Downeast Dog News

Kritters and TTouch®

By Susan Spisak | Mar 01, 2017

Deb Burk has been a special and regular education teacher for almost three decades, is married, and lives on a farm in Dresden with her “critters” and volunteers with a dog rescue, so it was natural that this spiritual gal founded Kidz and Kritters to assist kids, adults, and animals on a higher level. To complement her holistic offerings, she became certified as a Companion Animal Practitioner 1 in Tellington TTouch, aka TTouch, a four-pronged respectful approach to animal training, healing, and health care that utilizes gentle touches, ground exercises, and equipment.

Deb’s holistic services are geared to bring physical, emotional and spiritual balance. There’s Reiki Healing, where she calls upon universal energy for stress reduction, relaxation, and healing. She uses high quality therapeutic Essential Oils to help the body, human or animal, with health and healing, and as a Companion Animal Practitioner 1 in TTouch, she guides clients through the methods to heal, improve behaviors, reduce stress, and train their own pets. She also offers short workshops on the method.

A friend told Deb about TTouch when she was at the farm consoling her after she lost a beloved rescue dog. She was having trouble with some of her other animals; she has dogs, cats, goats, sheep, chickens, rabbits, and a turkey. “Having a farm, I wanted to know more about [TTouch]. If there’s something I can do to support my animals, that’d be great.”

Deb went to Colorado for the first week of her training journey that included weeks of course work and case studies. She studied under Linda Tellington-Jones, PhD, who founded the method in the 70’s for horses, and later added more techniques for companion animals and humans. She was extremely impressed with Linda and added that she has an amazing group of teachers and practitioners around the world.

TTouch’s extra “T” stands for trust, Deb said and its calming style further intrigued her. “I’m much more organic in how I approach things with my animals, but I needed something that worked,” she shared, adding that traditional approaches aren’t always successful. Benefits of this unique method can include, but aren’t limited to, a reduction in pain, sensitivity and fear, recovery from an injury or surgery, an improvement in negative behaviors such as barking, jumping, separation anxiety, and aggression, and it can provide the animal with an overall sense of well-being.

“There are so many pieces of TTouch,” she explained. First, there’s the gentle overall body work, including the mouth and tail, where circular and specific hand and finger touches, slides (a sliding touch), and lifts are used. There are over twenty touches, utilizing the front and back of the hand, tips of fingers in a straight or curved mode, with speed and pressure changing depending on the goal. “We can get really detailed,” said Deb. These touches are new to the pet, causing him to consider the feeling and relax – they’re not habitual petting motions, nor are they a massage. “They think, ‘Huh, what’s that?’”

There are ground exercises, also referred to as a “Playground for Higher Learning.” It’s a labyrinth of equipment to build confidence, stability, and change behaviors by making the dog focus. Deb may guide them over unusual textures, like corrugated metal, or she may wind them through a “confidence course,” such as a maze of cones, stopping along the way to perform certain touches.

She’ll utilize equipment such as wraps – think nervous dogs that can benefit from being swaddled, or the arthritic that need support – double ended leashes, and harnesses. Deb had a client whose dog was pulling her on walks. Together they worked with the pet using a harness with a front and back clip – the dog was connected in two spots. The dog was balanced, and as a result, gained confidence and learned to walk without pulling.

Lastly, for companion animal owners, Deb said it’s about intent and expectations. “In that we use touches, equipment, wraps, with the intention that their behavior would change, and we’d see the animal in his perfection…We don’t want to see our animals as barkers or pullers.” She added that when a person’s energy changes about his dog, the dog changes.

That’s part of her objective as a practitioner in TTouch. “My job in working with that person is to help him see his animal, how he wants it to be, not an animal with problems.” She wants the client present at the appointment, and prefers to teach him how to do TTouch on his companion animal. She starts by ascertaining what he loves about his animal and what he’d like changed.

Her approach is always the same, “I need to see what’s going on, in the here and now, not dredging up its past.” She shared the case of the cat having accidents all over the house; the owner was upset because her vet wanted to prescribe Prozac. Deb realized the cat was fearful; she did TTouch on his ears as they have several pressure points that alleviate that fear and instills a sense of calm. She also did TTouch on and around his mouth; that area holds emotions.

Another client’s dog had cancer with only six months to live. She told her she’d make her “baby” comfortable with Reiki and TTouch and also used a diffuser filled with Frankincense oil, which supports the reduction of cancerous cells. “You know I don’t know if it changed this dog, but I can tell you that her dog is still alive.” The owner credits Deb with prolonging his life. “So there is a believer,” she laughed.

Deb shared that she had an emergency with her dog Jake; she used TTouch on four points of his ears when it was apparent he was in shock. “I could see him coming back, out of shock and into his body.” They got him to the vet first thing in the morning and discovered he had a tumor on his spleen that was leaking blood. He’s on medication to manage it. “I swear to God, that night TTouch on his ears saved his life.”

She’s been working with her own Lucy, a one-time crazy dog, for over three years. Today she has a totally different temperament, thanks to oils, she uses “Balance” on her tail, the “Tarantula Pulling the Plow” TTouch, its slide motion up the back releases fear, reduces sensitivity, and increases circulation as well as other touches around her mouth and ears. Lucy stands frozen during the routine and has benefitted greatly.

Deb’s practice will continue to concentrate more on animals. She’s glad to be well-versed in Reiki, Essential Oils, and TTouch and that she can offer their benefits to her clients, their pets, her own pets and farm animals. “It’s absolutely amazing…It increases our ability to connect with our animals.” She travels often and has even performed Reiki and TTouch on the stray beach dogs in Costa Rica. “It goes with me everywhere. Critters need it everywhere.”

To learn more about Deb’s offerings, as well as a link to rules on using certain Essential Oils for pets, visit