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 ARTICLES > TTouch > TTouch Tips
  TTouch  Article:
Article By: Eugenie chopin        Publish Date: 2007-01-26

Rescuing a Staffie Running from Fireworks on New Yearís Eve
by Eugenie Chopin

Well, the year started with a Bang Ė yes those dreaded Fireworks for many pet owners. I personally took a very scared but sweet Staffie to the Randburg SPCA at 1 a.m. in the morning. I had been at a gathering when the dog showed up, walked inside and did NOT want to leave. So I started my year TTouching a strange dog, which seemed to relax with lots of ear work and Abalone Circles on the Body.  When we train our Practitioners, one of the main things we discuss is the need to keep the Practitioner safe with dogs they donít know this Staffie was a good example.

Because all dogs are potentially biters, we learn to look for the signs that the dog might be ready to have a nip. Itís not necessarily the big assertive dogs that do this; it is often the nervous scared dogs Ė the ones lacking in confidence. If a dog is very scared, the sympathetic nervous system kicks in and the dogs literally goes into what we call Fight, Flight or Freeze mode. At this time, the dog isnít thinking or making rational decisions; it is simply reacting to a situation. The pulse rate will go up, cognitive thinking goes out of the window and in many cases; the dog canít eat because the body has gotten ready for fighting or fleeing. Of course there are different levels of this, but thatís some basics.

Therefore when faced with a Strange dog that goes into a strange house and hides behind a chair, I am certainly going to approach that dog with care. I started by approaching gently, slowly and from the side (never approach a strange dog head on Ė they might find it confrontational). Also talking gently and calmly helped the dog know I wasnít going to hurt it. The Staffie stayed still while I started with a few strokes and some ear work, being careful not to lean over her, but simply reaching out.  She was a bit in a freeze mode so I wasnít sure if she was really tolerating me or just stuck. However, I persisted with the bodywork and she stopped trembling (which she had been doing) and seemed more relaxed. Only then did we get some biltong and she if she would eat (Iím convinced she would not have earlier, during the trembling stage). She did take the food and I tried to get her to move a bit by laying the biltong out just out of her reach. I helped her by lifting gently her tummy, as she didnít really want to get up! I managed to get her halfway across the room, but she balked when we got nearer the door. She definitely did not want to go out into the Fiery Night!

By this time we had decided we needed to take her somewhere sheíd be safe for the night. She had already growled at the resident dog and the cats were getting curious and starting to get too close. She seemed a sweet dog, but as you may know, if a Staffie goes for another animal, it is sometimes hard to get them to let go, so I didnít want to take any chances.

AT this time, I asked if there was a man around who would pick up the dog and carry her out to the car. What can I say? No volunteers! So eventually I picked up the dog myself and carried her to the car. I later heard that everyone thought I was being very brave! The truth is that by this time, I had assessed the dogs body language, etc. and was about 98% sure she was OK being handled. (Always a small risk factor for a dog you donít know).

Are you asking what were the signs? Letís go through them as I saw it that evening:

  • No unnatural dilatation of the pupils (considering it was night)
  • No whale eye Ė whites of the eye showing
  • A soft face Ė no extra tension around the mouth area
  • I had done quite a bit of TTouch on her by this time so had touched her body all over
  • I had lifted her hindquarters in order to help her get moving by herself.
  • She had actually moved a few Meters on her own, so wasnít in total freeze.
  • She had taken and eaten Biltong, so was not totally on Fight or Flight mode.
  • Listened to my Instincts that she was Fine to handle.

And she was absolutely fine! I put her in my car and took her to the Randburg SPCA, where they had someone on duty just to accept animals 24/7 during this period. Well done to the SPCAs for this service!

She is now home with her family, which I understand includes 7 dogs! I hope sheís happy and with Owners who will be more diligent next time!

Eugenie Chopin is a TTouch Practitioner for Companion Animals, Level 3

© 2006 TTouch - eugenie@ttouch.co.za.   All Rights Reserved.