A Raccoon Responds to Therapeutic Touch

By Barbara Janelle M.A.

First Published In Touch, Vol. 5, no. 2, June 1993

In August 1992, I visited Jean Soprano in upstate New York. Jean recently obtained her license as a wildlife rehabilitator specializing in mammals. She does this work in her home, and this summer raised 11 infant skunks and 10 young raccoons. When I arrived, Jean took me to a cage where a 12-week-old raccoon was looking very ill.

The raccoon, named Lightning, had received distemper vaccine but because veterinarians know little about proper doses for wild animals, he probably got too much. His reaction to the vaccine included loss of appetite, increased temperature and a tremendous headache. He held his head very, very still and winced when I gently touched his ears.

I took Lightning into the kitchen where he sat on my lap and buried his head in the crook of my arm. Two other rehabilitators from the Oswego Wildlife Center were there and asked about the Therapeutic Touch that I was using on the raccoon. I offered to teach them a little about TT while I worked on the raccoon.

The raccoon’s field was very heavy along the spine and cool in the legs and feet. As I introduced the humans to centering and the feel of the energy field, my right hand continually cleared the raccoon’s field. Periodically, I paused to balance and clear the chakras, then returned to unruffling the field and grounding it through my leg and foot. The image of my leg as a hollow pipe connected to a deeply rooted foot allowed the raccoon to connect with the ground without affecting me. The quiet centering of the three women supported the changes in the raccoon’s field.

In many cases with ill animals, I work only for brief periods, but in this situation the raccoon invited me to work for an extended time. As the blue light of my hand moving above his fur encouraged his field to increase activity and lightness, Lightning’s temperature rose and his body became very warm. His temperature broke forty minutes after I began working with him. We put him back in his cage with a blanket and hot water bottle and water to drink. When we checked on him fifteen minutes later, Lightning was climbing up the side of his cage, looking very alert and asking for food.

Sometimes it is appropriate to work for a long time on an animal and I trust the animal to guide me in this. This young raccoon stayed quiet in my arms until his temperature normalized. Then he lifted his head and looked around, a clear sign he was feeling better and ready to end the session. In the vast majority of cases the animal will signal the end of a TT session with movement and if you listen carefully to your inner knowing, that moment will come when you “know” it is time to stop.

The change in Lightning, combined with the interest of the three wildlife care givers in their first exposure to Therapeutic Touch, resulted in an invitation to me to teach the staff at the Oswego Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Eleven of the staff are now using basic TT, scanning, unruffling and grounding on the animals that come into the center.


My use of TT has changed in two ways since this article was written. First, I recognise that grounding (visualization that supports downward energy flow through the field) can be done directly from the field to the ground (see “On Grounding Visualisations”). It does not have to pass through the practitioner. Indeed, some discomfort can result from grounding another’s field through yourself.

Second, I seldom work for a long period of time without pausing, nowadays. Pauses allow the field to process the TT. They reduce the amount of work that needs to be done and honour the partnership with the field. –BJ 2/99

(1) “On Grounding Visualizations,” In Touch, Vol. IX, No. 4, November 1997