Monday, 01 February 1999
Published in the Oakland Zoo Docent Newsletter,
TTouch, you will ask. What is that? Also called the Tellington TOUCH, it is a therapeutic technique that promotes healing, training and communication through clockwise circular movements of the hands or fingers over the body of an animal. The intent is to improve cell function by awakening cellular intelligence and stimulating connections between the brain and the body.
Elke with Donna
This gentle method honors animal intelligence, creates space for thought, and assists the animal in learning to think about its choices. TTOUCH is effective in releasing fear, restoring confidence, building trust, changing undesirable habits or behavior, easing pain, and speeding up the healing of wounds, injuries, or ailments. TTOUCH is mindful, allowing you to open your heart and speak with your hands.
As a massage therapist for 15 years, I work with touch in many ways. The advent of TTOUCH more than ten years ago moved me profoundly. It was originally developed for use on horses and was instrumental for me in opening new doors of communication with my dear mare, Elektra. The TTOUCH seemed to benefit her greatly; she rarely needed a veterinarian.
Now I like to use TTOUCH on another species I love, the magnificent elephant. A master of tactile sensitivity, the elephant naturally knows how to "stay in touch." For two years, I have been visiting the elephant barn at the Oakland Zoo, TTOUCHING Donna and M'Dunda, and lately Smokey and Lisa as well. I work on their feet, tail, and head—around the eyes, ears, tusks, sometimes even a bit on the trunk. Their responses have been various. We've had sessions showiing both extended body relaxation or just some minor signs of it. I've seen them fearful of letting their guard down and I've watched them let go with a general slowing down, stillness, head dropping, eyes closing or blinking slowly, trucks relaxing, muscles softening, responsive sounds, a glazing of the eye, a leaning into my circling hand, an opening or flapping of the ear to give me better access, a deep breath here and there or almost no breath when in a deeper trance state.
Many factors influence a body therapy session. pain or fear held in a certain part of the body, memories of past traumas, noise disturbances, tension between the animals themselves or simply an animal's mood. Elephants, like people, come in all shades of personality. There is mighty Smokey with his velve-soft touching trunk, warming one's heart instantly. Donna on the other hand can be grabby and pushy. Both have their own tactile way to express tehmselves.
TTouch is for all animals. Besides elephants and horses, I have used it on rhinos, giraffes, cheetahs, snakes, a desert turtle, dolphins, birds, lizards, cats, dogs and last but not least, humans. To find out more, read The Tellington Touch—How to Work with Your Favorite Animal, by Linda Tellington Jones.
For information contact Elke at 831-479-1690 or send email to