14 Jun 10K Lives Saved: Foster Mentor Program
Fostering is fun, but it can be challenging at the same time. There is a lot to learn, from how to talk to adopters to reading medical paperwork to crate and potty training pups. To help our new fosters navigate the challenges of fostering, Last Hope K9 Rescue has developed a mentor program where our more seasoned fosters share their knowledge with newcomers. This support system strengthens our community and makes fostering much easier. In today’s post we will hear from a mentor Erika and one of her mentees Yair about their mentor program experience.
Q&A with Foster Mentor, Erika S.
How long have you been fostering?
I am a few months shy of my 5th year of fostering! I started in March 2017.
Why did you want to get involved in the mentor program?
When I first started fostering, there was no mentor program. I was fortunate enough to receive guidance from some veteran fosters that I had met at in-person events. Their support was invaluable, and soon after, the mentor program began. My neighbor started fostering, and I was giving her as much guidance and support as I could. When asked if I wanted to make it official and be her mentor, I jumped at the chance! I didn’t know at that point what being a mentor would entail, but I knew I wanted to help others the way I was helped in the beginning.
What is the most rewarding part of mentoring new fosters?
It is hard to put into words what is most rewarding about being a mentor. Being a mentor is so many things. It is being a friend. It is being a listener. It is sharing what I have learned in my experience as a foster. I think the most rewarding thing is helping mentees be successful. Fostering isn’t always what you expect it to be. As with all things, it has ups and downs. High moments and low moments. Every pup is different and needs different things from their fosters. Some are well-behaved angels. Others are afraid of everything! Others were strays that haven’t quite learned their manners yet. Helping the new fosters navigate all of the unique challenges the pups can present and helping them realize their role in getting these pups to their forever homes is what is important. Letting them know that saying goodbye to their new friend can be hard, but fostering is our role in starting them on the path to a happy new life! Letting them know that not everything will be perfect, and they shouldn’t expect it to be. Sometimes it is just about listening, or letting them know that other fosters have faced the same things. Sometimes I have to acknowledge that I don’t have all the answers, but I can refer them to others who can help. Even though we all foster separately, this is a community and we are all in this together!
Q&A with Foster Mentee, Yair T.
What made you want to start fostering?
Growing up, my siblings and I always wanted a dog and played with them every chance we could. Unfortunately my parents never got us one, but I knew I would have them as an adult. Recently, my cousin told me that it is possible to foster dogs, and I was very interested to get involved. I applied to foster programs in my area and within a week I had my first foster. Later I moved to the Boston area and applied to Last Hope K9 Rescue during Covid. I feel that fostering is a great way to give back, and while fostering every dog you learn something new.
What is your favorite thing about the mentor program?
My favorite part of this program is knowing there is always someone to ask questions and to help out when needed. Last Hope is a pretty big organization with lots of systems in place, so at the beginning all the information and processes can be intimidating. It is a big help to have a mentor to guide me through them.
Think about a particular situation or foster dog that has been challenging. How has your mentor helped you overcome those challenges?
When getting my first foster from LHK9, I wasn’t really aware of the importance of crates and crate training, so had a bunch of questions about how to get the pup in the crate when they don’t want to go in. My mentor was quick to respond with several tips.