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Off the Clock: Professor Finds Puppy Love

Reprinted from The Mason Gazette

By David Driver

Michael Krauss
Michael Krauss
At the time it was an unfortunate incident for Michael Krauss, professor in the School of Law, and his family.

While living in Canada several years ago, Krauss and his wife, Cynthia, boarded their prized yellow Labrador retriever while they attended a conference for a few days.

"We came back and found out our dog was pregnant," says Krauss.

Another dog at the boarding facility had managed to scale a 10-foot-high fence and impregnate their yellow Lab.

The result was a litter of eight puppies, something the Krausses were not happy about at the time.

Yet today, Krauss and his wife and two children operate a small breeding operation, Blue Ridge Labradors LLC, based at their home in North Potomac, Md.

Blue Ridge Labradors produces one or two litters each year. The family raises the puppies until they are seven weeks old, then sends them off to adopting families who have been waiting on average 18 months for their "baby." The average litter is about eight puppies.

Krauss says the at-first problem that came from their Yellow Lab's litter was actually one key that led them to start their own business.

The family does not advertise, but relies on word of mouth. Krauss estimates they have sold about 75 puppies in the past five or six years to adopting families from Rhode Island to California to Texas.

"We are very particular about who we sell the puppies to."

There are very few operations like theirs in the country. One reason, Krauss says, is there is very little money to be made, unless a company tries to focus on quantity. "It is a labor of love," he says of Blue Ridge Labradors. The family doesn't lose money on the side business, but they aren't getting rich either. Hundreds of man hours are spent on socializing each pup before adoption.

Labrador puppy
Blue Ridge Labradors LLC photo
According to the Blue Ridge Labradors web site, the family expects a new litter in March. That litter, like every one they breed, has been fully reserved for months.

Krauss does the training and marketing of the labs, while his wife handles most of the socializing of the puppies in their first seven weeks, before they are handed over to their new owners.

While on business trips, Krauss sometimes will stay in town for an extra day at his own expense to visit with friends who have bought puppies from them. "We have made wonderful friends all across the country."