Georgian Life Interview with GTHS Volunteer & Teacher, Kellie Casey

“We rescue animals, and they rescue us”

For so many of us, animals come into our lives with an innate source of healing power. The mindfulness and the resilience that we learn from our pets carry us through challenges and allow us to see the important things more clearly.

We had the pleasure of connecting with Kellie Casey, wanting to learn more about her family and how they adjusted through challenging pandemic days together. It was no surprise to discover that their pets played a significant role in their health and wellness.

Kellie is a founding volunteer with the GTHS. She was instrumental in her work to establish the GTHS Humane Education program, and as she explains it, working with “in-risk” youth to develop the amazing benefits of the human-animal bond. Amazingly, Kellie is also a dedicated dog care volunteer, an adopter of many animals, and a loyal monthly PAW donor.

As a teacher, Kellie has done some fascinating work to explore the relationship between rescue animals and challenged youth.

“A lot of the time, these young people can relate so well to rescue animals because they are both trying to reintegrate themselves. They come from situations where sometimes their basic needs are not met. When we introduce them to rescue animals, they connect on a very special level. Their confidence starts to flourish, along with their need to take care of each other. From this amazing relationship, there is so much growth, so much joy, and companionship. They truly get each other.”, she explains.

Living through the current pandemic, we asked Kellie to share how this concept has helped her family make strides together and cope.

“For our family, the current pandemic has become a time of reflection, time to refocus on the important things, the simple things. We are grateful for our health and wellness and the opportunity to reconnect and spend time doing things we haven’t had a chance to do in previous years. Our pets are central to our lifestyle. They teach us to be mindful, to be resilient, and to fill our spirits every single day, regardless of what that day brings.”

Pets keep us mindful. From Kellie’s perspective, pets teach us mindfulness. This has been an essential element of wellbeing for her family over the past year.

“Our pets are happy every day; they are oblivious to the pandemic. They take things as they come, and they live in the moment. They teach us how to do this.”

As an advocate for helping rescue efforts in under-resourced communities, Kellie also explores the gratitude we find within animals.

Optimistic is a great way to describe our Northern Dogs. They most often come to us broken in bodies or spirits. They have virtually no access to vet care, proper nutrition, or medicine. Through their journey, when they become part of a new family, their joy and optimism are unmeasurable.

Animals teach us an important lesson. To be present and enjoy each moment together. Life is so precious, and the simple moments are essential to take in and appreciate together. They lead by example for us this way.

“In our family, one of our northern dogs survived because of their adaptability and resilience, and those are two things in the pandemic that we need. So, they have a lot to teach us. They can show us how to adapt to the current situation, but in a way that you can be positive and hopeful.”

On pets and gratitude: “There is so much power in realizing what you do have. Animals are always just grateful for whatever you give them. Love, food, a home.”

For Kellie’s family, their pets are a wonderful focus during rolling periods of lockdown. “Even on a rainy day or a snowy day, they still need to go out,” she reminds us. “Their needs don’t change. They keep us motivated and healthy. Our pets camp with us, they hike, they canoe, they play a big role in our healthy lifestyle as a family. It’s important to focus on what we do have throughout the pandemic. If you’re lucky enough to have your health and your family’s health, then looking at the positive side has helped our family weather the pandemic.”

The therapeutic value of the human-animal bond is undeniable. In this challenging time, pets help us through the day.

I have more physical limitations now than I did when I first started volunteering. There are some days I sit with GTHS dogs and sing to them. I enjoy singing and playing guitar and do that for my dogs often. I don’t have my guitar in the shelter but they seem to enjoy the singing. I always tell them something better is coming for them.”

“You might feel frustrated by the end of the day, especially when you can’t see your friends, but they look at you, and their eyes say, ‘but you have us.’ While you can’t be with your human friends, you’ve got your animal friends, and they can fulfill a social need in a different way.”

Thank you to Kellie and her family for reminding us that our most wonderful companions show us the qualities that we need to focus on when times feel challenging. Wishing you joy, hope, mindfulness, and gratitude in the days ahead.

Stay informed on GTHS events, initiatives and programs. Learn how the GTHS team is serving the pets and people of the South Georgian Bay Area. Read heart-warming Happy Tails about GTHS Alumni. See a lot of really cute pictures of dogs and cats!