December 14, 2022

A Guest Blog from Ari Katz on his Dogs, Puppies, and Pilot Dogs

I love all animals, and I share my Bedford, New York farm with many - dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, a pony, chickens, geese, Guinea fowl, peafowl, and a myriad of wild creatures. My friend, Ari Katz, is also very passionate about animals. On this blog, I've shared stories about his chickens, his canaries, and his beautiful dogs. Ari enjoys showing, raising, and breeding champion Labrador Retrievers. His dogs are in exceptional health and have excellent physical abilities and temperaments - qualities that are essential in service work. Many of his puppies are now going on to be trained as assistance dogs to help visually impaired individuals. Here is a guest blog from Ari, enjoy.

As Martha knows, I recently stopped selling puppies to pet homes and transitioned to selling them to a service organization called Pilot Dogs. I made this switch because as a breeder, I have to be able to justify my actions. I felt guilty creating more companion animals just to keep several as potential show dogs and breeding stock. My mentor, Karen Helmers, introduced me to Pilot Dogs over the summer and we began a business relationship.

Pilot Dogs is a non-profit guide dog school for the blind and visually impaired, located in Columbus, Ohio. Since opening its doors in 1950, its mission has been to provide exemplary services to the blind community, helping them navigate their lives with unmatched levels of independence, mobility, and confidence. Because they rely solely on the generosity of private donors, they can provide not only world-class guide dogs, but also unsurpassed training, on-campus room, and board, round-trip transportation, an Orientation & Mobility program, and more - all at no cost to their students. Pilot Dogs has about 90 dogs in training right now, including puppies and dogs that are with Co-Pilots and dogs that are in the facility. Raising and training a puppy from the time they get them from me to “graduation,” when they are matched with a person in need of a guide dog, costs more than 30-thousand dollars and two years time - it is a LOT of work!

I recently had two litters that I decided would be good for Pilot Dogs. My girls, Mehndi and Kima, had a combined total of 18-puppies! All of them are doing very well, growing nicely, and hitting their developmental milestones. While it was challenging to have two sizable litters at the same time at my family's farm while I am away at school, it is rewarding to know that my puppies will wind up in the hands of a great organization and maybe even be guide dogs someday. In this blog, in collaboration with Pilot Dogs, I talk about my pups along with the importance of breeding wisely, screening for health tests diligently, and the importance of ethics in breeding dogs as potential guide dogs.