Updated: Nov 8, 2022
by Karen McKay of Canadoodle Labradoodles
What made Claire become an Australian Labradoodle Breeder?
Claire began breeding in 1981. She had always wanted to be a rancher, which wasn’t going to happen in Vancouver, where she lived. So she set off to Cranbrook to make the dream come true. That was Claire’s first taste of living in real winter with real snow. She wanted to do something with dogs, so she decided that she should do sled dog racing, and breed Siberian Husky dogs that could excel both in the Show Ring and at racing events.Yet, Claire quickly realized that the dog show world wasn’t where she wanted to be.
About that time, a cardboard box was left at the edge of the ranch. In it she found eight puppies, only one of which was alive. Claire had no idea what breed the puppy was at the time, but discovered many years later that it was most likely a Cockapoo. This one little tyke survived and thrived under Claire’s watchful eye, becoming her first real “Heart” dog. The puppy went on to live to the ripe old age of eighteen and a half. Claire had planned to get another Cockapoo, however she was living in Alberta then, working at a law firm and breeding Border Collies, delaying her plan Although she didn’t end up adopting another Cockapoo, while searching she stumbled across Puppy Love Labradoodles and Darice Conrad, who lived close by. Off she went for a visit.
Claire fell immediately in love with the puppies and purchased her first labradoodle breeding dog from Darice to start her labradoodle program. She used a stud from Puppy Love for her first litter. Claire still has dogs from those original lines, eighteen years later. Claire, Darice and their families have remained friends to this day.
What makes Claire’s program different?
Claire’s prime goal is education, to offer as much education to her families as possible. She starts from the day a puppy is reserved, and continues on a regular basis until the adult dog leaves the earth. Nutrition, training, socialization, behavior, emergency care, and general health are some of the topics covered. Claire has a reading list, videos, written material, plus offers zoom sessions and other programs. She wants to help the families to be as comfortable and prepared for their puppies’ arrival as possible.
Does Claire specialize in any particular color or size?
Large minis are Claire’s most common size and what her market prefers. Claire does offer mediums as well, but less often than the small and large mini’s. Claire loves the unique and different colors of labradoodles. She enjoys having a few sables in her program at all times, however parti, tri-color and phantom are fairly common as well. Her next goal is to try to produce more tuxedos, her other favorite “look.” Her personal favorite size is large mini, and color black tuxedo.
What has been Claire’s greatest Joy from being a Breeder?
Claire’s greatest joy as a breeder is to fulfill people’s dream of including a wonderful labradoodle companion in their family. Her most heart- warming placement was with a family with an adult, non-verbal young man. He could not tolerate noise, being touched, or direct eye contact. His mom wanted a dog who was full of kisses, affection and able to learn tricks, plus be very social. The puppy Claire chose understood the moment he walked into their home, however, what this young fellow needed. At only nine weeks of age, the puppy lay at the young fellow’s feet without touching him, without moving, making not a sound for thirty full minutes. Puppy then walked away, interacted with the parents,then returned to the young man’s feet. The puppy continued to repeat this routine for many weeks. Ten months later, the young man was able to take off his noise cancelling headphones, allow the puppy on his lap, and sleep with him. The man and puppy communicated with body language and direct eye contact. Two years later, the young man made his first audible sound. Although he still can’t form words, he now communicates via different sounds. The change this puppy has made in all the lives of this family is enormous.This miracle continues to bring tears to Claire’s eyes.
How has raising Labradoodles made a change in Claire’s personal life?
Claire feels her dogs have made her more humble, kinder, and gentler. She is more tolerant and grateful in her everyday life. She believes dogs bring out the best in all of us.
What aspirations does Claire have for her program?
Claire’s dream is to do a full mentor program with a few new breeders. Claire does not want to just sell them a breeding dog, but wants to complete from the ground up training program, spanning two years. She would like to find someone who, over a five- year span, would take over the majority of the puppy raising of her program. This would allow her to be available as a mentor, giving guidance to breeders going forward.
Where does Claire see herself