We waited and thought about NOT having another litter of puppies. After all the first litter had been ALOT of work. But then I started the beginning.....I tracked Kassey's cycles and decided that if we wanted spring/summer puppies we would have to do a winter breeding. With cycles every eight months give or take a month or two, this would mean we needed to breed her a four years old or wait until she was six. At four we had Kassey's hips screened and they came back with a Good rating. But she still seemed like a baby, so we waited.
After Kassey's spring heat cycle in 2010, I started a serious search for a stud. This time, I researched what other labrador retriever breeders were testing their brood bitches and studs for. The profiling of genotypes had expanded into the 21st Century. So now there were not just hips and eyes to test for, but elbows were part of the routine testing and there were genetic markers to test for too. It seemed the two that were routinely screened in Labradors were exercise induced collapse (EIC) and centronuclear myopathy (CNM). Oh boy, we had a lot of testing to be done before we could proceed.
As for the stud, I worked backwards this time from the OFA database. My profile selection was for a chocolate male, four to six years old, with a hip rating of at least "good", elbows normal, recently CERFed, and preferrable Albertan. This led me to a short list of suitable males, but tracking them down was a little harder, so I contacted Sharon Willis, as the secretary of the Labrador Assocation for Alberta listed in the CKC magazine. She pointed me to Sarah Fodchuk of Antlermeadow Labradors and her male "Peaeyed Code Rudder's Bender". He was on my LIST from the OFA database. I contacted Sarah and it seemed okay to go. The only stipulatation of using Bender was that Kassey had to have her eyes checked and be tested for Brucella, and the puppies had to be sold with a CKC non-breeding registration.
Off we went to have Kassey's eyes checked with Dr. Hertzog. They were fine, but remember what we learned in Lesson one.....you need to have the right format of testing to be posted on the OFA website. So off we went again to Calgary to get the CERF clearance. And I took Koko too, just to see how she was doing..... and got the news that although there were small cataracs developing they were both expected at her age, and would not be expected to grow into a problem in her lifetime.
Then I thought since we were doing all these genetic tests (EIC, CNM), we might as well have Kassey's elbows tested too. And then I checked Antlermeadow's website, and Sarah was testing patella's so we got those checked too. (Not that I had any idea what could go wrong with them, but I guess in some breeds, kneecaps are an issue!)
So Kassey was all checked out and cleared. Her cycle was due any time. I contacted Sarah, and got clarification on just what was going to happen. The cost, the time to take Kassey, the time she would spend at Antlermeadows, and just a good talk. But then....
I found out that the non-breeding registration needed to apply to any puppy or puppies we were going to keep. Since my objective in this whole thing was to do a llimited breeding, with a progeny to perhaps breed one day, we needed to have a family discussion.
Well, we decided that if we were going ahead with this breeding we needed to find a male fast that we could keep a puppy for potential breeding some day. While we could have found a male for a breeding here in Alberta, it would have been either non-CKC or a non-tested male (no hips, elbows, eyes, or genetic markers). We turned to the possiblity of artificial insemination with semen from a tested stud from the US. Sarah helped us out by providing some recommendations for US males.