Here in Santa Fe, NM at the Tellington TTouch CELLebration I’ve been privileged to be present at a number of awe-inspiring presentations highlighting the variety of applications of Tellington TTouch in therapeutic settings around the world.
Four action-packed days of interactive animal activities and multi-media presentations have my head spinning with new ideas. Luckily, there has been time to squeeze in some socializing with many folks I’ve previously known only via teleconference and email, and to enjoy the wonders of Santa Fe, NM.
Over the next few weeks I hope to share with you the most striking examples of the use of touch and Tellington TTouch in therapeutic community service. Needless to say, horses will figure prominently.
Ella Bittel, DVM, of Spirits in Transition gave one of the most powerful presentations this week. A holistic veterinarian born and educated in Germany, Ella works in many holistic modalities including veterinary acupuncture and chiropractic, cranio-sacral work, homeopathy, TTOUCH and energy medicine techniques.
But when Ella’s beloved dog Momo neared the end of her life, Ella realized that neither traditional veterinary training nor complementary veterinary education prepares a vet to support an animal in dying naturally.
Particularly in the Western world, where we have almost a taboo against aging and dying, the modern trend of the avoidance of death and all its attendant aspects leaves us helpless at a time when we most need support: when our loved ones are dying. Many argue that this lack of preparation and support can contribute to the tendency to euthanize animals when it may be unnecessary. This in turn may cause a host of traumatic feelings which can follow us for quite a long time. It is Ella’s assertion that we often (but not always) euthanize our animals unnecessarily early in the dying process for many reasons, among which are:
1) unspoken Western taboos against aging and dying, which promote ignorance of and anguish over the process of dying
2) misinterpretation of the physiological signs of the process of dying, which can cause us to rush to euthanize rather than to treat palliatively, allowing an animal to die peacefully in its own way, and
3) our feelings of helplessness and pain and loss can cause us to overlook our animals’ great will to continue the dying process naturally as a part of their life cycle.
Ella put it so beautifully when she said,
Just like birth, the dying process is of inherent value and an important part of an individual’s journey
and that we and our animals would benefit from our treating the process as a natural part of life. Her experiences with Momo led Ella to specialize in animal hospice care, creating weekend seminars and online classes for those interested in alternatives to euthanasia in the form of palliative end-of-life care for their animal companions.
Ella’s vision is for a nation- and worldwide support network of resources for people who are caring caring for a dying animal. You can visit Ella’s site to learn more about her passion for hospice care for animal loved ones at Spirits in Transition.
As I often find myself saying here, so what does this have to do with horses?
This is a request, a call to action if you will. I need information. Ella’s work and research has primarily been with companion animals. Yet every day horse lovers are faced with the same decisions companion animal owners face: how should I allow my animal to die?
My question to you is this:
In your history as a horse owner, have you ever considered euthanizing or been advised by a veterinarian to euthanize a horse but chosen not to do so, only to have that horse turn around, live for any period of time, and die naturally* and peacefully?
If you have experienced this, please either respond here or email me privately. The process of gathering data on this topic is made difficult by the delicate nature of the subject. I would be so grateful to anyone willing to share their story.
As I leave this subject for now, I’d like to point out to you an article, Leaving this Life, in Rhythm with Nature, written by Ella about the natural death of a horse I knew, Sunny, loved by Sandy Rakowitz of One Heart Healing Center in Charlottesville, VA.
* A natural death is a death that results from a natural disease process, one that entails neither needless pain nor extraneous human intervention beyond palliative care.
© 2009 enlightened horsemanship through touch and Kim Cox Carneal