Top dog

Local Labrador is the best at ‘Best in Shows’

Josh Pennell
Published on July 9, 2014
Imelda McDonald’s husband, Tony Moores, handles KeepHer as judge Dr. Michael Woods awards her the “Best in Show.”
— Submitted photo

A black Labrador retriever born and bred in this province has won more “Best in Shows” than any other Labrador in Canadian history.

KeepHer won three “Best in” prizes last weekend at the Newfoundland All Breed Kennel Club Show in St. John’s — the best in her breed, in her group and in the show.

The “Best in Show” award was her 19th, giving her more than any other Labrador in Canada.

“We’re pretty excited, I have to say,” says KeepHer’s breeder, handler and owner, Imelda McDonald.

People will pay tens of thousands of dollars for handlers to show their dogs in the ring. Likewise, people pay big bucks to buy a dog from a top breeder.

“To achieve that accomplishment — to breed that dog, to own that dog and to personally handle that dog — it’s quite an achievement,” says McDonald.

McDonald calls her kennel LandnSea Labradors.

The goal of the serious breeder is to breed their dogs as close to the breeding standard as possible. There’s a height, coat type, tail set, etc. that have to be considered, all of which are obviously impressive in KeepHer.

Then, of course, there’s the personality that’s also bred for, and judged, in the ring.

“She has a really easygoing personality. She has to have the proper temperament of a Labrador, as well, and expression,” McDonald says, adding she’s fun to show and a joy to watch.

McDonald starts show training the dogs she breeds at six weeks. At six months they can start to compete.

KeepHer became a Canadian champion her first weekend in the ring.

On Sept. 11, she will be five years old. Some people stop showing dogs once they start to breed them, but KeepHer has had puppies and is still going strong in the ring. She’s travelled across Canada and into the U.S. with her owners, winning “Best in” breeds, groups and shows. Winning dog shows doesn’t result in monetary prizes, although there’s plenty of dog-related prizes such as food.

So what is there to gain?

“The fact that we take pride in what we do. We studied the breed and spent time learning about the breed,” says McDonald. “To work hard and to achieve what we have, it just makes you feel great.”

Having bred a Labrador that has won more “Best in Shows” than any other puts a lot of value behind the dogs that she breeds.

But for McDonald, it’s not that KeepHer is the winningest that makes her special. It has more to do with that old saying “Man’s/

woman’s best friend.”

“At the end of the day, first and foremost she’s our pet. She has a great home life and sleeps wherever she wants. She’s most importantly our pet. So win, lose or draw, we still come home with the greatest Labrador,” McDonald says.