaller so it seemed like I was covering a larger area? Maybe I should increase the speed of the circles, slowing down once they relax. I need to spend more time to see how they react long-term. And I think I need to make sure I'm more on the level with them rather than working from a standing position, which can always be an issue.

Beginning today, we are going to start doing mouth work. This may need a couple of weeks, as it's a slow process and I don't want to push too much or too soon. Basically, we will begin with Lying Leopard TTouches on the outside of the mouth and make tiny circles on the gums, working on both sides of the mouth. I want to do multiple short sessions to keep stress levels down. Mouth TTouch is used extensively for aggression, barking, biting, chewing, dental woe, emotional upset, fear of vet offices, hyperactivity, licking, nervousness and stress - most of the emotional issues. I have seen it used with absolutely wonderful success on dogs, and have seen it magically calm down my own Carson. My friend Cynde Van Vleet, a TTouch practitioner in California, used it to work miracles on Carson during a stressful point in a class a couple of years ago. Carson has recently started barking a lot when outside, so I hope this will ease that a bit.

In other news, the new computer purchase, migration and set-up is complete. I really didn't want to replace my laptop just yet, but it made the decision for me. After long conversations with my children and writer-friends, I opted for the Mac desktop with a 21.5" screen. I have to admit it is nice to write, edit and proofread on it, but I do miss the portability of the laptop. I'll just need to get more comfortable writing on the iPad mini. At right is a photo of the new digs in the sunroom.

The cold and grey continues in Oklahoma. The dogs and I are in desperate need of sunshine and warm breezes (not winds, but breezes would be nice).

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday (only not today!)

The only kind of snow day I like (and even then, it's too cold!).

While not directly pet-related, I learned my love of animals - terriers, in particular - from my parents. We had any combination of dogs growing up, a couple of stray cats, fish, gerbils.

Three weeks ago, we had a setback when the doc found my dad had a bladder tumor. Fast-forward to today, and the man who, at nearly 93, had never had anesthesia or surgery sailed through and the tumor, while cancerous, was caught early and is extremely slow-growing. And so today, I am celebrating my not-so-Wordless-Wednesday with a photo of my folks, who will celebrate another anniversary together next week. Happy day!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Pet holidays - January 2014

Do you celebrate holidays with your pets? More and more people do just that, so we'll take a bit of space each month to let you know what's going on and where you can find more information.

January is nearly done, but there is still time to celebrate together!

National Train Your Dog Month 

Walk Your Pet Month (although I will admit I'm not doing much about this, what with the really cold weather and all!)

January 29, 2014: Seeing Eye guide Dog Birthday

Technological interruptions

I'm sorry to report that we will have a brief interruptions in posts as my primary computer crashed over the weekend. I hope to make a Tulsa run this afternoon to buy a new one and then will go back in a few days, after they have (hopefully!) transferred all my data. Until then, I can't access my posts and/or photos.

Keep your fingers crossed for us! We have had a lot of interesting adventures in recent days and can't wait to share them.

Stay warm and safe. It was 70F here yesterday and 0F by this morning. Oh, Oklahoma ...

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Belly Lifts practice

This was definitely my biggest challenge yet as far as practicing on my own dogs. I would love to actually have photographic evidence but, since it's just the dogs and me, I don't have enough hands!

As I mentioned, Belly Lifts have a number of uses, including digestive issues, sore backs, nervousness and gait problems. It's best to use a towel with animals like dogs and cats. The idea is to gently and slowly lift the abdomen from underneath, hold for 3-5 seconds, then release very slowly (taking twice as long as the lift is recommended). Starting behind the front legs, the towel is moved along the body towards the hindquarters.

Carson was my best participant this week. She stood quietly as I worked with her, then wiggled and shook it off when we were done. She seemed to like the gentle pressure. Marley sat down after the first lift and had to be persuaded to stand again. I felt like he was tolerating me practicing on him each time I tried it, but he wasn't thrilled. Not surprisingly, Blue was definitely uncomfortable. First of all, I put something unexpected (the towel) around him. Then I lifted his abdomen - not once, but THREE times! He backed into a corner whenever possible, although her was more comfortable with having the front part of his body worked. As we moved closer to his hindquarters, he got more antsy. But that area continues to be a challenge with him, so not surprising.

This is one I need to work into the rotation fairly often so the dogs get more used to it. That way, when and if it is really needed, they may accept it more easily.

Week 4 will focus on Lying Leopard, which is a variation of the Clouded Leopard. The main difference is the curve of the hand is more flat, so there is a larger area of contact. This touch is good for animals that may be too sensitive to Clouded Leopard, as it feels less invasive.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

bugRIGHT, Made in Oklahoma

[This post first appeared on my sister blog, Pawsitive Places. But in the interests of doing less and doing it (hopefully) better, I plan to write only this blog for the time being.]

Even when the temperature dips well below freezing, most Oklahomans know it simply doesn't get cold enough here to kill off "critters" in our homes, yards and on pets. And now there is a new, natural solution for Oklahomans and their pets – an organic, non-poisonous bug repellent called bugRIGHT. Even better, it’s made in Oklahoma!

bugRIGHT products are natural and safe for people, pets and the environment. The bug repellent powder utilizes natural ingredients, including essential oils, to kill bugs and discourage future infestations. According to inventor Paul Goss, essential plant oils attack the central nervous systems of insects, killing them within a few hours. These same dosage amounts are harmless to humans, birds and mammals, and the environment. bugRIGHT utilizes clove thyme and wintergreen essential oils, along with soybean oil, diatomaceous earth, sodium chloride (table salt), sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and 2-phenethyl propionate (a derivative of peanut oil).

It's tough to find a balance between a nice lawn and a safe environment for pets. Vegetable gardens are most abundant when free of pests like squash bugs. The same is true for inside spaces. No one wants to live with ants, fleas, roaches, scorpions or ticks. And bugRIGHT offers an option. It is important to note that a study presented in the January 2012 issue of the Environmental Research journal found that exposure to professionally-applied lawn pesticides was shown to a significantly higher risk – 70 percent – of canine malignant lymphoma (CML). While the study did not contain many specifics, there was enough information provided in the results to raise a red flag. And there is certainly enough concern to show a link between CML and pesticides. In reporting the study, Whole Dog Journal noted that dogs “can serve as sentinels for human disease because they are our close companions and are subjected to many of the same environmental influences.” The article, authored by Barbara Dobbins goes on to say that while the goal of the study was “to identify risk factors for CML from exposure to environmental chemicals … for humans,” it is important to note that canines and humans experience different exposures to lawn care products. Humans generally do not come in direct contact while dogs – their bodies and their toys – do.

Goss and his wife, Freda, developed bugRIGHT after they recognized their own need for a nontoxic alternative to garden chemicals. bugRIGHT is safe to use inside and out and even directly on pets. While made of food-grade materials, bugRIGHT should still be kept away from children and pets and should not be ingested. The dust from bugRIGHT powder could be irritating to respiratory systems and because the product contains essential plant oils, it may cause reactions in those sensitive to fragrances.

bugRIGHT comes in two containers so users may select method of delivery.

The 11-ounce shaker canister (suggested retail $15) is best for spreading evenly on gardens or carpeted areas.

Even though it seems like winter will never end, it won't be cold forever. Look for bugRIGHT today. You won't be sorry.

bugRIGHT is available at stores throughout northeastern Oklahoma. Distribution is expanding east and into Texas. To find out where you can buy bugRIGHT and to read more about the product, it's history and plans for the future, visit bugRIGHT

(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday

Celebrating dog beds!

We have five for three dogs, with two located on my bed and another on the floor of my bedroom, one in the living room and the big one in front of the dining room window.

How many are in your home and where?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Practicing Clouded Leopard

As I mentioned last week, Clouded Leopard was one of the first touches I learned. I think a lot of people do something like this pretty much naturally, at least the touch part. What I believe is equally important is the intention while touching, along with simply being present. Being present is a lesson I seem to have a hard time learning, by the way! Clouded Leopard uses the pads of all five fingers. The fingers are slightly curved, but not perpendicular as with Bear. The idea is to get below the fur to the skin, but certainly not to apply enough pressure to be considered massage. It is easy for me to go too quickly with Clouded Leopard, so I consciously try to slow my breathing and stay relaxed.

Blue is not nearly as fond of Clouded Leopard as he was of Bear. I will continue to work with him and try to help him reduce his stress levels. Marley and Carson both melt into this one. I use it quite a bit along Carson's neck under her chin, which is a bit of a touchy area for her. I need to find my rhythm, however, so I can flow from one circle to the next without it feeling so "jerky" to me.

Week 3 will be spent on Belly Lifts. These are used not only for digestive issues, but also for sore backs, nervousness, pregnancy, hypersensitivity, timidity, poor balance, arthritis, gait problems and in helping redirect negative behavior. While I could use my hands in a pinch, it works best to use a towel for most companion animals like dogs and cats. I am particularly interested to see how Blue responds!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday

Sorry! The day almost got away from me. Here are a few bits of the natural world to share from our little corner of the globe. Offered with love from Blue, Carson and Marley.

Storm clouds southeast of town

A tiny nest made from the native grasses
in the back yard. Recent winds blew it down.

Sun through the clouds as I left for work this morning.
It was even more red 30 minutes earlier!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Post-holiday letdown

The holidays are gone and now the college-age children gone, as well. My son left on Thursday for a four-month internship in Florida. As he does each time he leaves, he spent some quality time with Blue before he headed out, talking and telling him to "take care of the terriers and the girls." Then, yesterday, my daughter headed out for her second semester at college.

The dogs played all afternoon, taking advantage of sunshine and warm temperatures. I left the back door open so they could come and go and they got plenty of exercise. But it was much more quiet that it had been in recent weeks - no voices, no guitar and singing, no television.

We were all a little blue. Marley couldn't get close enough, as this picture shows. It will take everyone a bit of time to find our middle ground again. Of course, by then, the kids will probably be back home!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Hibernating with Bear TTouch

My apologies in advance if these experiments aren't as interesting as they seem to me! This week we worked with Bear, which means using the fingertips at a 90 degree angle to the skin/coat. I realized I use it pretty often and without realizing that's what I'm doing.

A huge (for us) cold front moved in on Saturday night, so I had a lot of forced hibernation time with the dogs - and the kids. It gave me plenty of chances to get my hands on the dogs, as the temperature dropped and the winds howled.

Bear TTouch puts Carson into a zen state pretty much every time. Her eyelids slowly close and she sinks into me, the bed, the sofa - wherever. I consciously try to slow down the circles, as I find myself going too fast much of the time.

Blue is much bigger, with a ton of coat. For him, the circle moves his fur around more. He will even back up to have the area around his tail touched with Bear, which is nearly unheard of with him.

As for Marley, well, he's pretty easy. He loves almost all touch.

Week 2 focus is on Clouded Leopard, one of the first touches I learned. Founder Linda Tellington-Jones wrote that this touch got its name from a Clouded Leopard at the Los Angeles Zoo who was worked on with TTouch. It's a very light touch to help reduce all kinds of stress and stress-related reactions and to increase self-confidence.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014