The magic touch
AMY MILLER/TIMES NEWS Rose Reese sits with her dog, Maggie, who is one of her success stories using the TTouch system.
Rose Reese always instilled in her family the importance of following their dreams.
But it wasn't until her granddaughter, Kayla, gave her a gentle push, that she realized she needed to take her own advice.
"My granddaughter told me 'Nana, you're not following your dreams'," Reese recalled. "I said 'yes I am' and she said 'No, you want to work with animals and you're not doing it now.' I immediately thought if I need to stress the importance of dreams, maybe I should finally follow mine."
Now, five years later the Jim Thorpe native is working toward her dream of helping animals in need of love and care.
Following that conversation with her then 9-year-old granddaughter, Reese began searching for an online course to become certified in animal training. She enrolled in the Animal Behavior College, where she completed five months of book work, 10 hours of volunteering with an animal shelter and 18 weeks of hands-on training with a mentor trainer. She is now certified as an ABC trainer, which helps people train their companion animals, but that wasn't the fulfillment she was looking for.
"When I found out that this would be just teaching sit, stay, and come, it wasn't what I wanted," Reese said, noting that she observed underlying behavior situations in animals that couldn't be changed using this type of training. "I thought there has to be more to this whole thing. I heard of Linda Tellington-Jones' TTouch system so when I saw she was coming to Maryland, I set out to see what she has to offer."
Reese noted that during the first seminar with Tellington, she knew this was the dream she wanted to follow.
The TTouch system, which is taught globally, was designed by the Tellington family and uses the touch of a person's hand on an animal's skin to change the behavior of the animal. It has been used since the early 1900s to help animals of all sizes from horses to leopards and dogs, cats and birds when behavioral issues arise.
Reese, who used dogs as an example, explained that if a dog shows aggression, there are reasons, such as pain and fear, for that behavior.
"You have to change that behavior before they can settle," she said.
Reese enrolled to become a TTouch-certified practitioner for Northeast Pennsylvania.
The course takes six full-week intervals at various training locations throughout the country. Each session teaches students the various motions, such as the clouded leopard, and how they help connect with the animal.
Reese, who will finish the courses and become a certified practitioner in September, equates the touch she learned through the system as looking at a clock face. You take your fingers and begin at the six, moving clockwise until you complete one full circle. You then continue to the nine and then move to another spot. You also apply only a slight amount of pressure, enough to move the skin but not dig into it.
"If it is done correctly it is all a cellular motion," she said, adding that the tempo of each motion is dependent on the animal.
The art of the touch is not massage, Reese noted, explaining that it is moving the skin, rather than massaging the skin.
Areas that help with calming the animal include the snout, face, gums and ears.
She stressed that it is also important to breathe naturally and visualize what you want the animal to do because the animal can sense what you are feeling.
She used her dog, Maggie, as an example of a success story using the TTouch system.
Maggie, or Margo as she was formerly named, was a small breed dog that many feared would need to be euthanized due to her aggressive behavior and lack of socialization with others.
She arrived at the Jim Thorpe Pet Center in October 2011, but would not allow anyone to come near or touch her.
After three weeks, the owners of the Pet Center were able to come close enough to touch her, and they realized that the sense of touch helped alleviate this dog's fears.
That's where Reese came in.
During her first visit, she held Margo close, allowing her the ability of feeling herself against a human.
As the weeks went on, Reese continued to work with Margo, first completing a body wrap on the canine to let her regain the sensation of her being; then using the various TTouch motions along her body and head to create a calming sensation.
Over the next several months, Reese worked with Margo, socializing her to other animals in the hopes of finding her a good home.
"At the time, no one was interested so I took her to my home to see how she would be with other dogs and she melted in," Reese said, adding that by April, Margo, now renamed Maggie, moved into her forever home with Reese.
In addition, Reese also works with the Carbon County Animal Shelter, helping to evaluate new dogs that arrive to see where they are on a socialization scale.
Currently, Reese is available to help all pet owners whose animals are showing negative behaviors, such as excessive barking, chewing, aggression or fear.
"I feel it is important to go to the people's homes where the incident is taking place," she said. "If you take the dog out of their environment, you will get a total different behavior. I found if you go into their home, they are in their natural habitat where the behaviors are common."
During the visits, Reese begins by evaluating the animal while talking to its owner and watching its behavior.
"If you respect the animal, they will respect you," she added. "We work to create a relationship and if you can do that, then you will get a positive response."
For more information on the TTouch system, visit http://www.ttouch.com.
To contact Reese, email her at reesestrainingfromtheheart@yahoo. com.