Temple Grandin and TTouch

  • Singing for ThunderShirt by Special Guest, Sandy Robins

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    I have always been “blessed” with cats that sing in the car. But Ziggy out sings every cat I’ve ever known.

    When we took him home from the animal shelter, I put his vocals down to nerves.

    Not long after, we had to take him to the vet for his kitty shots. The moment we placed him in his carrier, the singing began.

    It started off with a tentative operatic dolcissimo (very sweet) “mew”. Followed by a second and then a third.  As we turned the corner he started scratching on the side of the carrier and the mew got more espressivo (insistent). Then he tried a new tactic and the mews got doloroso (sad and mournful).  From his perspective, he probably thought I wasn’t listening so he began to get more insistenta (insistent) until his vocals turned fortissimo (very loud).

    On the way home, it was a repeat performance. He wasn’t being naughty; he was really just stressed and anxious. Who knows what experiences he had an in a car before we adopted him.

    A few weeks later we were off to the vet again for follow-up shots. And soon Ziggy was singing the same aria. The next week, when it was time for his rabies shot courtesy of the animal shelter, we were back in the car and Ziggy was singing again.

    What was so interesting was the fact that it sounded like the same song.

    Cats in fact have quite a large vocabulary. Author and naturalist Jean Craighead George who writes about the language cats have in her award-winning book The Cats of Roxville Station and has studied cats in nature, says that the different ways in which a cat meows has a special idiosyncratic meaning. She has categorized some feline vocalizations as follows. They are written phonetically to emphasize the different sound and tones:

    In Kittens:

    • Mew (high pitched and thin) - a polite plea for help
    • MEW! (loud and frantic) - an urgent plea for help

    Adult cats:

    • Mew - plea for attention
    • Meow - emphatic plea for attention
    • MEOW! - a command!
    • Mee-o-ow (with falling cadence) - protest or whine
    • MEE-o-ow (shrill whine) - stronger protest
    • MYUP! (short, sharp, single note) - righteous indignation
    • MEOW! Meow! (repeated) - panicky call for help
    • Mier-r-r-ow (chirrup with lilting cadence) - friendly greeting

    Soon I worked out that Ziggy had composed a feline “song”:

    Here are his lyrics:

    Mew…mew…

    MEW!!

    Meow

    MEOW!

    Mee-o-ow

    MYUP! MYUP!

    MEE-o-ow

    MEE-o-ow

    Second verse same as the first.

    So I decided to translate. It goes something like this:

    Hello… Helloow …

    What’s happening here?

    This isn’t fair

    You scooped me out of my favorite chair

    I was a sleep

    What did you think --I wouldn’t make a peep?

    What’s happening now?

    Meeow miaow

    The vet!! Oh No!

    I don’t want to go

    I’m prodded and given a shot

    It calls for a total boycott

    Take me home….

    NOW!!!

    Meow….

    Finally I couldn’t take it anymore. There are always going to be vet visits for one reason or another. So I decided he was the perfect candidate for a feline ThunderShirt.

    I decided the best way to test the shirt was the take him one way to the vet without it and put it on for the journey home.

    I chose a fairly innocuous vet visit, namely, he was simply going for a Mani-Pedi. No needles or prodding involved. I even took Fudge along in the hope that seeing how she behaved would perhaps help him remain calm.

    No such luck. The outward-bound trip was typical – very vocal with Fudge simply staring at him in disbelief that a cat could make so much noise. So just before we popped him back in his carrier, I put him in a ThunderShirt. I reckoned he wasn’t going to have to walk around wearing it so he didn’t need to get used to it from that standpoint.

    On with the shirt, into the carrier and off we went home. It’s a 15-minute drive. And I must say Fudge and I enjoyed it immensely -- in total silence! I don’t say he enjoyed the ride, but he didn’t seem stressed and anxious to get out of the carrier, as was his typical modus operandi.

    I was amazed how it worked instantly. But apart from keeping him calm, it helped me to drive home fully concentrating on the road and not worrying about my feline passenger.

    When we got home, I took off the shirt and placed in his carrier, ready to go for next time.

     

    Sandy Robins  is an award-winning author and pet lifestyle expert.

    Follow her on Facebook here: http://www.Facebook.com/SandyRobinsPetLifestyleExpert

  • Pressure Wraps for Dogs

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    PRESSURE WRAPS FOR DOGS

    What are pressure wraps?

    Many dogs suffer from behavioral issues and mental conditions that arise from fear and anxiety. The pressure wrap is an approach used to modify the behavior of dogs using a technique called “Controlled Pressure” to help calm the sensory receptors. When used properly it has been shown to end fear of loud noises, thunderstorm fear , dog aggression, shyness, nervousness, releasing stress & tension, end jumping, car sickness, unnecessary barking, , sensitivity to touch, sensitive to sound, aloofness, emotional upset, hyperactivity, grooming issues and other anxieties. It is a non-drug treatment for dog anxiety and just like slipping on a shirt. Dogs that display symptoms of anxiety can now be calmed by wearing these pressure wraps.

    Why are dogs afraid of thunderstorms?

    Fear of thunderstorms is common in dogs, and tends to get worse as they age. It is partly genetic. Too many dogs are left outdoors during storms, sometimes with no shelter at all. Anyone would be scared with good reason. Thunderstorms and the accompanying electrical energy disturbs dogs on a level most of us do not understand. The loud noise is scary to some dogs, and the dog can hear it at a much greater distance than humans can. The dog has early audio warning of an approaching storm, and most storm-phobic dogs eventually start reacting long before the sounds are loud. The smell of the air changes when a storm approaches, and of course the keen nose of a dog detects this early. The air pressure changes, too, and a dog's ears are more sensitive to pressure changes than most people. In some cases, it might hurt.

    Phobias generally become worse, not better, with repeated exposures. Dogs with mild noise phobia may look anxious during thunderstorms, tremble, hide under the bed or in the bathtub, and be afraid to go out of doors for hours after the storm has passed.

    How it works?

    The wrap applies slight pressure or maintained pressure across a wide area of the body, stimulating the body's receptors to help in transmitting different sensations to different parts of the brain. When the animal receives this new information, it's awareness & focus can change, resulting in the animal "letting go" of the old sensation and modifying its behavior.

    The Body wrap does the following for most dogs suffering from noise anxiety:

    1. The physical sensation of wearing the wrap distracts the dog from focusing on her fears, and
    2. Being wrapped gives the dog a feeling of safety and comfort.

    Soon after putting on the wrap, your dog will likely settle down and relax. Many dogs will lie down and weather the storms with little to no further symptoms of noise anxiety.

    From a more scientific perspective, according to neurobiologists, many types of traumas can cause nerve damage, leading to dogs having exaggerated responses to stimuli such as loud noises. Applying constantly maintained pressure with the body wrap provides an unchanging, quieting stimulus that allows the dog to relax.

    Temple Grandin and Tellington Touch:

    Two resources have researched the issue on how pressure soothes.The first source is TTouch practitioners. TTouch was developed by Linda Tellington-Jones to help train horses and relax the horse's mind and body. It was eventually adapted for other animals too. It uses a system of specific touches, and stretches to relax the animal, and increase body awareness. Getting in TTouch with Your Dog by Linda Tellington-Jones illustrates many techniques for wrapping an ace bandage around a dog to enhance “your dog's sense of his own body and makes him more confident in his movements and behavior.” One of the tools used to continue TTouch benefits for a longer time is a body wrap.

    The second resource is the famous autism researcher Temple Grandin who was herself an autistic child. Inspired by how cattle calmed down while being gently squeezed in a chute she developed a “hug machine”. As stated by Temple Grandin "after seeing cattle being put into a squeeze chute that held them still so they could get their shots. When I saw how calm the cattle got from the pressure on their bodies, I built my own squeeze machine, and it calmed my anxiety the same way." The hug machine helped maintain constant pressure and proved to be effective in soothing the anxiety of autistic people. On the same lines a pressure wrap is a way to give the maintained pressure and contact that the dog craves for in times of anxiety.

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