When I read Bones Would Rain from the Sky, by Suzanne Clothier, right away I was caught up in the lovely way she relates to dogs and other animals. So I wasn’t really surprised when Linda Tellington-Jones turned up in the book, quite early on (page 37).
I had worked with Linda Tellington-Jones myself. My husband Kelly and I used to have a llama ranch, and we also published books and videos on llamas. After Linda gave a presentation on the Tellington TTouch at a llama conference, she agreed to make a llama video with us about her methods. We did that, and went on to make The Tellington TTouch for Happier, Healthier Dogs and a cat program with her. (The link takes you to the dog program on another website of mine. It’s now in DVD.)
The attentiveness that Linda gave to each animal she worked with impressed me greatly, as did her ability to understand its body language. I had been completely oblivious to the more subtle ways that an animal was holding its body, which indicated emotions such as fear or curiosity. Linda saw these instantly and used them as the basis for a variety of methods she developed, which all together comprise the Tellington TTouch. As we shot the footage for the programs, I saw dogs, cats, and llamas all respond to these touches, often visibly relaxing. Even better, their behaviors and emotions changed. For example, a dog who had been terrified of thunderstorms got over that fear. I followed up a few months later with that dog’s owner, and the dog had remained calm during huge storms.
In short, Linda Tellington-Jones is someone I respect enormously, someone who has created truly effective ways of working with dogs and other animals. So I was very interested when Bones Would Rain from the Sky mentioned her. What would Suzanne Clothier have to say?
Clothier sets the stage by talking about how she was struggling with the training techniques she knew. She found that many of the popular training methods did not lead to a greater sense of joyous connection with the animal. She didn’t know what else to do, so she used the techniques, as gently as she could, and with the determination to keep searching for something better.
That search took her to a bitterly cold horse barn in Maryland one snowy day. Linda Tellington-Jones was demonstrating her methods with horses, the animals she initially developed the TTouch with. Suzanne Clothier describes the scene and what happened. Here’s what she says about the effects on her:
The communication and relationship that I saw between this woman and horse reorganized portions of my brain in such a way that the pieces never again fit together as they had in the past. This elated me only slightly more than it scared me.
She goes on, but I won’t give too much away.