If you've ever been mesmerised by the sight of birds fluttering outside your kitchen window, or if you experience a surge of joy when you see an uplift of starlings on a busy street, you'll know the profound effect that animals – and nature – have on humans.
Researchers have been studying this phenomenon for years, and the internet is awash with stories of therapy animals having a positive impact on humans, both physically and mentally. But you don't have to be a scientist to feel this for yourself; you simply have to sit, tune in – to your dog, or cat, or even a wild pigeon – and feel a stillness gently settle.
We volunteers at My Lovely Horse Rescue experience this in a profound way every time we interact with our horses pigs, goats, donkeys, dogs and sheep. When an animal who has known only beatings and cruelty connects with you in some way – by making eye contact, with a gentle nudge or a joyful spring onto your lap – everything feels somehow … right with the world.
For most people, this feeling is hard to put into words.
My Lovely Horse Rescue co-founder Cathy Davey, though, is not most people. As part of the Europe-wide First Fortnight series of events, which aims to end the stigma associated with mental health, Cathy spoke to RTÉ Radio 1 about the bond she has with her animals, and how they help each other through periods of anxiety.
If you want to feel the beauty and joy that animals bring to Cathy's life, simply click 'play'. She speaks so eloquently for all of us here at My Lovely Horse Rescue.