Ari Katz

My utter infatuation with animals does not have a clear beginning. Rather, for as long as I can remember, I have loved animals. I have had a passion for showing and breeding all sorts of animals — from geckos to frogs to rabbits to chickens to sheep to Labrador Retrievers. This has always been the primary focus of my life and a source of pure joy for me. I have met truly wonderful people as a result of this passion and have benefited tremendously from the generosity of mentors and others who share my love of animals.  

I was born into a family with two chocolate Labrador Retrievers – both of whom were always tolerant of a toddler climbing on them, dressing them up for plays, and other activities. Throughout my childhood, they were my constant companions.  Very early on I realized how dear and special the breed is. At age 10, I decided I wanted to begin showing Labradors in American Kennel Club conformation events. My parents gave me a nine-month-old chocolate bitch named Maggie for a birthday present. I learned the ropes of handling dogs with Maggie while plying her with biscuits in an attempt to cajole her to go into the show ring. Maggie was a very sweet dog but did not like being shown. In fact, she was one of the few Labradors at shows who actually refused to wag her tail! Recognizing that I could only go so far showing Maggie because of her shy personality, my friend Vicky Creamer, of Belquest Kennels, generously gave me a yellow bitch named Goodie when I was 13. Goodie was a natural in the ring, and she actually liked competing. I showed her at various AKC shows and learned a great deal about showing Labradors and about the breed itself. I took a few years off from showing dogs and focused on breeding and showing chickens, which was very interesting and gratifying. My chickens won national competitions and I met many interesting people at these shows.

But after I graduated high school in 2019, I realized that I really missed showing dogs and the friends I had met at AKC shows.  

In 2019, before I started college Fabian Negron of Gallivant Labradors gave me an extraordinary gift — my beautiful black Labrador Safari (MBISS GCH CH Gallivant Safari). Safari reignited my love of showing and breeding Labrador Retrievers. For most of 2019, Safari was the second Labrador Retriever bitch in the United States. 

Since then, I have successfully, with the help of many of the country’s top Labrador breeders (Karen Helmers (Paradocs), Sara Greenburg (Fairlane), and Jane Wewer (Hunterleigh), to name a few) built a beautiful, well-run kennel in upper Montgomery County, Maryland while simultaneously matriculating at American University (Washington, D.C.) majoring in Literature. Breeding and showing my Labradors has given me – and continues to give me – immense joy that, thus far in my life, has been unparalleled. 

Without the mentorship of Karen and John Helmers, I would be nowhere. To them I thank them endlessly and will be perpetually grateful for taking me on as a mentee and their ongoing generosities. I feel very lucky to have such brilliant, kind, and educating people supporting me.