Original Article: A Guest Blog from Ari Katz on His Labrador Retrievers
In August, I shared photos of my kennel, AK Labradors, and a few of my dogs. Since then, I’ve bred two litters – one here, at my family’s farm in Maryland, and one in Indiana. Two puppies from the Indiana litter are now living with me, and two others went to wonderful homes nearby. Over the summer, while vacationing with Martha and her family, I told her grandchildren, Jude and Truman, about the litters. They were thrilled and insisted on naming two of them if all went well.
And so, I present Truman and Jude (the Labradors), and an update on the rest of my kennel. For more information on dogs, the sport of showing them, how to find a reputable breeder, and articles about dog care and training, please visit the American Kennel Club web site – just click on the highlighted link.
This is Rani, Paradocs Rani, who lives in Indiana with my friend and mentor, Karen, and her husband, John Helmers. We co-own Rani. Here she is a few days after she whelped eight beautiful puppies. It was Rani’s first litter. Karen tells me that Rani is an excellent mother and loves her pups. It is very important that the mothers feel safe and comfortable with their babies. And having a sturdy and clean whelping box (what Rani and her puppies are lying in) is paramount to the puppies’ good health.
Here are the puppies resting. It is very important to weigh each puppy at least once a day to ensure they are gaining weight. Because the puppies look very similar at this age, we put light Velcro puppy collars on them so we can identify each puppy and record their weight. Puppies should gain five to 10-percent of their birthweight each day.
Here is Karen and John’s son, Craig, holding one of the puppies. As you can see, it has just started to open its eyes. Puppies are born with their eyes closed to keep them protected from dust, dirt, and injuries and to allow the eyes to continue to grow underneath the eyelids. Puppies’ eyes begin to open at about two to three weeks and continue to develop once they have opened. The puppy here was exactly two weeks old.
This is Heath, BISS AM GCH Can CH Paradocs Bellwether Heath. Heath has won multiple specialty shows (entries limited to a specific breed) and is an American Grand Champion and a Canadian Champion. As of October 23, 2020, Heath is the #21 Labrador Retriever in the United States. Heath is owned by Karen and lives in Indiana. He is pictured here with our friend, handler Julie Romeo.
Here are the puppies in my family’s backyard. They were driven back from Indiana by my friend, Fabian Negron. Once they arrived, they got fed lunch and one of the girls, Cate, was picked up by her new guardian, Lynn, and her mother, Roz.
Here is Cate leaving my house with her new family. Roz has her on her lap. I’m told that Cate did very well traveling and is behaving herself quite nicely. It is always very rewarding when a puppy goes to a good home where they will be safe and happy. Breeders take great pride in making sure all the dogs go to safe and good homes.
This is Jude being stacked and baited by Lorenzo. I like to take pictures regularly of my dogs to compare their growth to previous months. A good Labrador should have reach of neck, a nice, round chest, an even topline, nice bone density, and a strong back-quarter. A Labrador should neither be short and stocky nor tall and lengthy. Because the Labrador’s purpose is to retrieve game, they must be built in a way that will support their difficult and demanding jobs. A hallmark of the Labrador is their “otter tail” which is parallel to their topline and has enough bone density and fur to help them stay afloat while swimming. Each one of these attributes is important for the Labrador to perform well in the ring and in the field. Jude looks promising. I am hoping both Jude and Truman turn out to be happy, healthy, beautiful dogs.
Part of responsible breeding is registering each litter and each animal through its proper kennel club. Our club is the American Kennel Club or AKC. Each litter and puppy get individually registered. Here is a copy of a registration certificate. When a pup goes home, its family gets a copy of the certificate so they can register them with their names. Registering dogs is important to do so both the AKC and the breeders can keep track of their genetics and lines.
Aside from the arrival of Truman and Jude, I have also been busy taking care of Safari and her one puppy, who I have been calling Fara. Fabian and I bred Safari in late July to a dog named Granite. Because Safari only had one puppy, she did not produce any milk – which means I had to bottle feed Fara every two hours for four weeks.
While I am home taking care of puppies and going to school (online, due to COVID), I have been sending a few of my other dogs off to shows with their handlers, Tim and Megan Terella. Here is Mehndi, Champion Paradocs Mehndi. Mehndi is co-owned by Karen and Julie. Together, we are working on getting Mehndi her grand championship – which is a challenging task with limited shows due to COVID-19. Tim and Megan, however, have been doing a great job. In this picture, Mehndi and Megan had just won “Best of Breed” at a show in Ohio. Each dog show is regulated by the city and state’s health department. All exhibitors are required to wear masks and practice social distancing.
Recently, Tim was in Virginia showing Kima trying to get her AKC Championship points. In this photo, Kima had just won “Winners Bitch” and “Best of Winners.” “Best of Winners” is awarded to either the “Winners Dog” or “Winners Bitch.” It denotes the best dog out of all the regular class entries (non-champions). Doesn’t Kima look beautiful here? It is nice to have great handlers that you trust with your animals. Tim and Megan always do a great job with my dogs. Thanks, guys.
This is Jackie. She just got all of her Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) clearances done. She passed everything – heart disease, inherited eye disease, and hip/elbow dysplasia. It is critical that any animals bred are tested extensively for all known diseases to prevent producing unhealthy animals or the health of the breeding line. I think Jackie will be a great mother when she’s ready.
This is a fun picture of Martha’s grandson, Truman, Mehndi, and Kima. It was taken at Martha’s Bedford, New York farm. Truman is great around dogs. In fact, he wants to start showing my Labradors in AKC Junior Showmanship competitions. To all my fellow exhibitors, look out for Truman in the show ring in the years to come!