18 Jun Foster Friday: Meet Amy M.
As a part of our 10,000 lives saved celebration we will be featuring the stories of some of our fosters, both Northern and Southern, old and new. As a rescue that does not have a shelter facility, fosters are a vital part of our rescue.
Meet Amy M., a long-time foster mom for LHK9.
What is your position in the rescue?
I’m on the foster team and help with foster recognition, and I foster dogs. Pre-COVID I’d volunteer a lot with events as well. I also help the medical team with heartworm testing our dogs.
What year did you join?
I joined Last Hope in its inception year, 2012. I jumped in when the rescue was around five months old!
Why did you decide to join Last Hope?
My best friend and fellow foster, Krystal, saw a Facebook post asking for donations for the rescue. Someone reached out to her and asked if she’d be interested in fostering, and she said yes! She took in a foster dog that ended up being BANANAS and a lot more than our skill level at the time, but she stuck it out and saw the pup through to adoption. Despite her energetic first dog, I was interested in starting, so I took a dog off of the next transport. Her name was Anita, and she was the sweetest, most perfectly behaved old lady. My coworker ended up adopting her, so I got to see her happy life in her forever home, which was pretty awesome.
How many fosters have you had?
I just sent home foster number 70! Surprisingly, my number is “low” considering how long I’ve been fostering, but I’ve got a thing for the super timid/fearful/feral dogs that take a lot longer to acclimate, so I tend to have my pups a little longer than the average foster.
What do you think has been the biggest change in the rescue since you started?
The sheer size of the rescue. When I started, I could tell you the name of every single volunteer and foster. We were a team of about 12 coordinators when I hopped into my first coordinator role on the post-adoptions team. I knew almost every single dog that came through, and our adoption events were small enough to fit in the lobby of a boutique pet store. Fast forward 9 years; our volunteer base is GINORMOUS, and we adopt out so many dogs that I can barely keep track anymore. It’s really a beautiful thing getting to see this tiny little rescue that was excited to hit 100 adoptions creeping up on such a HUGE milestone. So many lives have been saved, so many shelters have been improved and dropped their euthanasia rates, and so many people have been touched by our mission.
What is your favorite adoption story?
This is a HARD one. There are honestly too many to even pick just one, but the one that stands out in my head first is Vera. She was a “lastie” on the list (she was coming north and all the fosters had claimed their pups but she was left over without a foster) and even though she really wasn’t the ideal fit for my house, I took a chance on her. Her giant bunny ears stole my heart. When she arrived, she was SUPER high energy. She quite literally was bouncing off the walls and would do anything to be by my side.
She quickly learned to hop over our extra tall baby gate in a single bound if I was on the other side. We even went as far as stacking two extra tall baby gates on top of each other, and she quickly hopped those too. I thought I was going to have her forever, because who in their right mind would choose to adopt a dog this crazy?! Well, we found her perfect adopters. She now lives in New Hampshire on a farm (full of cows and horses.) Her mom trained her to run off-leash with her doggy brother alongside the horses while she rides. She has acres of land and goes for daily runs with the horses through trails to a pond, and along the beach. Getting updates from her mom makes me so happy.
What is your favorite foster story?
Phew, another hard one. Out of 70 dogs, how do I pick just one?! I think that I’m going to go with Olga.
If you were lucky enough to meet Olga, then you get it. There was just something about this dog that made it impossible to not fall head over heels for this girl. On my very first service trip in Arkansas, we were working in one of the shelters. I was learning how to heartworm test dogs, and Olga came through for a test. She was an overbred chihuahua mix that snorted as she walked and had nipples dragging on the floor. She had capped out on being able to have any more litters, so she was dumped at the shelter by her previous owners. This particular shelter had a very high euthanasia rate at the time, and we found out that she may not make it out. I was given the chance to choose a dog to “pull” from the shelter, and I very quickly chose her. I got to take her home with me on the plane. She was a perfect princess in her carrier and didn’t make a peep the whole flight.
I got her home and saw her through her spay surgery, and then she found adopters; a family with two kids. The adoption did not work out, due to no fault of Olga’s, and she was returned to me about a month later. I was devastated, because I really wanted her forever to happen and didn’t want her bouncing around from home to home. She stayed with me for several more months with little to no adoption interest, until her perfect family came through for her. She was adopted by an incredible couple. They loved every bit of her snorty weirdness and took her home. I was a hot mess, just hoping that she wouldn’t be returned again. Her parents are incredible to her, and she is still in her forever home being loved on. She used to come stay often for weekend visits, which I always looked forward to. She moved to the Midwest recently, so I unfortunately only get to see her on Instagram now, but I miss her all the time. They recently took in another quirky weirdo sister pup as well, and I couldn’t be happier for her.
What is your favorite part of volunteering with Last Hope?
DUH, the dogs! I love getting to be a part of so many dogs’ journeys. Aside from the dogs though, I just love the sense of community you feel. I have made so many lifelong friends through the rescue, and always feel so supported when I come across an issue with a dog and need advice, or just a listening ear.
What is the most important thing you have learned since you started volunteering?
Patience! I think that a little patience goes a lonnnnng way when it comes to fostering and volunteering. Remembering that these dogs have gone through transition after transition, and they don’t know which way is up or who they can trust. Being patient with them is vital.
What advice would you give to a new volunteer?
Study dog body language. Watch YouTube videos, talk with trainers, notice your own dog’s little twitches, yawns, stretches, and shakes. Dog body language is really their only form of communication with us, and I think it is SO important for this information to be absorbed. Dog bites and fights can happen and are a risk with ANY dog you bring into your home or interact with. Noticing signs of stress can make a huge difference in your own dog’s life and a person’s safety.