I'd like to introduce you to Malea Barber, Director of 2 Dogs 2000 Miles. She’s been a part of this journey even before it was a thought to Luke. As it happens, Luke and Malea met through a pet cancer support group shortly after Luke lost his beloved Malcolm. The two forged a deep and heartfelt friendship through the many hours spent on the phone talking about their boys. Malea had lost her beloved Max, a Rottweiler, to hemangiosarcoma in April of 2001.
Malea has great faith in the mission of 2 Dogs 2000 Miles, and has been a steadfast supporter and spokesperson for the Foundation. We would like to share with you some of her background in her own words:
I live just west of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Animals have always been a very integral part of my life. When I was growing up we had dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rabbits. My best friend had horses and we spent many hours riding. My maternal grandparents had a farm in Northeast Oklahoma, and one of my uncles had a 9,000 acre working cattle ranch, so I have spent my life around large animals as well. When I got out on my own I had to have a furry companion. How could I not after having grown up with so many? My life always has, still does, and always will revolve around animals.
While I adore all dogs, my breed of choice is the Rottweiler. I’ve had Rotties for 25 years, and have trained and worked them in obedience, Schutzhund, and therapy work. I have been an obedience instructor with Tulsa Dog Training Club for 22 years, and have held most every Board and Chairman position with the club. I am a Certified Tester/Observer for Therapy Dogs Incorporated and for a local group, Karing K-9s. Also, I am the facilitator for the Tulsa Area Pet Loss Support Group, and I am a moderator on the Delphi Forums Pet Cancer Support Group chat.
If there is something in the world for me to do that does not involve animals, I haven’t found it. After my Max left this earthly plane, I became a Reiki Master/Teacher in two schools of Reiki. My work involves sending healing energy to animals all over the world, most of which have cancer. Even in my Shamanism studies there is involvement with animals. There is just a deep spiritual connection for me with the animal kingdom.
When Luke decided to form the Foundation he asked if I would take a place on the Board of Directors. Little did I know that I would wind up being an acting Director. I have to say that it is an honor to be in such an active role. It is wonderful to see people become impassioned about what the Foundation is doing, about our cause. What excites me the most is that we are ‘living outside the box’ by looking for the CAUSE(S) of cancer when every other organization is looking for ‘the cure’. Cures, as well as more proactive prevention, will come much more easily once we know the cause(s) of different types of cancer.
In thinking about the mission of 2 Dogs 2000 Miles my mind recalls the symbolism of the badger. Badger symbolizes abandoning compromise and fighting valiantly for what one believes in. So, like Badger, we have abandoned compromise and the dissembling that leads to defeat, and taken a firm, unwavering stand to fight valiantly, openly, and aggressively in what we believe in so that we do not risk losing it forever.