Friday, May 27, 2011

Books of the Month

I'm home sick today, so I took advantage of the brief periods of time that being upright didn't make me nauseous to post.;0) I've been a big slacker on my monthly topic goals for the blog, and now that's it's practically the end of the month, I thought it prudent to try to work on them a little bit.

The first dog related book that I chose for Book of the Month for May is an older copy of "The Tellington TTouch" by Linda Tellington-Jones. There has since been a newer version released, but I didn't realize that at the time that I bought it. I think we've all heard bits and pieces about TTouch, but full understanding of what it is is spotty. My friend Shana is a TTouch practitioner and a few years ago when she was getting her certification (I believe), she put a message out about needing to work on a few different animals to gain experience. Naturally I piped up and volunteered Heffner, since some of the noted benefits are that it can help to calm stressed animals. At the time, Shana explained to me what she was doing and the benefits, but I didn't really get it or what it was trying to accomplish. It wasn't until I read the book that I finally really GOT what she was saying and what she was trying to accomplish.

The author explains the very beginnings of the TTouch method and how it evolved. She worked very closely with horses and so the first animal recipients of her methods were of the equine variety. Later through the years she had the opportunity to work on a wide variety of animals that literally stretched across the breadth of animals that you can find in a zoo. Right down to a snake!

The story of how her life got her to a point where she developed this method is really interesting to read. Along with the anecdotal stories of the various animals that she's worked on (which I LOVED), how she initiated contact with them, and which TTouches were appropriate for each animal and their situation. It all comes together to make for a very compelling book! Compelling enough that I actually contacted my friend Shana after reading it, to see about having her come out and go over the movements and body wraps with me (I believe that the body wraps are in the newer version of this book) now that I actually get what she was doing.

The Tellington TTouch is a way of connecting with the animals on a cellular level to help relieve the many symptoms that come about from stress. Whether it be behavioral problems or physical manifestations of too much stress, there's something in there that I believe can help everyone in some way. It's not a method that will necessarily garner you immediate results necessarily, but it's something that you can work at over time to help your dog deal with stressful situations a little better. With less stress comes better overall health. And who doesn't want their dog to be happy and healthy?!;0)

The last section of the book is a break down of the techniques. Everything from the amount of pressure you should use to the size of the circle. Included are the various TTouches with illustrations.

It's a great book and did a great job of getting me excited and interested in the topic! Plus, it was just fun to read.:) You can pick the used version of this older copy up relatively cheap. Finding used copies of books is becoming one of my favorite things to do!
My second Book of the Month for May is "The Danes of Send Manor" by Robert Heal. While not exactly a breed history book, it's a book about the history of one kennel. It's also interesting to note that the author is a breeder, exhibitor, and judge of great danes.:)

The story revolves around Gordon Stewart, the founder of the Send kennel great danes. The events take place in England in the early 1900's. This is back in the day when large kennels of hundreds of dogs were not horribly uncommon. Something that you would be hard pressed to find today.

Gordon Stewart was an interesting man. He wanted to have and breed the finest great danes. His staff of kennel maids who saw to the needs of the dogs all day long, was sizable. The accommodations in which he housed his entire kennel were also sizable, as you can imagine for a peak number of 500 great danes living in one area. The means by which he went through to garner fame for his kennel was also interesting.

Stewart had many famous friends. Those who were part of the royal family as well as those who were famous actors and actresses. It was not uncommon for him to invite these people out to his estate to demonstrate the feats of his dogs. While the dogs were expected to understand basic obedience skills, they were also taught a variety of tricks. Such as jumping over the backs of many of their room mates.

Stewart was active in showing his danes and obviously had the kennel help for such a feat. Thwarting his dreams of having the top winning great danes was Bill Siggers of Ouborough Kennel. For the longest time it seemed that Stewart was always one step behind Siggers' kennel. His dogs were winning quite as much Siggers' were. When Stewart went abroad to try and buy up the finest great danes that he could find to add to his breeding program, he was beat to it many times by Ouborough Kennels. After what seemed liked much angst at always being one step behind, he took his danes in a different direction.

Instead of competing in conformation quite so much, he focused more on the training of his dogs. Dogs of his breeding were included in various movies and garnered much fame through their "acting" abilities. This was a venue where Stewart and his kennel shined!

As the war drew nearer, Stewart's focus switched from the dogs to aiding the war efforts. The kennel numbers dwindled until he lost interest all together and his dogs were given to whomever could take them. The Send Kennels finally winked out of existence.

The book is a fascinating story about the daily kennel life of these famous dogs as well as the eccentricities of the Gordon Stewart. I found it very enjoyable and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the breed.

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