RIP Barb

Barb Shea’s life as defined by the gratitude of animals.

For almost ten years, I have had the privilege of being the trainer and behavior consultant for ARF-Beacon and in that time I have come to know Barb Sheabarb-219x300 as kind and generous, occasionally cheeky and opinionated, a soft touch who could see through anybody’s crap, and she always found a way to laugh while navigating the world of animal rescue that is defined by sadness, cynicism and difficult decisions. As the president of ARF, she made the hard choices and took the consequence of conflict for those choices knowing she was right and yet always doubting her decisions. Like all of us, she walked with her internal contradictions, but ignored them as she endeavored to do what was right for the animals of ARF.

I write this with my dog Pinball at my feet,Pinball couch headtilt knowing that without Barb, he and his siblings would not be alive (and probably his mother dog too). I can’t begin to count the number of other dogs and cats who have lived only because Barb started ARF three decades ago.

It feels almost trite to attempt a fitting eulogy of Barb’s life that appropriately honors a woman so devoted to rescuing animals, and so responsible for thousands of lives, both pets and humans; we know the two-way nature of rescue and that many rescued ARF pets returned the favor and saved their humans in one way or another.

Perhaps to honor Barb, we would thank the Universe for her dedication and tenacity, and hope that she can hear the words of gratitude from those she touched.

However, our words are nothing compared to the gratitude without voice that comes from all the dogs and cats saved by ARF. Their thanks floats on the wind like dancing leaves in a gentle fall breeze that will carry Barb from this life to the next, offering her the same comfort, hope and companionship that she offered all the loved and lost animals rescued by ARF.


There are times like today when we have to say good bye to a friend and companion who leaves us way to early, just as life was opening up.

There are times in this life when we have to say good bye after a long and fully lived life… Then there are times like today when we have to say good bye to a friend and companion who leaves us way to early, as we did this morning with Shiloh.

Because of his infectious smile, Shiloh was a great photographic subject. Here are some of his greatest photo moments…

Shiloh recently turned six-years-old and in those years he worked as:

  • A Pet Partner therapy dog
  • Companion for the Ponti family
Service video

Chris’s service dog

Did you say, "Party animal?" Or, "Animal party?"

And, all around goof ball when his other duties would permit.

He was such a regular in the Distract O Doggie class that we will all feel the vacancy left without his smiling face and room filling joy.

As his trainer, I spent a lot of time with Shiloh and there were times that I could almost hear the words he wanted to say to me…

"Okay, lady, just tell me what I have to do for those hot dogs!!!
“Okay, lady, tell me what I gotta do for those hot dogs!!! Really, anything, just tell me.”

Goodbye, Shiloh. You are now free of pain, though we are not.

Tanya and Coffee

Watching him play like a puppy gives us so much pleasure… We can’t thank Lisa enough for her guidance in helping us give him a chance at a better life.

Coffee-TestimonialVolunteering at an animal shelter (Animal Rescue Foundation in Beacon, NY) inevitably led us to having four canine family members, 3 of which came from the shelter. Fortunately, Lisa was the dog trainer that worked with the volunteers every other Thursday, and she helped us tremendously in helping our dogs adjust to their new home.

We have taken a few of her training classes with a couple of our dogs, and the classes were both informative and fun. We have been able to address problem behaviors from excessive barking to fear and aggression issues. We also learned so much about what we are communicating to our dogs without even knowing it. This self-awareness has proven very helpful in learning how to communicate what we want from them.

One of our dogs, Coffee (a 7 year old Cocker Spaniel), was especially challenging. He had been at the shelter for almost 3 years, after having been adopted once and brought back, when we decided to bring him into our family. He had aggression and guarding issues, and had bitten several people. Dogs like Coffee never adjust well to shelter life, no matter how much attention and love they are given, they deteriorate in the stressful environment. He was considered unadoptable and the volunteers at the shelter tried to give him all they could.

We wanted to give him a chance for a life where he could be happy and thrive, so we took him home. With three other dogs this was going to be difficult. He had to be kept separate from the other dogs, so we installed dog gates throughout the house. It was not certain whether he would ever be able to truly be part of the pack. With Lisa’s help and suggestions, Coffee thrived better than we ever could have hoped. We took it slowly and little by little he began adjusting to his new home and life. With training, supervision, and patience the dogs began to bond and play together. Several months later, we can’t imagine our family without Coffee. He eats, sleeps, plays and lounges with the other dogs. Watching him play like a puppy gives us so much pleasure, as he truly seems to be happy. We can’t thank Lisa enough for her guidance in helping us give him a chance at a better life.

Tanya & David

Ellen and Mia

All this is to say that I think your classes are absolutely invaluable… I am very grateful for them and for you.

Mia-Testimonial-Photo-1The classes gave us specific behaviors to work on and build on together, but the continual exposure to new people and new dogs in such nurturing surroundings was wonderful for her.

She was constantly being praised by so many people for her affectionate nature, for her response to other dogs, for her obedience work in class, etc.

How could she not blossom?

All this is to say that I think your classes are absolutely invaluable and believe me I do no take them for granted.

I am very grateful for them and for you.

Ellen and Mia – Ossining, NY