Cassidy's Journey

Cassidy's Journey

A dog's journey from a kill shelter to a loving family.

Interview with TTouch trainer Elaine Garley

Written By: MimiRosen - Aug• 09•13

Elaine1Elaine Garley, the owner of Animal Bridges: Connecting People and Their Pets, brings out the best in your pet by calming fears, soothing pain, building confidence, and hearing what he says with loving and healing techniques.

For years, Elaine dreamed of combining her love of pets and her relationship-building skills into a career. Her dog, Boomer, lead her to become an animal communicator and a certified Tellington TTouch® Training practitioner. She is also a Healing Touch for Animals® Certified Practitioner. With these gentle, loving skills, Elaine helps you and your pet (all species) with your pet’s challenges including behavior, stress and fears, confidence, aging, injuries and pain, and more!

With this knowledge and her love of people and animals, Elaine looks forward to helping you build a deeper relationship with your pet.

 Q & A with Elaine. 

1) When working with rescues in general, how does TTouch help dogs through fearfulness?

TTouch helps the rescues in many ways. First, the people working with the dogs, cats, or any animal, learn the philosophy of TTouch.

Most rescues come with stories and many of these stories are not great. I find it is a wonderful time for guardians of rescues to use the TTouch philosophy of “change your mind, change your dog.” I always ask the new fosters/guardians, “What do you love about your pet?” It is so easy to focus on the fear, barking, and other unwanted behaviors. Instead focus and image what behavior you want! For me this shift was life changing! My dog and I became stronger partners without force or fear. Our trust for each other grew.

Second, the rescues learn new ways of carrying their body (posture) and become more aware of their body. How does this happen?  With TTouches to her tail, a fearful dog whose tail is tucked tightly between her legs, learns a new way of holding her tail. After the TTouches, her tail is relaxed away from the body and maybe wagging. She just learned a new way of holding her tail. Her posture changed and it affects her behavior.

Overall TTouch teaches a dog confidence, new body awareness, and there are choices to life’s activities instead of reactions.

2)During our session you had suggested using the mouth and ear TTouches for reducing Ripple’s insecurities, but she is head-sensitive and does not like having her mouth touched. What are ways that I can help her to get used to this interaction?

I suggested these TTouches because Ripple maybe holding tension in these areas. Often dogs with fear, barking, chewing, and other oral issues, hold tension in these areas. Ripple displays a reaction I often see in dogs. She doesn’t want these areas touched!

There are several ways you can help her. Be sure you are relaxed. Exhale and breathe. Soften your eyes and your entire body.

Now slowly start the gentle, slow touches on her shoulder or wherever she lets you. Then slowly move up her neck. Take a break. Then start again maybe on her neck with a few touches moving towards the top of her head. Stop the session. Yes, the session can be only a few minutes.

The next session maybe 15 minutes later or several hours/days later, you maybe able to start on her neck and move towards her ears. Very little TTouch gives lots of information to Ripple’s body and mind. Your touches are communicating at a cellular level to Ripple’s entire body. She needs time to assimilate it.

Remember to give her a choice. If she decides to walk away or move away, let her. Part of the TTouch philosophy is full cooperation and respect. This means giving Ripple a choice and not forcing her. This was a huge learning for me.

3) Referencing Turid Rugass’ Calming Signals. If Ripple licks her lips or yawns during TTouch, what does that indicate? Why is it important to be aware of such gestures?

Dogs communicate to each other with body language. Turid Rugass states dogs give signals to calm. I don’t know if they are calming themselves or trying to calm others.

For example, as a stranger walks up to you and Ripple, Ripple may yawn and look away from the person. You know she isn’t tired because she slept all morning. She may also start sniffing the ground for no reason.   Ripple is using calming signals to say either “I’m a little nervous and am trying to calm myself” or “I’m okay.” The calming signals need to be observed in the current situation. For example, Ripple sniffing all of a sudden may be because you just walked by a area with great smells, or it may be a calming signal.

So how does this apply when you are doing TTouch to Ripple? If Ripple starts licking her lips, turning away from you, lifting a paw, or giving any of the calming signals, it may be time to give her a break. Or maybe more to an area of her body that is more comfortable for her. Also exhale (my favorite advice)! Remember you may be concentrating so hard on doing the touches that you are staring at her and making her uncomfortable and also holding your breathe. Then everyone needs a small break.

A session can last 5 minutes and provide lots of information for the dog to process. So please watch for the calming signals.

4) How can TTouch be used to counter Ripple’s excitement when guest come to call?

Since you started using TTouch on Ripple, each of these sessions helps her be calmer when company comes. Be sure you have a picture of how you want her to behave before the company comes. Remind Ripple with the word “easy” instead of saying “no jump.” Maybe before the company arrives, accessorize her with a TTouch Body Wrap or ThunderShirt and give her a wonderful toy to chew. Even a gentle stroke down her back with “easy” can help her be more confident and less hyperactive.

5) Can TTouch be used to help Ripple become less fearful of unfamiliar dogs? If so how?

Yes, TTouch is a wonderful method to help Ripple be less fearful of unfamiliar dogs. All the techniques we reviewed in the session are very helpful.

When you first see the other dog, quietly talk to her. Reassure her that she is safe. Give her lots of distance when she sees other dogs. This may mean crossing the street or turning around to move away from the other dog. Be sure you are relaxed and exhale. Quietly talk with her as you first see the dog. Reassure her that she is safe. I recommend the two points of contact method used in TTouch. The Freedom Harness uses the two points of contact and is available with great directions.  Most importantly walk with Ripple at your side with a loose leash, and be calm.

There are several different TTouch techniques to help dogs to walk confidently using two points of contact including the Freedom Harness. Another arrangement includes a head collar and a harness. The set-up depends on each dog’s individual needs.

If you have a TTouch practitioner in your area, she can take you through the process of using the TTouch labyrinth. The practitioner would mindfully walk Ripple through the labyrinth. Then the practitioner would introduce another calm dog labyrinth using a specific method. It is important that the process is done at Ripple’s comfort level. She should never become excited.

6) Is there anything else would like to add?

Tellington TTouch is a wonderful method of working with animals that changed my life and my relationships with all animals — even humans! Linda Tellington-Jones developed TTouch with horses and started applying it to all species companion animals to animals kept in captivity. Now TTouch being used for people! It helps with fear, pain, builds confidence, and body awareness.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions of how I can help you and your pet live their best life! For a free 10-minute consult, email me with the best times to call you and your phone number.

Animal Bridges

Freedom Harness  link

Elaine’s email [email protected]

Tellington TTouch website


Interview with Mary Ellen Tidwell from Crossing Paths Animal Rescue

Written By: MimiRosen - Jul• 12•13

I’m at a workshop this weekend, and couldn’t get my post up. For those of you who don’t know Cassidy’s story, please check out this archived interview with Mary Ellen, the amazing woman who pulled Cassidy from the kill shelter.


Mary Ellen is the co founder and president of Crossing Paths Animal Rescue. Crossing Paths is a small group of volunteer men, women and families who work tirelessly to give death row animals a chance to live. With the aid of their satellite group Mary Ellen and Pictuare of Penn and Tellerin Yardley, PA, they find southern dogs homes in other areas of the country and arrange to have them transported there. Cassidy is among the many animals that Mary Ellen has personally saved from  the kill shelters.

“I have always been an animal lover,” Mary Ellen said. “[Animals] have no voice and we have done a terrible job in helping them. I wanted to help. I know many think killing them is the answer. If they are seriously ill or a danger, then [euthanasia] should be used, but not on young, adoptable dogs and cats.”

Crossing Paths has pulled over 800 plus animals from the shelter from which Cassidy had been saved. Mary Ellen and the other fosters are all volunteers working for change in Blount county, Alabama.

Mary Ellen is also a grandmother of 3 lovely girls, ages 6  to 22.

1) On that day when you rescued Cassidy, what were you feeling when you arrived at the shelter?

Helpless, frustrated and very overwhelmed. [The kill shelters] are cold, wet and uninviting places. Remember [the animals] go there to die. I wanted to throw up, with all the dogs and puppies that needed help. I wanted to pull as many as I could out. I felt helpless.

2) Why is it that so many animals were in the kill shelter?

[Because of ] not spaying and neutering. There are too many animals. People can’t keep them all.  [Crossing Paths] has started Fix Your Mama. A program [where, if] anyone brings a litter of kittens or puppies into the shelter, we’ll spay the mama cat or dog [of that litter.] We have done thousands of surgeries. We also do rabies [vaccines] and have rolled this program out to anyone that will spay their animals. [Fix Your Mama] has played the major role in reducing the shelter’s intake, and I think the program is now going into its second year. It is all based on donations.

3)Do the people in the shelters make an effort to help rescue groups like yours?

Somewhat, but they could do much more, if they wanted to. Most of the shelters just kill [the animals.] It is so much easier than what we do. We have asked The County to help us. They have yet to make the changes we have requested.

4) What changes have you asked for?

If we don’t get the dog or puppy that day, [the shelter] will not let us mark them, so we can come and get them [later.] They tell us it doesn’t work for them.  I am upset because it should be about helping the animals and not [the shelter.] I have gone to The County. They always let the shelter do what they want..

5) What is it you look for when determining which dogs and cats your group brings out?

Family pets. Ones that show interest in people. There are still many more we can’t get out because of the [limited] number of foster home.

6)When you bring a shelter dog into your rescue, what happens if you can’t adopt it out?

It stays with us until a home comes along. We usually do find a home for the dog. When a dog gets adopted through us, we go into the shelter and get more out. So, not only does that dog get a home, but another one comes off of death row.

7) Is there anything else you would like to add?

[Crossing Paths] started with 13 [dogs] going North and has grown to hundreds going North every year now. We have a long way to go but [through] loving, caring people that step up for change, we can all make a difference. We are always looking for other rescues and partners up North so we can help more.

 Thank you so much taking that leap of faith and adopting a southern dog.

To see the adoptable pets on Crossing Paths website click here:

To read articles about other members of Crossing Paths click here:

Wordless Wednesday: Training helps keep dogs (and people) safe

Written By: MimiRosen - Jul• 10•13





Things that go Boom and our Pets

Written By: MimiRosen - Jul• 05•13

Some dogs don’t mind fireworks. Maybe they’re hunting dogs, or military canines, or they live in a high-volume city, or they just aren’t bothered by loud noises. Those dogs will probably sleep right through the Fourth of July festivities. Then there are dogs like Ripple and Cassidy, that hightail it home at the first pop.

So, with Independence Day booming on the horizon, I’m considering ways of lessening the stress for my furry friends.

A Backyard Event

Every year around this time we have a community cookout in the fields above our house. It starts in the morning with a fishing tournament and culminates with a crackling bonfire in the evening. For our dogs it’s a feast of human attention and hamburgers. They love it. But I’ve learned that it’s best to bring them inside well before our fireworks start. After several years of having our dogs scatter at the first blast I finally got the message. (Did you know that more dogs get lost during Fourth of July than any other holiday?) The high pitch streams that have us all oohing and ahhing as they explode into brilliant displays across the night sky are terrifying to our pets.

Stress can cause accidents

With a dog like Ripple in particular, it’s best not to take her stressors lightly. Especially since we will be having guests up for the weekend. My brother and his crew,DSC_0110 which includes two dogs, will be paying us a visit. While delightful, life will be different for our animals for a few days. We also will have party guests coming in and out of the house to use the bathroom and such on the day of the party- also different. Even if  Cassidy or Ripple have never bitten anyone – which they haven’t – too many changes paired with the frightening experience of fireworks can open the door to an unwanted incident.

Taking preventative measures rarely hurts.

Okay. I admit I’m a worrier and I’d rather take precautions than deal with regret. Mike thinks I go overboard with all the what-if scenarios I have playing in my head, but that has yet to deter me. So, I talked to our vet who gave us some good advice and while the fireworks are in play:

  • Our animals will be given 3 milligrams of melatonin about an hour prior to the event,
  • They will spend the evening in our bedroom, to preclude any unexpected interactions with others,
  • They’ll have their crates available to give them a feel-safe place,
  • And will be listening to the relaxing vibes of Aura via Sirius Radio TV (which they hear during calmer times, because I listen to it while I write,) as well as white noise from our air conditioner, which they are also used to, (It’s important to stick with familiar sources of calm, rather than introducing something new the day of, even if you have to acclimate your dog to the music or white noise source well in advance.)
  • And they will be snacking on Kongs filled with peanut butter and treats, which I will have frozen the night before.

These strategies may help with dogs that have mild to medium reactions to fireworks. If you have dog that displays severe reactions, there are special hormone-releasing collars that your vet can give you, which might help. Also, I’m told that Thunder Shirts or TTouch body wraps can work to reduce anxiety, as long as the dog is already used to wearing them.





Wordless Wednesday – Keep us inside during fireworks

Written By: MimiRosen - Jul• 03•13




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Sometimes Ripple Shines

Written By: MimiRosen - Jun• 28•13

Every now and then Ripple does something that reminds me of DSC_0188what an awesome dog she really is. Usually, this happens when no one else is around to see it. So, I was oh-so tickled when, on an otherwise ordinary evening, both Mike and myself were witnesses to a good-Ripple moment.

It happened in the loft.

I was in my office, which is in our loft, writing a report for work. The cats were on our bed (they sleep like 18 hours a day, so they’re pretty much fixtures on the California King) and the dogs were rough housing near our clutter of ancient gym equipment on the other side of the loft. Mike slid out the Roman chair from the gym, dusted it off, and sat on it, arching all the way back so that his head almost touched the carpet.

“What are you doing?” I asked, thinking he was about to pull an abdominal muscle.

“Stretching my stomach,” he said.

His back had been bothering him. That’s why he was stretching his stomach /:

I decided to teach Mike some safe back exercises.

Not that I’m an expert, but I have worked out to the same Karen Voight’s Pilate Abs and Back routine twice a week for about thirty years. So, I offered to show Mike some back postures that might help his back. It required that we spend a little time on the floor. Anticipating that Cassidy and Ripple would be all over us once we were on their level, I put them in our bedroom – which is an open area that connects to the loft – and told them to lay down, and to stay.

Then I Forgot about them

As Mike and I went through a few exercises, Pebbles decided to jump down from the bed and  show off by doing cat-stretch at our feet. Then, while Mike was doing plank pose, the little gray tiger took the ride down while laying on his back. After that he rolled around on the floor in between us, while Mike and I jabbered about how cute he was. The dogs did well staying throughout the interaction, which was good.

But Mike got a call.

So, I returned to working on my computer, while Mike sat on the step outside our bedroom and chatted with whoever was on the other end of the phone line. When I glanced back, Cassidy was there too, wagging her tail and nose-butting Mike. It took me a second to remember that I had put her  on a stay not five minutes earlier. I figured Ripple had broken the stay as well, and that she’d snuck downstairs without me noticing.

This was of no surprise, as Cassidy was still a pup with poor impulse control, and Ripple’s unofficial nickname was Poor-Impulse Control. (Her official nickname was The Tornado.) It was one of the things we’d continued to work on with her. We’ve done a great deal of obedience work with her too over the years – she’s nearly three – and she knows all the commands. She just doesn’t always listen.


Ripple deserved more credit

When Mike finally finished his call, we did the last few exercises in the routine. Then I shut down my computer. I was intending to bring the dogs through a few practice repetitions of down and release. This is what we were told to do when one of our dogs breaks stay. But then I heard Mike say the word, “Released.” I was surprised. I wondered if he was having a senior moment, so sure was I that Ripple had gotten up and gone down stairs. But she hadn’t. Even though Cassidy was walking around in front of her, Ripple had remained on the down-stay. Which just proves what I said in the first place. Ripple is an awesome dog!

To read more articles about Ripple click to following links: Reactive Dog, The trouble with our Dogs and Recall, Poisoned Cues.




On Cassidy’s Hip Dysplasia: Interview with Dr. Jennifer Goetz

Written By: MimiRosen - Jun• 21•13
Several weeks ago Mike and I learned that Cassidy has Hip Dysplasia.  Our vet said that she would likely display crippling symptoms of this disease within three or four years. Mike and I were devastated. Of course, we looked for options. But  the surgeries available were out of our means. The outlook for our one-year-old Border Collie seemed bleak. Then our vet recommended that we see Dr. Jennifer Goetz of Manlius Veterinary Hospital. After our consult with her, we had short and long term plans and renewed hope.


Dr. Goetz graduated from the Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada in 2003. She purchased Manlius Veterinary Hospital in 2005.

IMG 0300

Dr. Goetz utilizes both conventional and Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine on a daily basis. Dr. Goetz has a profound belief in the integration of healing modalities to affect the lives of her patients in a positive manner. Dr. Goetz believes in an individual, patient-centered approach to veterinary medicine and care. She strives to practice Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) with compassion and in a manner that considers the entire life of the animal and its caretakers, not just the disease.

Healing modalities employed by Dr. Goetz, based on TCVM diagnosis, include:
• Acupuncture
• Tui-na
• Food therapy
• Chinese herbal medications

Q & A

1.  What is Cassidy’s current condition?

Cassidy’s current condition is excellent.  She has a beautiful body condition and ample muscle mass.  She is in the shape of her life!

2.  What is the general prognosis for a dog like her?

Severe Hip Dysplasia

Difficult to say.  Findings on radiographs (x-rays) don’t often correlate with how the dog really feels, so hips and backs that may look terrible may belong to dogs that are only slightly lame, and vice versa. Radiographs are the tool used to identify the underlying anatomical abnormality that will likely cause disease, but aren’t the only indicator of prognosis or disease progression.  In Cassidy’s case, we use the term disease to identify the

buildup of bone that results from instability and inflammation secondary to dysplasia i.e. arthritis.

3.  How can we help her now?

Exercise is absolutely essential to maintain muscle mass, keep joints lubricated and reduce arthritis pain.  Keeping a lean body condition relieves stress on the joints.  Putting Cassidy on a high quality joint supplement  (such as Dasuquin) and essential fatty acids [omega-3]will help to keep her joints lubricated and decrease inflammation. [Vitamin-C was also recommended.] In the case of supplements, quality and cost matter.  [Higher cost means better quality.] All are not created equal.

4.  What is the plan for down the road, when more symptoms may develop?

Luckily we have so many options available for control of pain and inflammation that we didn’t have 15 or 20 years ago.  Acupuncture, chiropractic, laser, and therapeutic ultrasound are key.  Then non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs made especially for dogs.  On top of that we also have other classes of pain killers, injectable joint supplements, Chinese herbals, physical rehabilitation…  The list is very long.

5. If Cassidy’s hip dysplasia wasn’t so severe, it could have gone undiagnosed. What should dog owners look for so that they can detect this condition early?

Sometimes puppies, especially large breeds, will have a survey hip radiograph performed at the time of neutering.  Often times however, hip dysplasia isn’t diagnosed until the dog has begun showing signs of stiffness post exercise, trouble rising, etc.  Some other early signs include dogs that call it quits too early when playing ball, reluctance to run as far, etc.  Anyone concerned should talk to their veterinarian about a hip and lower back radiograph.

6.   Is there anything else you would like to add about the condition?

Just to remind people, that a dog with an OFA  [Orthopedic Foundation for Animals] certification is not a guarantee of the presence of absence of hip dysplasia.  Breeding two dogs with OFA excellent or good hips helps to reduce the chances of hip dysplasia, but is by no means a guarantee.  Also, small breed also are dysplastic at times, so we shouldn’t assume a toy or mini breed will have excellent hips.  Finally, we have so many options available for control of pain and inflammation that no older dog should be living a painful, stiff, immobile life but don’t wait until the dog is so crippled that the owner is contemplating euthanasia.  Early treatment with a variety of modalities will get us a much happier,  mobile, older dog that has a life worth living.


To read another article about Cassidy’s condition please click the following link: A Bump in the Road for Cassidy


Wordless Wednesday: Kitty Power

Written By: MimiRosen - Jun• 19•13




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A Light Dusting of Gratitude

Written By: MimiRosen - Jun• 14•13

Cause I gave you weeds when you asked for flowers

and our cats chase their shadows ‘cross your easy chair,

DSC_0058and our dogs dig craters in your just-seeded lawn.

Did I tell you Cassidy  killed our phonebooks?

Well she did. None were spared.


Cause nose work, behavior mod, and obedience are things you, “just can’t see,”

but still, you go with me.

Cause well vet visits cost 45 dollars,

and sick visits costs much, much more.

And you know that TV console you built by hand?

I guess Cassidy thought it was a chew toy.


Cause a laptop heats my thighs most evenings,

as the dinner table waits, and so do you.

Cause it may seem that blogging about dogs

and writing universes comes before everything.

They don’t. They’re just things I do.


Cause a cute pet photo op can present at

any moment, so I’m always setting up the shots,

and when I talk to you about sub-plots, and my

new petblog community, you kind’a  listen,

and you tolerated my obsession with google analytics.

(About that, I’m still a little shocked.)


So, I thank you my love, for not calling

my passions frivolous, and for emptying

the litter box without complaint,

and for never asking, “But what about me?”

Because this journey is ours – together.

You’re the one who made me believe.





Wordless Wednesday Post: Mike and Pebbles

Written By: MimiRosen - Jun• 12•13


Kittens & Erics Visit 08-05-11 141


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