In their efforts toward self-sufficiency, the cloistered nuns of the Norbertine Canonesses of the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph continue to grow their small dog breeding program by offering AKC English Labradors to selected individuals.

Bethlehem Kennel Puppies feature imported champion Labrador bloodlines in black, yellow and chocolate. Currently, the sisters are accepting applications for two litters. All puppies are carefully matched with applicants before placement in a forever home.

"Regarding the two Labrador litters that we are expecting this fall, one litter is due at the end of September, and this will be all black. The second, if God so willed that the breeding was successful, would be due at the end of October. This second litter will be all yellow," said Sister Mary Oda, subprioress and dog-breeding sister.

According to Sister Mary Oda, the Labradors have excellent temperaments and conformation and have all been extensively health screened.

Every dog at the Norbertine Monastery has a job, said Sister Mary Oda.

"The Labradors are our breeding dogs," she added.

The average size of litters are seven puppies for Labradors; however, the dogs are highly sought after, therefore, Sister Mary Oda encourages interested individuals to apply early.

In addition to the Labradors, which cost $2,500 each, the Sisters are offering a fourth litter of McNab puppies, which are used for herding, for $900 each. The puppies are due to be born in early October, and would be available by early December.

The sisters also offer additional training through the "Extended Stay" program for an additional cost. Training includes basic training, socialization and calmness.

"I like to use them (the Labradors) as my inspiration for spiritual childhood," said Sr. Mary Agnes who helps with the breeding program. "Nothing ever gets them down, and they are pretty happy-go-lucky all the time. They are so loyal to their people, and they are happy with life in general. I think that's why people like them."

According to Sr. Mary Oda, Labradors are the No. 1 breed of dogs that are used for therapy and service.

Said Sr. Mary Oda, "Which is really one of the reasons that we decided to breed Labradors."

The sisters are planning to steady their course by breeding more litters in the future.

"We would anticipate having a few litters in 2020, potentially with black, yellow and chocolate puppies available, but we have no precise plans yet regarding this," the sister said.

For more information about the dogs and puppies, including the upcoming McNab litter and other possible future litters, visit norbertinesisters.org/priory-puppies/, contact Norbertinecanonesses1@gmail.com, or call 221-2013.