Two years in…

It’s now two years since LAARF was created. Two years since that Birthday Celebration that led to a group of English animal lovers gathering at a noisy French refuge in the woods around Mornac to walk dogs, that opened our eyes to the lives of the abandoned and made many of us cry at the sheer scale of the problem.

Join us

It’s two years since a sprinkling of that group were bitten by the volunteering bug: a bug that takes you on a roller coaster of joy and sadness, enough joy for each of those animals who’s lives we’re improving to make the sadness of the one’s we can’t help worth the pain, and that pushes you to do more.

Actually, that’s two very strong emotions. I don’t feel either of them most of the time when I’m volunteering. Most of the time I just feel happy to be with dogs and cats and with friends who are happy to be there too.

I enjoy walking all of the dogs, even the ones that practically pull my arm off, because I know it’s the best part of their day, week or month. Sometimes I walk one that breaks my heart. Only yesterday I helped move one from the fourriere (pound) to the refuge as his holding period was over. He is big and black, with the most fabulous wide head and sad brown eyes, and he was scared. I spent about twenty minutes with him. It probably took me about one of those minutes to fall in love with him, and I admit that happens with great regularity. Every time it happens I go through the same argument with myself: can I have him?, would he get on with my dog/cat?, would I be able to work if we have another one?, would I still be able to foster?… and each time I decide I can’t. I don’t doubt that one day I will take one of them home, but when I look back at the number of dogs I have previously fallen for, I can see that most of them have been adopted in to a new loving home, probably a million times better than the life they came from. I realise that it doesn’t have to be me that gives the dogs the life they crave, as most of them will find someone else who can, but what I can do is care about them while they’re there, walk and cuddle them while they’re waiting.

If you love animals, helping out at a refuge is probably one of the most satisfying things you can do. If you think it will be too upsetting to see them behind bars, please, please, please think about giving it a go. Your local refuge is a never ending source of exercise and cuddles. Yes, there will probably be a few tears, but I think 99% of those of us who have tried it will agree that the positives far outway any sadness.

Hopefully, if you are reading this, you know how to find us. We would be delighted to try and help you find somewhere to volunteer. Please get in touch and help us improve the lives of the dogs and cats living in our French refuges.

LAARF website

LAARF Volunteering Facebook Page

LAARF dogs and cats for adoption in France



If you have room in your home and your heart, Foster!

I came across this on social media. The person who shared it didn’t include the authors name so I can’t credit them, but what a lovely piece:

My foster dog stinks to high heaven. I don’t know for sure what breed he is. His eyes are blank and hard. He won’t let me pet him and growls when I reach for him. He has ragged scars and crusty sores on his skin. His nails are long and his teeth which he showed me are stained. I sigh. I drove two hours for this. I carefully maneuver him so that I can stuff him in the crate. Then I heft the crate and put it in the car. I am going home with my new foster dog. At home I leave him in the crate till all the other dogs are in the yard. I get him out of the crate and ask him if he wants ‘outside.’ As I lead him to the door he hikes his leg on the wall and shows me his stained teeth again. When we come in he goes to the crate because that’s the only safe place he sees. I offer him food but he won’t eat it if I look at him, so I turn my back. When I come back the food is gone. I ask again about ‘outside.’ When we come back I pat him before I let him in the crate, he jerks away and runs into the crate to show me his teeth. The next day I decide I can’t stand the stink any longer I lead him into the bath with cheese in my hand. His fear of me is not quite overcome by his wish for the cheese. And well he should fear me, for I will give him a bath.

After an attempt or two to bail out he is defeated and stands there. I have bathed four legged bath squirters for more dog years than he has been alive. His only defense was a show of his stained teeth that did not hold up to a face full of water. As I wash him it is almost as if I wash not only the stink and dirt away but also some of his hardness. His eyes look full of sadness now. And he looks completely pitiful as only a soap covered dog can. I tell him that he will feel better when he is cleaned. After the soap the towels are not too bad so he lets me rub him dry. I take him outside. He runs for joy. The joy of not being in the tub and the joy of being clean. I, the bath giver, am allowed to share the joy. He comes to me and lets me pet him.

One week later I have a vet bill. His skin is healing. He likes for me to pet him. I think I know what color he will be when his hair grows in. I have found out he is terrified of other dogs. So I carefully introduce him to my mildest four legged brat. It doesn’t go well. Two weeks later a new vet bill for an infection that was missed on the first visit. He plays with the other dogs. Three weeks later he asks to be petted. He chewed up part of the rug. Eight weeks later his coat shines, he has gained weight. He shows his clean teeth when his tongue lolls out after he plays chase in the yard with the gang. His eyes are soft and filled with life. He loves hugs and likes to show off his tricks, if you have the cheese.

Someone called today and asked about him, they saw the picture I took the first week. They asked about his personality, his history, his breed. They asked if he was pretty. I asked them lots of questions. I checked up on them. I prayed. I said yes. When they saw him the first time they said he was the most beautiful dog they had ever seen.

Six months later I got a call from his new family. He is wonderful, smart, well behaved and very loving. How could someone not want him?
I told them I didn’t know. He is beautiful. They all are.

Accor Foster

Winter Bedding Appeal 2015

As we head in to winter, many refuges will need more help to keep the animals in their care warm. Not only does this make the animals more comfortable, but it can help prevent and reduce illness.

Winter bedding appeal

If you have any old blankets, sheets or towels, please consider taking them to your local animal refuge. Some will also take duvets and pillows (not feather) but please check before you take them, as some have stopped taking them.

If you prefer to pass your donations to one of our members, please look at the map of our Drop Off Points to see if we have a member near you.

If you can receive donations, store and get them to a refuge near you, please join us and let us know. We will add you to our map.

LAARF Map of Drop Off points

LAARF Website

LAARF Volunteering Facebook Page

or email us on


Winter bedding appeal Cat