Awareness: Animals! The Unsung "Healers" of the World. Part One
"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains un-awakened."
~ Anatole France
For those of us who have a deep affinity for animals, we know they have unique way of "healing" humans close to them. They are amazing because of the way they do it, they "heal" us without even trying. Why is it animals have such a wonderful gift of "healing" that seems to allude us humans? Is it innate within their being? Is their level of consciousness in direct communication with spirit, or is it that they have no ego therefore making the transition from pain to peace a much easier transition? I cannot really say why this exists, but I do know it does exist. I know from first hand experience as this is my own personal story of one such animal.
Right after I graduated college, I moved to a small city in Arizona to be near a boyfriend. During that time, little did I know what would seem like a small and insignificant addition to my life, would become one of the most special relationships I would ever have with any being on Earth. I met my very first soul mate by way of a small black and white kitten that I ended up naming Killy.
It started when I first couldn’t decide whether or not to adopt him from a couple of college kids who had gotten him from a woman giving kittens away along a roadside. On that day, I was holding him in my arms, just 6 months old, when a stranger said to me, “That kitten has your name written all over him.” I smiled at this stranger and thanked her for her kind words. Who knew how right she was going to be. I went with my instincts and adopted him and his litter mate. There I was, 23 with my whole life ahead of me and these two new little kittens. That decision would turn out to be one of the best decisions I ever made.
I always knew that Killy was special and I wanted to find a way to share him with the world. Many people who had come in contact with him over the years always told me what a special cat he was and that he even converted a few diehard dog lovers over to his side. I wanted to find the right avenue to make my dream come true. Then, when Killy was 5 years old, and I wasn’t looking, that avenue opened up to me via an advertisement for a local volunteer group in Utah (where I was living at the time.)
They were looking for people to become certified in Animal Assisted Therapy. This is the official name to what people generally call pet therapy. I knew at that moment this was my opportunity to do something special that would change both our lives. So I signed up, took the course, consumed all the material given to me and in the end, tested all my knowledge and Killy’s temperament in a group test with all the other volunteers. Everyone knew that dogs made great therapy pets, but a cat? Suffice it to say, in a class full of humans and their dogs, Killy and I passed with flying colors. I couldn’t have been more proud of him. A true testament to his spirit.
It’s important to understand when it comes to Animal Assisted Therapy, the human and their animal are a team. We engage as a team when we go out to volunteer and we become our animals advocate if issues arise. We are considered one unit, constantly reading each others signals and body language for cues as to what to expect from the people we are volunteering for. Killy’s ability to read people was so spot on that he knew what they needed before they knew what they needed.
One example, out of many, occurred when he and I were visiting an assisted living facility for senior citizens. There was a frail elderly woman in hospice care, lying in her medical bed, nearing the end of her life. Her daughter told us she had always loved cats and would love a visit from Killy and I, even though she hadn’t moved or spoken a word for weeks. I had Killy in my arms when I approached her bed and asked the hospice nurse if I could let Killy lie beside her in the bed. The nurse did not think it was a good idea and told me no.
But Killy, being the amazing animal he was, had other plans and jumped right out of my arms and nestled himself by her shoulder and settled right in as if that was his place all along. Looking at us as if to say, “What? Did you think I was going to listen to you? Now, let me do my work. I know exactly what I’m doing and you can all just come along for the ride.” If cats could smile, I swore he would of had the biggest smile on his face. He really did know what he was doing.
I then began to speak to her as though she could hear every word I said and tell her all about Killy and how much he loved visiting with all his special friends there. At which point, she started to move and begin trying to speak to us. She was trying to talk after all this time and her daughter, nurse and I were so happy to see her actively trying to engage, that it brought tears of happiness and joy to us. Although we couldn’t understand exactly what she was trying to say, just the fact it took Killy visiting with her to make her want to try and engage, speaks volumes about the affects animals have on humans. This goes both ways, but it is one of the many powerful ways animals have on human lives.
Killy and I volunteered on and off for over 10 years. I can remember all the special times he helped "heal" someone's life. Whether that was a young girl who he helped bring out of her shell after having been physically and sexually abused. Or an elderly patient completely change before our eyes after having suffered from dementia for many years. The stories are varied and his capabilities far surpassed anything I thought he would do when we first embarked on our amazing journey that volunteering with an animal brings. When we would visit a facility, the running joke was everyone was there to see Killy and I was just the transportation. This couldn’t have been more true. I was more than happy to just be his transportation, if it meant bringing Killy’s gift to more people.
Killy has since crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. I’m sure he’s chasing mice and squirrels somewhere while eventually settling down to take a nice long nap in a lovely meadow while rays of sunshine rain down upon him. Rays of sunshine where you can’t tell where the light begins and where it ends. I’m so lucky to have been the one to share his life. He was my soul mate and I have no doubt our paths will cross again one day, when it’s his time to come and greet me at that place where love and peace come together. Exactly the way he came to us, here on Earth. Rest in peace my little kitten, you were a beautiful angel that graced us with your presence. I and so many others have been changed by you. And for that, we are forever grateful.