At the LaBelle Foundation, a Los Angeles-based foster that specializes in rescuing neonatal, or newborn, puppies, potty training — one of the key milestones in a dog’s life — happens as soon as the pups are on the go, said Laura Labelle, Founder of the Labelle Foundation.
“Adopting a puppy is a 15- to 20-year commitment,” Labelle said, “and a puppy will only be a puppy for a few months. And then it’s going to be a juvenile, which is a handful, and then you’re going to have a dog for 12 to 17 or 18 years, and you need to do research on what every one of those stages look like.”
It’s not simply about buying the right toys, she emphasized. Potty, crate, and obedience training are early responsibilities every pet owner must take on. Then comes learning place, a trick where a dog knows where to stand on command, walking on a leash, and becoming socialized. “It’s not just, ‘Oh, I get a dog and run around the house, and everything’s great,’” she said.
In the case of rescuing a puppy or juvenile dog, it’s possible the dog has undergone no training whatsoever. “Behavioral issues can arise, and those are things that you’re going to have to compensate for and make allowances for, for the rest of the dog’s life,” Labelle said.
As difficult as it may be at times, the effort to adopt and raise a rescue is well worth it, she noted. She explained that Labelle is “drowning” in puppies, especially those from rural areas. Each month, Labelle handles about 150 adoptions. “There are so many animals that are amazing and can give you love, and are usually grateful for being rescued,” she said. For anyone who may be unsure of officially adopting a dog, fostering can be a good option. “When you’re fostering, you’re helping save lives, and it’s also a really good if you’re not sure if you want to make that big commitment of adopting,” she said. “It gives you practice.”
“I would encourage anybody who’s even interested to give it a go,” she added, “because it’s such a beautiful and rewarding experience.”