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 Shea 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, 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.