thank Dog. photography » fun, artistic, modern pet portraits | Dallas,Texas

arfhouse | texas dog photography

A couple weeks ago, I headed out to Sadler, TX (near Sherman) to visit the Animal Refuge Foundation (ARFhouse).  I’m not sure how I first heard about it, but I had checked out the website and was curious about seeing the operation firsthand.  I finally made the trek on an overcast morning, after several days of rain.

Martha Hovers created ARFhouse about 20 years ago when she inherited her grandfather’s 25 acre farm.  ARFhouse offers refuge and care for unwanted, abused and/or physically challenged dogs and has become the third largest care-for-life, no-kill canine sanctuary in the US – at any given time, there are about 250 to 350 dogs living there.  Some of the dogs are free to roam the property, swim in the ponds, and chew on the sticks.  The others live in 30′ by 60′ runs, usually with one or two other dogs, each with their own doghouse.  The budget to run the place is about $175,000 annually, relying entirely on private donations.  Martha works long hours but relies on her staff and a bunch of volunteers to help the place running, and the dogs fed and healthy.  A lot of the dogs are up for adoptions – others aren’t for health or behavioral issues.

I left ARFhouse with bittersweet feelings — it is wonderful that so many dogs’ lives have been saved, but sad that many of them will spend their remaining years in runs, longing for attention.  The staff does their best, but with a few hundred dogs, there is only so much attention you can give each one.  Some of the dogs clearly love living out on the farm, able to roam (particularly the herding dogs), but as I walked down the path between runs, dogs came running to the fences, frantic for a little love and attention — it was a little heartbreaking.

As I do, I took a ton of photos – these are just a fraction of the dogs out there, many of whom are up for adoption.

gingela5 - Those pictures are wonderful! I know what you mean about feeling bittersweet in regards to animal shelters. There’s always a few that will never be adopted and it breaks my heart that their lives are lived out in cages or in small runs. People do the best they can I guess. Of course this makes me want to run out and adopt all of them!

briana - Debbie,
Magnificent work. Do you think you could add links to contact information on ARF in your post? I’m sure I’ve heard of Martha’s organization before, but your images are the reason I want to know more about it and see if I can help. Beautiful work, Debbie. Please keep at it. 🙂 -Briana

nick - Great job with the pics 🙂 Hope this will spread the word and fimd them homes asap!

debbie - Thanks all. It’s always hard to visit these kind of places and see all the dogs that have been cast aside for one reason or another, but ARFhouse is not nearly as depressing as the city shelters where the dogs are kept in small crates. For the most part, the dogs did seem content (and were certainly friendly!) and some seemed to think they were in their own little heaven.

Briana – there should be a link in the beginning of the post to their website, but just in case, it’s

SqueakDog Pet Photography - This post melted my heart. I’m glad these wonderful dogs have a place to live out their lives. They probably cherish any attention they get, and have LOTS of dog friends to help share their days. How amazing you got to meet a woman like Martha. What an angel.

leslie in seattle - AMAZING photos – what a gift you have. Thank you – the dogs are all beautiful and actually look so sweet and happy.

colette robinsin - These are beautiful pictures because they are all beautiful dogs.
A great way to let everyone know about the wonderful work that Martha and staff are doing at ARF. This just makes me smile.

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