There is an Indian legend which says when a human dies there is a bridge they must cross to enter into heaven. At the head of that bridge waits every animal that human encountered during their lifetime. The animal, based upon what they know of this person, decide which humans may cross the bridge . . . and which are turned away. . .
(Sent by Maryellen and Fred Pheiffer)
Emily Shepard crossed the bridge on October 13, 2006, much too soon at age 29. More animals met her there than we can count, for Rescue was the focus of her life. In 1998 she adopted Barney, and that began her work with us. In 2000 Daisy joined Emily and her new husband, Adam. But that year Emily also “rescued” Marge, our founder and president. At a moment of crisis, Emily pitched in. She interviewed adopters, kept track of dogs needing homes, placed them, and kept follow-up information on their adoptions. In one year alone she found “forever” homes for over 100 dogs. And just this year she and Adam added Sam to their family. They loved nothing better than sunning and swimming all together on the Maine lakes.
Her fellow rescuers and friends remember:
“. . God needed an angel to help him care for all the dogs that have gone to heaven, and he chose Emily to help him . . .”
“They say that people come into our lives for a reason. I truly believe that Emily came into my life for a very special reason. . . . Together we placed dogs, together we rescued dogs, together we transported dogs, and together we cried over dogs.”
“She had an infectious way about her that just make you love her. . . . Her passion and love for her beloved Springers brought many people into our program and we will all miss her.”
“. . . .her loving nature was a magnet that served to attract people and dogs in need – and her compassion for them seemed endless; her efforts were extraordinary.”
“Our beloved Friar Tuck and all the animals that benefited from Emily’s kindness, compassion, and decency stood at the head of the bridge and welcomed her across.”
—Maryellen and Fred Pheiffer
An aged animal approached the Rainbow Bridge, head low, tail dragging, deeply depressed. It yearned to cross the Bridge. But an Angel appeared, barring its way. “I’m sorry,” said the Angel, “You may not cross. You have no people.” So the animal limped away to join a group of animals like itself, all lying on the grass, staring hollow-eyed at the path to the Bridge.
Across the Bridge an animal newly on the other side saw this and didn’t understand. “What happened?” it asked. A nearby animal said, “That animal was turned in to rescue. It was old. Its fur was gray and its eyes cloudy. No family wanted it. No one would cross the Bridge with it. Only its rescuer comforted it as it left the earth.”
Suddenly, though, the dark sky brightened; a person appeared among the group of old animals; and the animals, bathed in a golden light, became young and healthy again. Several walked to the person and bowed. Each of them received a pat on the head and returned to its place. But the others that were restored to youthfulness joined the person and crossed the Bridge.
“Who was that?” asked the new animal. “What happened there?” “That was a rescuer. Those animals who bowed had found new homes because of her work. They will cross when their new families arrive. And those you saw restored were those who never found homes. When rescuers arrive, they are allowed one final act of rescue. They may take their homeless animals across the Rainbow Bridge with them.”
“I like rescuers,” said the newer animal. And the older animal said, “So does God.”
—from Sara Besaw… In honor of Emily
“An angel to animals and people alike, Emily rescued not only lonely animals but lonely and sometimes sad humans who needed a wonderful buddy to hug close when times got rough. Thanks to Emily and Adam I found my wonderful Dave in 2002. At 14 years, he, too, passed away this year. Now they wait together by the Rainbow Bridge — until we meet again.”
—Lisa Williams Ackley & Crosby
“Emily helped us adopt Tucker, our new (actually “old”, somewhat cantankerous, but entirely lovable) springer. As we adjusted to each other Emily lent an ear and gave us advice. We greatly appreciated her help. I’m sad at her passing and so thankful for all she did for those very lucky springers that found a home through her efforts.”
—Most sincerely, Mary Witkowski Buehrer
“I was a good friend of Emily’s . . . . She touched my life in a way that I can’t describe. I am devastated to hear of her passing . . . . She helped me rescue my Oliver; we talked for hours about family, friends, everything . . . .
And so I wrote for her:
I will sorely miss your contagious laughter, your “wicked” sense of humor, and most of all your spirit. Your family, friends, people whose lives you touched, and rescue dogs that you leave here on Earth mourn our loss. I find solace in knowing you are in Heaven with all those countless dogs you helped rescue. How beautiful it is for them to bask in your kindness, generosity, love and compassion. But we miss you more than words can express.”
—With much sadness, Melissa Reformato
Benjamin’s Tribute to Emily
Thank you for rescuing me
From a city to a lake where I can run free;
I chase Squirrels up big trees;
Now I’m as happy as a puppy can be.
I swim every day,
Dig rocks from the clay,
And walk with my buddy wherever we may;
I’m really happy, and here I’ll live and stay.
We send a donation whenever we can;
We’ve done so since my new home began.
I want you to know I’m treated with a gentle hand.
I also want you to know I’m always your biggest fan.
Love and peace
—Sent by Robert and Sharon Moody
“Emily supported me in adopting my two darlings, Beaux and Belle. Over the four years that I have had my two loves I have thought of her often and have always sent her a silent thank you. I hope she knew how much her work meant every day that we looked into the big brown eyes of our most cherished new family members. I never imagined that for such a brief encounter I would be so saddened.”
—With sympathy, Ellen Brain
“To Our Guardian Angel Emily-
Your love and dedication to us and fellow Springers like us has changed our lives forever. You kept us all safe and sound with a loving family. Your homecoming party with all your furkids around you must have been awesome. Our loss is heaven’s gain. Please give our love to Barney & Daisey. We know your unconditional love lives on. We will never forget you.”
—Love – Brandon, Zack & Julie Clites
“I am deeply saddened to learn of Emily’s passing. I wanted to adopt a Springer and got in touch with Emily. Her kindness, warm heart, deep love of dogs and genuine desire to place the “right” dogs with the “right” family were unsurpassed. . . . I had only had Tucker one week when my world collapsed and my mother died. Emily was just a phone call away to help me through. We spoke a few weeks before she passed. I needed advice. Emily’s suggestions worked like a charm. I know when Tucker’s time comes to cross the bridge Emily will be there waiting to comfort him until I arrive and we’ll all have a grand old time.”
—Jennifer Tabor Murphy
Not An Angel
The young pup and the older dog lay on shaded sweet grass watching the reunions. Sometimes a man, sometimes a woman, sometimes a whole family would approach the Rainbow Bridge, to be greeted by their loving pets and cross the bridge together.
The young pup playfully nipped at the older one. “Look! Something wonderful is happening!” The older dog stood up and barked, “Quickly. Get over to the path.”
“But that’s not my owner,” whined the pup, but he did as he was told. Thousands of pets surged forward as a figure in white walked on the path toward the bridge. After the glowing figure passed each animal, that animal bowed it’s head in love and respect. The figure finally approached the bridge, and was met by a menagerie of joyous animals. Together, they all walked over the bridge and disappeared.
The young pup was still in awe. “Was that an angel?” he whispered.
“No, son.” The older dog replied. “That was more than an angel. That was a person who worked rescue.
Emily J. Shepard’s obituary – published n Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram on Oct. 18, 2006:
Emily J. Shepard, 29
GORHAM — Emily J. Shepard of Standish Neck Road, Gorham, passed away unexpectedly on Oct. 13, 2006.
She was born in Portland on Aug. 21, 1977, the daughter of Jean Williams and Joel Dalton. She graduated from South Portland High School in 1995, and continued her education at St. Joseph’s College and the University of Southern Maine, graduating in 2000.
She enjoyed numerous activities and interests. Emily was extremely proud of her Irish heritage and was tracing her ancestry. She played field hockey in high school and was an avid skier, spending many winter weekends at her favorite mountain, Sugarloaf.
On May 18, 2000, Emily married her husband, Adam W. Shepard to whom she was a devoted wife and friend. She loved boating and they spent summers on both Big and Little Sebago Lakes, sunning and swimming with their Springer Spaniels who were her children.
Emily also played a huge role in her brother Matt’s upbringing. She was always willing to lend a helping hand and put others’ needs first. After adopting their first Springer, Emily joined the English Springer Spaniel Club of Long Island, N.Y., becoming a rescue coordinator placing countless dogs in new homes. She was an integral part of the organization, volunteering much of her time to the people and dogs who needed her help. This and her family were her passions and she gave her all to both. Emily is survived by her husband, Adam Shepard; her mother, Jean Williams and stepfather, Frank Moreau; her father, Joel Dalton; her brother, Matthew Dalton; and several aunts, uncles and cousins.
There will be a gathering to celebrate her life on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2006, at the White Rock Community Center, Wilson Road, Gorham from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m. Arrangements are by Dolby Funeral Chapel, Windham.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to:
163 Academy Street
Bayport, New York 11705