Jazz's Holiday

Jazz's family took her to the Florida coast for Christmas. This was a first with her little brother, Nestle; but Jazz's second time to the quiet beaches. Jazz stayed in a little cottage on Cape San Blas; called Whispering Pines. They like doggies there and the beds were soft (compared to hotel beds - where Jazz preferred the floor!).
Here's Jazz taking a break from some beach romping to pose with her Mom.

Nestle found a dead Horseshoe crab!

"Must investigate, but no touchie! "

Jazz, Nestle & Kat on Cape San Blas.

Pretty lady enjoying the beach.

Happy Holidays



Little Jazzie has had a busy September! She hasn't gotten into her newly assigned classroom for pet therapy this school year (as yet) .... red tape can take so long. In the mean time Jazzie has been gracious enough to assist me in my two-year training to becoming a Telling Touch practitioner. Even the well behaved lady that Jazz is, she has benefited from the experience; physically, emotionally and behaviorally.

This is Jazz and Nestle at our TTACT (Tellington Touch Animal Companion Training) session two weeks ago. Sound asleep, but clearly demonstrating Jazz's left leg resting at a steep upward angle. Because she sleeps like this naturally, Nestle's nose is probably providing some gentle support to this unnatural body position. She's since been receiving regular Ttouches to the area and now rests with legs comfortably on the floor, rather than poking up like a broomstick.

Here's my two "golden girls" Jazz and daughter, Sarah, at an annual pet blessing in Oak Ridge, TN this afternoon. They won the "look alike" contest, the large pet-themed tin containing treats, toys and goodies. Lovely girls!

Separate Ttouch blog



Nail trimming

Experience speaks that the chore of nail trimming is a weekly job, on average. Health care is an important part of caring for a fur-friend and the nails are no less important than the daily meal. If allowed to grow out too long the proper alignment of the body is thrown out of line, from the fingers & toes, up the legs and effecting the back. Elongated nails can damage floors, furniture, and tear & bruise skin.

A contented relaxed dog for nail trimming doesn't happen overnight. It can happen progressively quickly with just a few minutes of practice every few days until the nails are where they need to be, or they need to rest for a week because they're as short as they can safely go (close to the quick).

Your tool of choice is a cordless Dremel, an electric sanding tool, sort of like a nail file set on "super grind". It's quick and easy to use, it doesn't leave any sharp edges on the nail, it doesn't cause physical discomfort to you or the dog, and is extremely difficult to trim the nail too short; the dog simply won't let you. All that's required is a calm, content dog and that begins with a calm, content you.

Breath. Breath deep and through the heart area. Relax with your dog in an area that's comfortable for both of you and well lit. Let your dog "meet" the Dremel ("the grinder"). You are the calm, you're driving this train.... gently. Turn it on, away from the dog but where he can see it. Talk to him, keep breathing, use your free hand to gently pet him like a gentle massage.

Once your dog is calm with the grinder running, continue to do so while handling his feet. If your dog refuses to have his feet touched, held, manipulated, .... you'll be checking back in a few days to get special instruction.

It's completely normal for a dog to jerk, jump or pull away at the first contact of the Dremel on a toenail. It feels freaky! Breath. Calm. Some dogs may need gentle constraint, but continue to lavish love, good energy, gentle massage, calming voice. YOU, the human, knows this process is painless, gentle and kind and it's you who needs to convey this to another species.

If that's as far as you get the first time, that's just fine. That's a huge positive step for your pup. Be grateful for this huge leap of trust and faith that your dog has made. Drop it for a day or two.
If your dog will let you continue, just make a brief grind on as many nails as he'll let you and call it a raving success. The goal is accept, no to conquer; to teach, not destroy.

Don't expect to get those nails down to size the first few sessions and be sure to leave a couple days in between sessions so the nail can adjust and the muscle memory can do its magic. It may take a couple of months before the whole exercise is acceptable to your dog, and that's just fine. You, the human, are learning, too. In no time you'll both be nail grinding experts.

Personally, I almost always forget to have my reading glasses on hand and can't see the details for the job to my liking. Since I choose to do the nail grinding exercise after the weekly bath and dogs are wet, escaping to get those glasses isn't really an option. There's a solution that works wonderfully. Your fingers of the non-grinding hand hold and steady the toenail. Feel the nail as you work and learn how that nail feels when it's trimmed correctly. This also helps catch any missed sharp spots as you're not relying on just your eyes.

Ttouch Update
Touch therapy blog entries can now be followed at: katsdogs2002.blogspot.com
Jazz's therapy dog blog remains just that... therapy oriented.


Sweltering Summer

Jazz, "keeping it cool" on the family couch

July 1st our 25 year old (or older!) air conditioner finally decided it had had enough of this life and gasped it's last breath. No biggie, we thought. We'll just price out a replacement. August 1st rolled around and having discovered that replacement AC units cost nearly as much as a NEW CAR.... we put in a window unit to ease our discomfort during this transitional period, which just happened to be one of the hottest summers on record!

School began August 2nd and quickly thoughts of pet therapy came to mind. Jazz visited with my son's 5th grade class last year. This year finds our boy in middle school. To our joy and anticipation, the same middle schools' special needs class is looking for pet assisted therapy. My heart sings! When I began with pet assisted therapy back in the early 1990's, my first facility was an in-patient psychiatric unit at Children's Hospital. I LOVED IT! Sadly, heath care changed, parents could no longer afford the high out-of-pocket expense for the psyche unit and it eventually closed. .....Since my son is a "special needs" kid, though Jazz wouldn't visit *his* class specifically, we would be nearby and *could* drop in.... this delights him and all adults involved in his well being.

Jazz continues to enjoy her regular Ttouch sessions which have expanded into learning to swim. Although Jazz has yet to go in the water on her own, she accepts her new life vest and being in the water fully aided by yours truly with no trembling nor freezing up. A huge step in progress! Considering few of our dogs have learned to swim "at home", being that our lake access has no shallows for doggies, it' 5' at the sea wall, this is a major hurdle for Jazz. I have also been going gentle Ttouchs around her eyes, lips, ears, nose and cheeks which has helped ease the emotional scars from possibly being hit in the head as a puppy. Her eyes are more even and balanced and will open equally now. Such a gentle soul is she, that it is nice to see her blossoming and becoming more content within her own skin. I am eager to see how her pet assisted therapy goes after such a beneficial summer break.

Fleas and ticks have been horrid this summer. Jazz switched to "Comfortis" for her critter control and happily it has worked flawlessly! No muss, no fuss but oh-so pricey! Well worth the expense for service animals as there's no monthly "oil slick" on the shoulders and no lag period just before the next monthly dose, nor the "no bath" phase surrounding dose time.

Jazz Sez: Remember humans: Doggies sunburn, too. Lighter skin under thin hair will burn (think of those pink noses). Human sunscreen carefully applied to the muzzle area works great. For the rest of the body, look for a livestock (equine) spray that contains sunscreen, it'll also keep dark coats from sun bleaching. Most livestock sunscreen sprays are a combo sun/bug spray.... this is a plus.

Doggies get poison ivy, too. They'll either carry the oil home on their coat to share with their humans... or where the hair is thin (tummy) they'll develop a slight rash. Benedryl ointment helps relieve the itch, but it sure is messy on a dog! I prefer to bathe an allergy sufferer in good old fashioned lye soap. Lye soap was a medical product before it became a general purpose skin cleanser. Use it for bug bites, poison ivy, etc. You're skin will say, "Aaaahhhh". Keep some Jewelweed salve around too, for those fresh bug bites that drive you crazy. ... Find it all from our friends at The Soap Shed.


Expanding our Universe

And a new journey begins. There comes a time only once in a great while when a dog inspires a human and the human travels forward down a new path as a result of this fine dog. My dominant, ill tempered, 117 pound Doberman inspired me to learn dog training and I then become a dog trainer. My first “obedient” dog inspired me to compete in obedience trials. My second well educated dog inspired me to teach and compete in agility. Jazz has inspired me to delve deeper.

I first heard of this special sort of “calming touch” in the early 1990's when I was actively competing in the local dog shows and teaching classes here and there. I was comfortably embedded within the local “dog community”. This was during the embryonic stage of what has become The Internet, where education is only a few clicks away. No one seemed to know anything about this magical "touch" and no one seemed to believe that radical change could come from touch. It faded away over time to the back of my mind, rising again 15 years later thanks to the living breathing world encyclopedia, The Internet.

I found it.

I found Ttouch.

I never do anything quickly, it seems, when it comes to big things. I meditated on this quite a bit, once I had discovered it last summer (2009). I read a lot of the background, theory, and application of this method from its earliest inception. It made sense. It made complete sense. I meditated some more. Then, I began trying it a bit and to my complete shock and delight, it seemed to be working precisely as described! “Holy cow, I've got something going on here. I've got to explore this thing further.”

I committed myself to a one day workshop with the founder, Linda. What better way to get a feel for this practice by getting a hands-on from the one who truly lives and breaths it. Nestle was my dog of choice for the workshop as he has more challenging issues than the dear lady Jazz.

The workshop was a "slam dunk" for me and an amazing experience with Mr. Nestle. I've committed myself to become a small animal Ttouch practitioner. Over the coming months both little dogs will share going through the training. I begin the first seminar in the fall.

Undoubtedly, the workshop with Mrs. Tellington-Jones was a magical experience helping cement a basis for successfully practicing Ttouch. Nestle indeed experienced a change which continues to blossom with continued Ttouch sessions. Jazz has come to politely demand her regular sessions and is beginning to learn to swim, the heat is quite the inspiration to get wet!

Amazing experience thus far.


Time to order Lie Soap

Spring is here at last and greenery is springing forth with vigor! That means poison ivy and poison oak is up, and soon to follow will be chiggers, mosquitos and all sorts of wonderous things that will cause our delicate skin irritation during this delightful and long awaited season of outdoor enjoyment.

Even our own dog friends can experience poison ivy rashes. My Mother used to get vicious poison ivy rashes from oils on the dogs' fur. It's not fun for anyone, but there are things we can do that don't require chemicals that can be licked off, or stain our clothing.

Lye soap was originally known as a medicine rather than a cleanser. It was and still is a good way to treat skin rashes, chigger bites, poison ivy, poison oak, mosquito bites, athlete's foot, chicken pox and other skin irritants. True lye soap has no artificial ingredients, perfumes, chemicals or coloring. Lye soap is made from water, lye and lard.

Lye soap is also a ideal for bathing skin as well as hair. It serves as a fantastic "stain stick" for soiled clothing prior to washing.

I first learned about lye soap and all these great benefits over a year ago. So, I swore to try it exclusively for an extended period of time before singing any praises. I have used it exclusively in that year and I must say that it does indeed work! Only recently did I get a small patch of poison ivy on my arm and leg because I bathed with a commercial soap that night after gardening rather than with my lye soap.

Jewel Weed salve is also an excellent topical ointment for mosquito bites and other skin irritants. It's no Benedryl, but I won't freak out when the dog licks it off.

My fav use of Lye soap.... a hot soak in the tub with that bar of soap making the water all milky. My skin loves it.

Get the real deal from our friends up on the Blue Ridge Parkway, "The Soap Shed". Tell 'em Jazz sent ya..... They won't have a clue what you're talking about ... .. it'll be fun. :-)


School Days

Jazz joined a 5th grade classroom this school year where she makes a weekly visit during reading time. As her human, I am delighted to report how very much Lady Jazz enjoys these delightful young lads and ladies! Of course, Jazz will at times succumb to her shy demeanor, but all in all she is always excited and delighted to be there and share time with her young friends.

It is a treasure to see Jazz settle comfortably near her reader and quietly shut her eyes as she is soothed by their calm vocal cadence as they read to her. It is also a delight how much the students enjoy sharing this time with Jazz. It would be such a gift is she could spend more time with them!

A special treat for Jazz and for her boy, William, is that this is *his* 5th grade class that she visits. This was by special arrangement and has worked out quite well for all involved. Jazz's boy is mildly autistic, and she can be a wee bit shy.... so meeting in this particular setting is a delight for both.

Jazz wishes to share that we treated her to a trip up to the snow this past weekend:
It was late in the day so we dared not travel too far up the mountain. This was taken at 3,000' elevation where there was several inches of snow and the road slushy. Jazz pranced around with unbridled delight (but is always willing to cop a nice pose for the camera)! This weekend we will hope to make it to the top (6,000') where the snow is told to be over 3'!