TTouch® Training at Best Friends Animal Society
Easter morning at Best Friends
by Kären Rasmussen, TTouch practitioner
Sunny but cold last April, I held my steaming mug of coffee at Angles Rest. The red clay cliffs danced with sunlight and I watched the shadows shimmer off the rocks onto the memorial head stones. Here I was in Kanab Valley Utah at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary dressed in my favorite TTouch sweatshirt and fleece vest. But how did I get to the largest no kill animal sanctuary in the United States for this week filled with incredible animals and people?
When I became a TTouch practitioner, I had an idea that volunteering at Best Friends would be a great way to see this Sanctuary and share the beauty of the TTouch work. I wanted to learn from this wonderful group of animals and staff and offer what I might have to them. I had been a donating member of the Sanctuary for awhile, but how about putting my hands where my donations went? I worked with Cathie Myers, Director of the Best Friends Humane Education and in a wink of an eye and a wag of the tail we had a plan! I would travel out to Best Friends and spend a week working with different animals and giving workshops to the staff.
What started as a “what if” idea turned into a reality. From Dog Town to Cat World to Feathered Friends to Horse Haven and then the Triple “R” Rabbit Retreat, there were over 1,500 animals that had found a place in Southern Utah to call home until, hopefully, they would be adopted. I held 10 workshops in 5 days and had the joy of TTouching everything from burros to potbelly pigs to antelope squirrels to ducks and goats. Included in my workshops were dogs, cats, bunnies and horses of every size and color with every physical and behavioral challenge imaginable. But no matter where I was or what staff or animal I was working with, the basic TTouch philosophy, approach and Touches were effective everywhere. Whether demonstrating Clouded Leopards on the mules, feather strokes on an irritated rabbit, use of tools on a neurologically damaged cat or Llama’s on a nervous dog, “The Work works.”
The staff members at Best Friends are among the most experienced animal care professionals anywhere and they were so open and receptive to learning and trying TTouch. I loved hearing their stories after a workshop on what they tried and the great results. These hard working people “walk the walk and talk the talk” of true compassion for all spirits. Angles Rest is their on-site Memorial Garden for the cremated remains of beloved animal companions from all over the world. I walked among so many headstones decorated with a favorite leash, toy, picture or poem. It’s at Angels Rest that I sat with my coffee and came up with a plan to bring Best Friends and TTouch together for Foundation trainings. There are wind chimes hanging here to commemorate the spirits of animals, and it said when the wind blows and the chimes ring the spirits are with you. It was here that I heard the chimes and knew this was the right place to be.