Despite what creator said, family of first labradoodle says ‘no regrets’

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The creator of the labradoodle made international headlines this week after saying the animal is his biggest regret.

The breed was created for a woman who had an eye disease in Honolulu whose husband was allergic to dogs.

Wally Conron first bred a Labrador and a Poodle back in 1989 to be a guide dog for Patricia Blum.

Conron recently said he regretted it because he may have opened Pandora’s Box and released a “Frankenstein’s monster.”

Conron told Australian news outlets that many breeders soon started mixing breeds and it got out of hand.

“Sultan was created because my father was allergic to dogs and my mom’s blindness was getting worse and worse and she just wanted to be able to do more,” said Lara Blum, Patricia’s daughter.

“She was working with the Eye of the Pacific Guide Dogs here in Hawaii and they mostly did Labradors and my father is allergic to dogs so and my mom really wanted a guide dog,” she explained.

At the time, Hawaii was a rabies-free state and the quarantine laws were strict so Patricia Blum flew to Australia to meet with Royal Guide Dogs Victoria.

“John Gosling, the manager of Royal Guide Dogs, was very, very friendly, a very nice guy and they worked together for quite a while and it took three years but I guess they finally came up with a solution,” Lara Blum said.

She said Gosling had a white standard poodle and they took their best Labrador at their school and crossbred the two.

And Sultan was born.

Lara said Sultan and Patricia bonded right away.

“Sultan was wonderful, he was highly trainable, he was very personable, he was very mellow, everybody liked him, he’d go everywhere and people just gravitated toward him even though he was a guide dog,” Lara explained.

“My mom would love going places with him because she loved talking about him and loved talking about the Guide Dogs in Hawaii,” she said.

She said Sultan helped free her mother.

“She was able to be free, she was able to go and do things again,” she said. “She couldn’t drive anymore so she was able to go places again, she could be on the bus, be on the HandiVan and not have to worry about traffic lights and people,” she said.  

She said her dad was pleased to finally have a dog in the house that wouldn’t affect his allergies.

Sultan stayed with the Blum’s just over ten years until he was retired.

When he retired, he was flown back to Australia and lived with Gosling.  Sultan died at the age of 15.

Lara said Sultan didn’t have any health problems that she could recall.

Her mother Patricia then got a standard poodle named Lisa who, according to Lara, didn’t necessarily want to be a guide dog.

So they flew Dottie to Honolulu from New York.

She said guide dogs in Hawaii weren’t prevalent at the time because of the quarantine laws.

“It was expensive to get them from the mainland. They would lose their training coming through quarantine because it was six months long,” Lara explained.

She said her mother helped changed the laws in time for Dottie to come.

She said she wasn’t surprised by what Conron said to news outlets.

“I wasn’t that surprised actually because, unfortunately, people have a tendency to breed,” she said.

“It’s unfortunate that he feels that way, but I understand.”

She said breeding has become a ‘money-maker.’

“It’s not great for the dogs anymore so that’s why I understand why he says what he did,” she said.

KHON2 asked if she regrets the breed.

“No, no, because we got the extreme benefit out of it and he [Sultan] was the most wonderful dog, he had no problems and Dottie, she’s a wonderful dog with very little problems,” she said.

“Some [labradoodles] I see they do have problems, so it’s unfortunate, it is but I really appreciate what they [Gosling and Conron] did for my mom, it gave her the freedom to go out and do things and not be cooped up and trapped by her disease,” Lara said.

Patricia passed away in 2011 at the age of 66.

Dottie is still alive and is now 15 years old.

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