Foster Families Needed

Merlin’s Hope always in need of committed foster parents who can give a rescued dog a temporary home and get it started on its way. Long-term and short-term homes are currently needed.

What is Foster Care? 

Being a foster home means sharing your home with a rescued dog: providing food, shelter, toys, walks (after the dog is well from heartworm treatment or more confident if shy), and lots of attention, until a permanent home for the dog is approved. We count on our foster homes to evaluate temperament and observe behaviors in a variety of situations, and we welcome those updates so we can assess the dog and enhance the description on the web site. Positive reinforcement training is encouraged. Most foster care situations require 2 weeks to a month of residential foster care, and in some cases where the dog is ill or older, several months. In rare cases, you must be able to cope with the possibility that Merlin’s Hope Coordinators and our doctors may find it necessary to put the dog to sleep–always for a reason we discuss at length (e.g., unwarranted aggression with other dogs and people, unprovoked biting of people, and terminal illness)–but never because we couldn’t place the dog. 

What You Need to Foster a Rescued Chow/Shar Pei

The most important requirements are time and attention. You must be willing to include the dog in family activities, allow the dog to live as a house dog with much human companionship, and provide some daily one-on-one time with your rescue, including cuddles, play, and walks on leash, with a secure collar and Merlin’s Hope tag on the dog at all times. The dog may not be completely house trained, in which case use the crate and take the dog out on leash, giving praise and treat reward when the dog is successful. Most of our Fosters are trained within a week. Crates are an invaluable piece of equipment for rescue people. 

Our dogs must be kept indoors except for exercise and elimination. A fenced yard must be of appropriate height (4-6′, as some Shar-pei are jumpers) and in secure condition. If it has a gate, the gate must be locked when the dog is in the yard to prevent someone from opening the gate and letting the dog loose. At no time are our dogs to be confined in the yard while caretakers are away. We do not accept homes without fences because of the danger of someone forgetting and letting the dog out or accidentally leaving a back door open for the dog to escape through. These are rescued dogs who have sometimes been runners, and we do not want people to have to chase and capture our dog in what can be a dangerous situation for both dog and pursuers.

Apartment homes can also be excellent foster homes, with proper attention to providing several leash-walks daily for the dog as well as adequate off-leash exercise in a safe area like a fenced dog park when possible We have also found that most modern apartment complexes are now gated which protects our dogs as well as residents.

Introducing Your Foster Dog

Merlin’s Hope Coordinators will discuss with you the best methods for introducing the new dog into your household.  During this time, the rescued dog may appear shy or submissive, may drool a bit with anxiety. Chows and Shar-pei, especially, may be particularly wary in a new situation. Your foster may also have been hit, dragged by the collar, or kicked, which you’ll know immediately from his behavior around you and your family. Take it slow and easy; let the dog learn to regain trust; give him hugs and kisses as he can tolerate them; he may be surprised at first, but will eventually relish the attention and return it. You will know the dog is relaxing when his eyes soften, tail begins to wag, and he seeks you out.

Kids and Foster Dogs

If you have children, never introduce a new rescued dog to them without assistance. It is preferred to make introductions with an Merlin’s Hope Coordinator present. Never leave a rescued dog and a child unsupervised. Sometimes, even though we make every attempt to uncover all available history on each dog, we may not have the full truth about the dog, and he or she may be a fear biter or dislike kids because of prior abuse from children who had not been taught how to treat animals kindly. It is preferred that foster homes have experience with pet dogs, and that children in the foster family are over the age of 5 years, though we realize many children even younger have a special rapport with animals. We will work with the family and dog on a case-by-case decision.  Because these situations between kids and rescued dogs can be unpredictable, under no circumstances will we place our dogs in homes that run a baby sitting business. 

Your Pets and the Foster Dog

Though many dogs and cats, especially those used to their owners’ rescue work, welcome the rescued Chow or Shar-pei, keep in mind that there may be a period of adjustment for the first few days up to 2 – 3 weeks depending on the rescued dogs history and personality and the resident dog’s willingness to accept the foster dog. As he becomes more confident, your foster may change his behavior towards resident pets, beginning to play and explore the pecking order. As the resident dog accepts the foster, the bonding becomes beneficial for both. Unless the dogs get along famously from the beginning, feed your pets and your rescued dog separately; Be careful when dispensing treats or other high-value items like rawhides or favorite toys. Sometimes what is thought to be food aggression is actually just a territorial imperative that will take care of itself as the pecking order is established and the dogs relax. Keeping this in mind, always supervise the interactions of your rescued dog with other pets. When leaving the rescued dog home alone (even if you have other pets at home), the use of a crate or gate is recommended at least the first few days up to two weeks; for dogs going through Heartworm treatment, the crate is absolutely necessary to keep the dog quiet. Confining your rescued dog protects him, your pets, and your property from possible injury or damage. 

A special note about senior dogs

“We all just need a place to lay our heads.”

Like most breed rescue programs, we are committed to seniors (over age 9); thus we usually have many seniors in our program.  With only a few exceptions, they are healthy and adoptable, but older than many adoptive homes wish, and they often remain in our program.  We are also committed to our special needs Chows and Shar-pei whose illnesses are serious enough that they are not adoptable and will remain in our program. Since we want to be able to afford both our seniors and our special needs dogs that kind of safety and care, but not strain the resources of our normal foster network for the new dogs coming in, we have set up a Special Needs and Senior Foster Care program to take care of these beauties who just need a place to lay their heads and gentle arms to comfort them.  We need families willing to take in these terrific dogs (no adoption fee) and provide them with safety, comfort, good nutrition, exercise, and lots of love.  In return, Merlin’s Hope will cover all vet bills for annual work-ups, vaccinations, heartworm medication, and any illnesses that may develop—though foster homes would need to clear those trips to clinics with us first.  In essence, our dog would remain with you while the program takes care of his or her medical needs, and you enjoy the special blessings of your precious special needs or senior dog, but remain responsible to the program in regularly letting us know how the dog is doing.  If you live in the Montreal/Ottawa Area and would like to help us with this mission, becoming a valued member of our rescue program and family, please complete the foster care application and send to us. 


#1. Complete our Foster Application Form 

#2. A rescue volunteer will contact you within 48 hours to review your application, check your vet reference, and then arrange a home visit if you wish to persue fostering.

Why a home visit?

  • We are not going to your home to check if you have dust on your furniture or dishes in the sink.
  • We do home visits to substantiate and to validate the information you put on your foster form.
  • During our visit, we try to take the chow or shar pei foster candidate with us to evaluate chemistry.
  • If the rescue dog is not available for the home visit, sometimes the volunteer will bring another dog along as a companion.

#3. Once everyone is satisfied, your foster application can come to completion and you may take possession of your new foster dog or be on-call to be notified when a good candidate for your home arrives to our rescue.

Nothing is Written in Stone

All illnesses, aptitudes, temperaments or any other known issues that we are aware of  are always disclosed to the potential adopter so that there are NO surprises. Of course, just like humans, dogs are individuals, therefore we cannot discover everything and sometimes new behaviors manifest themselves in the home that were not present or evident during our evaluation period.

Most Frequently Asked Questions

“Don’t you get attached to the dog?” — Yes, and that is what we want for both you and the dog. It’s fun to get to know new dogs, and for your foster dog and resident dog(s) to make new friends, too. Often, your resident dog will be revitalized in the presence of the rescued dog, and you will witness amazing developments in both dogs. It’s educational to see how different dogs react to training, how they play with and teach one another. It’s also educational to see when any territorial problems develop and learn to deal with those, usually allowing the dogs to work things out within reason, calling for crate time when the problem needs to be dealt with. You will fall in love with your foster dog, which is necessary to his or her rehabilitation and also leads us to the next question.

“How can you give him up?” — This is probably the number one reason why a lot of caring people do not offer their homes for foster care: they are afraid giving the dog up will hurt too much. However, it’s a hard truth, but without enough foster homes, we cannot rescue and save these dogs: they will die in the shelters if we don’t have space for them in our program. It helps to think of your foster dog as your neighbor’s dog that you are keeping during a vacation. Sure, you like him and will take really good care of him, but when your neighbor gets home, you will give the dog back!  Some of us think of ourselves as the rescued dog’s ‘aunt’ or ‘uncle,’ a loving guardian for the dog on his or her way to a permanent home. This is a dog who ultimately belongs to someone else, who is in our care for only a short time. When you give him or her up, it will be to a Sheltie ‘forever home’ that this dog has been waiting for–and you will be opening a space for the next rescue who needs you so desperately. There is ALWAYS another rescue dog.  But, also, after many years of fostering, your fellow volunteers can assure you there is nothing quite as moving as seeing your beloved foster dog happy, healthy, loved, and cherished by the forever home that really wanted him or her and in some cases really needed your dog. It’s contagious, and we hope you will be hooked on fostering, too.

“What if I really like the dog and want to keep her?”— This does happen. Sometimes the “perfect dog” comes along, and everyone in the family just seems to agree that theirs is the “perfect home.”  Fortunately, qualifying as a Foster Home usually qualifies you as an Adopter as well. Merlin’s Hope is concerned to place our Dogs with their needs and preferences as important as the adopters’.  Sometimes the dog tells us which home is right; and we respect that. Should this happen, and we all agree, then the foster home will pay the adoption fee, complete the Final Adoption Agreement, and assume ownership of the dog. Please think about this carefully, though, as often adoption means the family feels it no longer has foster space available, and we desperately need those homes.  

© 2024 Merlin’s Hope Chow Chow and Shar Pei Rescue