Helping your pet through the storm

Touched-By-A-Paw was featured in the Venice, Florida 2017 Hurricane Guide.


By Cindy Baker and Chris Wheeler, Guest Writers

How many times have you heartbreakingly watched a pet suffer through the effects of storm and/or noise phobias? With the upcoming potential for hurricanes, tropical storms and thunderstorms, there are resources for preparedness that include food, medications, evacuation planning. All this goes into making sure our families stay safe.

Many of us, however, do little to prepare our animals for an approaching storm. The increase in wind, the sound of a hard rain or a big clap of thunder can trigger shaking, drooling, whining, hiding, urinating, defecating and other signs of fear and anxiety. Often, we wind up suffering along with them simply because we don’t know how to help.

Many animals with storm phobias aren’t fearful of other loud noises. However, animals who are fearful of storms often know a storm is on the way before we do. So, while the most common therapy for behaviors that are fear-driven is desensitization, the challenge of storm phobias is that there are a variety of triggers that set off the fear response – changes in barometric pressure, low-frequency rumbles, static electricity and even scents will cue the animal’s fear.

Since we can’t control the animal’s exposure to the feared stimulus, we fi nd it necessary to employ a variety
of tactics.

Learning some calming tips and tactics now, can help your best friend and you prepare. These suggestions take time to work. But imagine a scenario where you and your animal can help calm each other. A scenario where you both benefit with a calm, clear plan will help every member of the family.

1. KEEPING OURSELVES CALM – Our pets look to us for care and love. They are very perceptive and can easily sense what is going on our lives. If we are stressed they often reflect that. One of the first tips is to realize that they do pick up on your feelings and concerns. The more relaxed you are, the calmer your pet will be.

2. FINDING A SAFE PLACE – Prior to a storm when all is calm, help your pet fi nd a place in the house where it feels safe. You can observe where your pet goes when it wants to be alone. Remember this location so that you can gently guide them to this place as the storm approaches.

3. CALMING EXERCISE – This practice allows you and your animal to unwind, relax and enjoy one another’s presence. Sitting quietly, with your focus on the unconditional love fl owing through the palms of your hands, is a very special bonding time for you and your pet. Only 10 minutes a day can be a gift for both of you. The payoff in the long-run is immeasurable.

4. AROMATHERAPY AND FLOWER ESSENCES – There are calming products available to help your pet relax, such as flower essences and essential oils. These products are all natural and safe for your pet if they are a high quality therapeutic grade. Animals have heightened senses that protect them in the wild. Thus, they are very sensitive to all the ingredients in products. Therefore, only high quality products should be used on your pets. You can put a few drops of an essential oil on your pet’s blanket or give them drops of a flower essence (like Rescue Remedy) in their water.

5. SNUG-FITTING WRAPS – Other calming products such as snugfitting calming jackets or ace wraps can be helpful (Thundershirt, Storm Defender and Anxiety Wrap). These are most effective if they are tried out on your pet when they are already calm, well before a storm event.

6. THERAPEUTIC MUSIC – There is also calming music designed specifically for pets that does an amazing job at relaxing them. YouTube is a great resource for calming pet music and also instructions on “do-it-yourself” pet wraps.

It is critically important that these calming practices be accomplished prior to a traumatic event. During the height of the storm is not the time to try something new. After any traumatic event, if you notice that your pet is not responding normally or exhibiting unwanted behaviors, there is help available. Energy medicine techniques such as Healing Touch for Animals are very effective and can be life changing.

Healing Touch for Animals is an energy field therapy that supports the body to self-heal. The techniques used in the HTA program help balance and clear the body’s energy systems. This allows optimum physiological responses to stabilize the body, providing a sense of wellbeing.

There are many things you can do to help your pet thrive in your family. If you are interested in learning more about Healing Touch for Animals, Chris Wheeler, a former veterinary technician, uses Healing Touch for Animals, aromatherapy, Bach flower remedies and other holistic healing modalities in her mobile practice.

Pawsitive Animal Wellness operates in Venice and the surrounding areas. Wheeler can be reached at 941-650-3774 or facebook.com/pawsrq.

Cindy Baker is also a qualified Healing Touch for Animals Practitioner. Her business is Touched By A Paw and she can be reached at 484-459-8049 or touched-by-a-paw.com.

Visit healingtouchforanimals.com to learn more about Healing Touch for Animals. Courses are held locally throughout the year.

CLICK HERE TO PRINT THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Healing touch is for animals, too

Touched-By-A-Paw was featured in the Venice, Florida Gondolier Sun Newspaper.


By PAM JOHNSON, CORRESPONDENT

Jasmin von Oertzen and her horse, Pop, experience techniques of The Healing Touch for Animals practiced by Chris Wheeler of Pawsitive Animal Wellness in Venice. Wheeler is helping the horse overcome a neurological condition contracted by eating or drinking contaminated food or water. PHOTO BY PAM JOHNSONChris Wheeler loves animals. She worked as a veterinarian technician for 13 years. When she moved to Sarasota County, Wheeler began working for veterinarian and holistic practitioner, Dr. Jaime Gonzalez. Often, she would walk to the door of the clinic with a distraught client whose pet had just received a devastating diagnosis and wish she could do more for both of them.
Then she learned about Healing Touch for Animals, a worldwide program developed 20 years ago by Carol Komitor, based on Healing Touch, a program for humans founded 40 years ago by Janet Mentgen.

The theory is that an animal’s mind, body and spirit can be made healthy through the manipulation of its field of energy. After completing t he Healthy Touch for Animals courses, Wheeler formed Pawsitive Animal Wellness. Now, Dr. Gonzalez refers patients to her.

"My passion is the Hospice animals, because this treatment allows the animals to maintain a good quality of life while their people process what is happening to their beloved pet," Wheeler said.

But there are many other reasons for the treatment. Among them are pre- and post-surgery, injuries, behavioral issues, helping a pet settle into a new home, and trauma — especially for rescued animals. The treatment is said to relieve stress and anxiety, reduce pain and help the animal develop confidence for training and competition.

The technique creates relaxation, which has a cascading effect, Wheeler said. Muscles relax, endorphins flow and nutrition is better absorbed.

When treating an animal, she first assesses the congested area.

"Clearing energy congestion and balancing energy is the first step. Sometimes we see them moving during treatment in such a way that they are helping the energy clear."  One of the animals Wheeler sees frequently is Pop, a 15-year-old thoroughbred. His first owner intended to race him. When Jasmin von Oertzen bought him in 2010, it was clear Pop did not want to race. Nor did he want to participate in dressage, the performance of a choreographed horse show. But when von Oertzen introduced Pop to jumping, the horse seemed to have found his calling.

"He is very competitive and knows the course on his own. If I fell off during a jump, he could finish the course without me," von Oertzen said.

But EMP put an end to that, at least for a while.

Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis is a neurological disease. Pop probably contracted it by eating food or drinking water contaminated with possum or raccoon feces. The protozoa get into the nervous system, causing symptoms such as body parts that feel disconnected from the body.

The disease took a toll on Pop. To put it simply, his front legs jumped the hurdle but his back legs didn’t. Wheeler remembered the day Pop suddenly became alert during his treatment and demanded to be allowed to run in the pasture. She and von Oertzen turned him loose in the field, where he ran back and forth several times, all four legs working together. Pop was feeling better.

Pop also receives sound therapy. Tuning forks are used to create movement of energy to clear congestion. The technique is said to be soothing and calming.

"You can actually use the tuning forks for space clearing. There was a place in the stables that none of the horses would go willingly. Then we cleared the energy and it was no longer a problem," Wheeler said.

Aroma therapy can help. Young Livings Valor, a blend of rosewood, spruce, frankincense and blue tansy, helps get Pop’s sessions started. This essential oil is said to boost courage.

Von Oertzen believes Pop is making progress and will be able to jump competitively again.

While Wheeler is hands on with Pop, she can perform these treatments from a distance.

"That means I can perform protocols on animals not in front of me. I get myself grounded and connect to the animals. I might use a surrogate, such as a stuffed animal. I focus on my intention to help the animal and go through the same steps as if the animal were here in front of me," Wheeler said.

Cindy Baker of Touched by a Paw uses a calming Healing Touch for Animals technique with her dog, Carlo. PHOTO PROVIDEDAnother practitioner of distance healing is winter resident Cindy Baker of Touched by a Paw.

"It’s all about intention," she said, "which can travel a long distance."

While Baker spends her summers in Philadelphia, her clients may be anywhere. One example of a problem she recently solved was a dog who barked through the night. After a few long-distance treatments, the dog slept all night. Relaxation is key.

She remembers the first time she saw a demonstration of Healing Touch for Animals.

"It was the end of the day and all the dogs were very vocal and ready to leave. The two practitioners started talking and all the dogs quieted down and fell asleep. I was amazed and had to learn more," she said.

She finished her Healing Touch for Animals courses in 2011.

"I started volunteering at the Suncoast Humane Society in February and was asked to work on Ranger, a catahoula leopard dog mix. When I met him, he was lunging at the kennel door and biting the chain link. After two HTA treatments the director of operations remarked how calm he was when she walked by. Ranger was adopted after four sessions," she reported.

But is there any scientific evidence that these protocols actually help?

"On the human side, we are close to having a billing code for insurance for these protocols. For animals, there have not been many studies, partly due to funding," Wheeler said.

Wheeler coordinates classes for others who want to learn the skill.

"The classes are 20-24 hours, a long weekend," she said. "There are four levels of training and an advanced proficiency level. During the training we use the techniques on animals."

The classes are held in Sarasota. To learn more, go to HealingTouchForAnimals.com.

Contact Chris Wheeler at 954-695-9255 or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. To contact Cindy Baker, call 484-458-8049.


Jasmin von Oertzen and her thoroughbred, Pop,
are experiencing less stress from Pop’s illness
since having healing touch treatments.

SUN PHOTO BY PAM JOHNSON


Natural Awakening - November edition

Touched-By-A-Paw was featured in the November edition of Natural Awakenings.


Listen to the Paw

I truly believe that our animals are angels on earth and have come here to teach us something.  More often than not our animals picked us, not by accident.  It is up to each of us to learn from their wonderful, selfless example.

What I learned from my teacher, Diva...

Diva, a Flat-Coated Retriever, was my first dog and the reason I got involved in my healing work.  She taught me to follow my dream.  She and I were a therapy team and would go to the local library and have children read to her.  The kids got so excited that they turned the book around for her to see the pictures and read upside down!  Very talented kids.  

Our therapy organization, PAWS for People, held yearly conferences where they invited experts from all areas.   Two practitioners from Healing Touch for Animals® gave a presentation back in 2009.  The room had about 10 people and 5 therapy dogs that were cranky and ready to go home at the end of the day.  These practitioners started talking and the dogs relaxed and went to sleep!  I knew right then this was for me.  I took all 4 levels of training, an advanced proficiency class and became the coordinator for healing classes in my area. 

My sweet Diva, in the meantime, was my teacher and confidant.  She gave me the confidence to know that I could make difference in how she felt.  First, though some surgeries she needed a few summers ago and then through her cancer and transitioning.  I truly believe she picked me and guided me into this work so that I could help ease the burden for others going through changes in their pet’s lives.   It is her paw that touched me and was the inspiration for my healing practice, Touched By A Paw®.  This is Diva keeping the tennis balls away from her Golden Retriever sister!

For 1-on-1 support to help you explore energetic options for your pet to help them be the best they can be contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 484-459-8049  for your Complimentary Talk to the Paw Session.