Paws Of The North Rescue In Desperate Need Of More Foster Families

Pancake, a former foster puppy that was adopted out by Paws of the North in June, stands on her hind legs.
Pancake, a former foster puppy that was adopted out by Paws of the North in June. Photo courtesy of Paws of the North

Paws of the North Rescue has helped nearly 250 dogs since they launched last year, and now they’re looking to grow their group of foster families, allowing them to continue their work and help more canine companions.

Churro, a foster dog at Paws of the North
Churro, a foster dog at Paws of the North. Photo courtesy of Paws of the North

Paws of the North rehomes dogs from remote and isolated northern communities that often lack access to resources and veterinary care. In addition to providing shipments of food and supplies to northern communities, the rescue also helps organize free spay, neuter and wellness clinics, but when dogs need more care than they can get up north, the rescue brings them to Muskoka for vet care, fostering and eventually adoption. Rescue work is never dull, said rescue co-founder Holly Marko, and there always seems to be a shortage of something, whether it be funding, volunteers or foster families.

We are a foster-based only rescue, which means that in order for us to assist dogs and bring them down from the north, we must have a family willing to open their home to a dog to stay in until adoption time,” Marko said. “We do not have a shelter or anything like that, so foster homes are a requirement for us to continue helping.”

The rescue covers all expenses and supplies for foster families, so it doesn’t cost fosters anything except driving time for the initial pick-up and vet visits. Paws of the North also offers 24/7 support and training and takes a variety of factors into consideration when placing dogs in foster homes, including the presence of children and other pets.

Foster families need to be within one to one and a half hours of Muskoka, they must have a car available, and any other pets in the home need to be spayed/neutered and up to date on vaccinations. Since the desire for pet adoption has been on the rise during the pandemic, fostering is a good opportunity to test run having a dog in the house, Marko said.

“Fostering is a great way to see if your family is actually ready for this type of commitment, with no cost or long-term commitment,” she said. “At the same time, [you’re] assisting a dog get a new chance at life.”

Bethann McLaren and Alex Harber with one of their past foster dogs named Chief. Photo courtesy of Paws of the North

Fosters Bethann McLaren and Alex Harber have been working with the rescue since February 2020. Their experience fostering dogs has been incredibly rewarding and they enthusiastically recommend the foster experience with Paws of the North.

One of the first questions our friends and family always ask us when they hear about our foster adventures is how we can bear to part with our foster pups when the time comes for them to leave us,” they said in a testimonial. “While there are always a few tears shed, the truth is, the joy we experience when we see our foster pups flourishing with their new families far outweighs the sadness we initially feel when letting them go.

Marko and the rest of the Paws team provide unlimited guidance and support, McLaren and Harber said, and they’ve also been able to stay in touch with many of their foster dogs’ forever families.

The many wonderful friendships we have forged through the Paws community has been an unexpected blessing during a difficult year of isolation and loss,” they said. “Knowing that we have played an essential role in helping [these] wonderful, unique dogs find loving permanent homes has been rewarding beyond all of our expectations.”

Allan Wilkinson and his wife Kat have also loved the foster experience. They started working with Paws of the North shortly after their elderly retriever died.

Angus, a former foster dog that was adopted out by Paws of the North in early August
Angus, a former foster dog that was adopted out by Paws of the North in early August. Photo courtesy of Paws of the North

We had adopted a puppy from [Paws of the North] six weeks earlier, and now we had a lonely puppy and a hole in our hearts, but we weren’t ready for another dog,”  Wilkinson said in a testimonial. “Our very first foster was a two-year-old husky mix, [and] from the first day, she fit right in.”

They tried to fight the feeling at first, but it soon became clear that their foster was a perfect fit for their home. They “foster failed,” as the rescue calls it, and adopted the husky, who now has an “unbreakable bond” with her brother. They’ve been fostering dogs ever since.

“Our favourite part of fostering is being able to take a wild off-the-street puppy who trusts no one and show them love and care,” Wilkinson said. “Within days, you can see a difference in their attitude and trust levels. We normally just have puppies for a week or two. In that time, their transformation and development is amazing to watch, and we get to do it over and over again.”

To fill out an application to foster for Paws of the North, or to learn more about the rescue, visit their website. Read about the origins of the rescue in the article below.

Muskoka Rescue Helps Dozens Of Dogs From Northern Communities Despite Challenges Posed By Pandemic


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