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Avalon Pomeranians Kennel Visit
Written for: The Pomeranian Review, official publication of the American Pomeranian Club
April/May 1999

     We are truly honored to receive this kind invitation to do a kennel visit. I have loved animals all my life. My brother and I kept many animals when we were children - fish, reptiles, rabbits, cats, amphibians, ferrets - everything creeping, crawling or walking - except a dog. My Mom was the best sport in the neighborhood about our animal passion. The other Moms in the neighborhood would call her and beg her to quit letting us have lizards and snakes because she was setting a difficult precedent for them. She would tell them that as long as we took good care of our animals and earned our own money to buy and feed them, she would not deny our hobby. However, she drew the line at a dog. Every time we went into a pet store,  we would look longingly at the Pom book on the rack and wish for one of these beautiful little dogs. Although we snuck several puppies home over the years, we were never allowed to keep one. You may be asking yourself why a Mother would allow lizards but no dog. Actually she had a very good reason for denying our wish. While my Dad was finishing law school, we lived in a small trailer house in another family's back yard. My Mom was expecting her third child and we had gone away to spend the summer with my Grandparents. When we returned home, every table scrap fed dog in the neighborhood had used our backyard for their potty place. My pregnant Mom cleaned up two garbage bags of nasty smelling dog poop, and from that moment on the very sight of a dog made her stomach turn. (She has since happily changed her tune and has two Avalon Poms that she adores). Anyway, we still laugh that my Mom drove me to be a Pom nut because we were dog deprived as kids. My husband Eric grew up in the small farming town of Downey, Idaho and also kept and loved many different animals.
     Eric and I started dating when we were teenagers. He was attending the University of Utah and we met at church when he was home for a visit. When I graduated from High School, I went away to attend college in Los Angeles and Eric went to Switzerland for 2 years to serve a mission. We wrote to each other every week while we were away from each other. We were married the summer that he returned. We both work for Time Laboratories, a nutritional laboratory that my Grandmother, Annemarie Buhler, founded over 25 years ago. She was instrumental in developing the first true time release process for vitamins and minerals and was one of the first to bring Aromatherapy Essential Oils to this country. I am the Customer Relations Manager for Time Laboratories and Eric is the regional director for our Idaho location. My study in nutrition and holistic health care has been very helpful in raising toy dogs.
     Not long after we bought our first house (a tiny condo really) the old itch to have a Pomeranian returned. Our neighbor had a beautiful little black male Pom and each day I would see him and long to have one. We finally saved up enough money and not knowing any better, went searching in the newspaper for a dog. I also bought a copy of The New Pomeranian and read it from cover to cover at least a dozen times. We located an older lady who was selling all of the dogs in her kennel. She was out of puppies but said that we could come see some of her adults. We went home with a cream female named Mandy and a little orange male named Kiki. The next weekend we were trying to decide on a kennel name and passed Avalon Island on the way home from the beach. The name stuck out to me because I always liked it from the King Arthur legends.
     We never really liked the big city life, so after our first son was born, we decided to move back to Idaho. My parents owned some mountain acreage and they gave us some land to build our house on.  My Mom and Dad live up the hill from us and have been a great help with our Poms. From the beginning, we wanted to breed the best quality dogs possible. We attended a big dog show hoping to make some contacts to obtain a couple of new puppies. We were bit by the show bug and decided to place our dogs out in pet homes and look for show quality stock. We met Audene French from Utah and obtained two dogs of her breeding, a nice quality older male named Dandee who went back to Scotia and Bonner lines, and a young black and tan female named Kali. We wanted to find a male that we could show so we persisted on in our quest. We obtained some back issues of the Pom magazines and these were an invaluable help. I began to study pedigrees and get an idea of the type of Pom that I wanted to produce in our breeding program. Ch. Starfire's I'm Too Sexy was the new puppy on the scene and I fell in love with his type. To this day I still think he is one of the prettiest Poms I have ever seen. I decided that I had to obtain breeding stock from similar lines. I called several breeders with "friendly looking ads" but there was nothing available. I noticed that Veronica Boudreau of Prism Poms, FL was working with the lines that I liked. I decided to phone her. We chatted on the phone over the period of a couple of months and got to be friends. She decided to send me one of her little bitches out of Ch. Starfire's Rock-N-Rolling. I was also fortunate to obtain some nice dogs from Ken Griffith of Lenette Poms. Ken has been a big help to us and we are very grateful for his willingness to help newcomers.
     I started looking for a good stud to line breed my girls to and noticed that there was a Starfire dog being shown on the West Coast, Ch. Starfire's Armani. I was nervous to call his owner, Mrs. Julie Moreno, because I knew that she was a long time Pom breeder and toy judge. I was sure that like some others I had contacted, that she wouldn't give me the time of day. Finally I got up the nerve and phoned her. To my delight she was friendly and extremely helpful from the first phone call. We became fast friends, and communicated by fax or phone often - sometimes even in the middle of the night as she helped me save a litter that was in trouble. I sent her the pedigrees and photos of all of my dogs and she studied them for me and helped me form a breeding plan. She was having some health problems so I helped her with that and she became my mentor in Poms. We planned that I would send several of my girls to her for breeding. Julie thought it out carefully and decided that since she was down to just one female who had turned out too small to breed, Armani would be of more use here with me. I was so excited that I could hardly breath. Armani came here and became one of our foundation studs. Armani is a beautiful mover with very sound legs and a nice high ear set. He has passed this on to his kids and grandkids. Some of our prettiest puppies have come from his daughters. Am/Can Ch. Moreno's Perri Winkle joined the Avalon team about a year later. Perri was specialed 1992-1993 and was the number 3 Pom in the USA, 1993 and in the top twenty in all toy systems. At over 7 years of age, Perri still has fluid movement and sound legs. He has sired some exceptionally nice puppies for us including our little black and tan Ch. Avalon-N-Moreno's Jasmine. We will always be grateful to our dear friend and partner, Julie Moreno for her countless hours of help over the years and the big influence she has had and continues to have on our breeding program.
     In the mean time, Ruby Poole kindly let us have one of her Ch. Great Elms Prince Charming II daughters, Ruby's Charming Alanda Okla. I really wanted to have a terrific male from Landy that I could use with Armani and Perri's daughters. I  again began the  search for that perfect match. Veronica suggested that I might want to use Ch. Starfire's Nicolas el Grande because he has a lot of old Great Elms behind him. It sounded fantastic to me, but I didn't dare call and bother Tony. Veronica convinced me that it would be O.K. I called Tony and was very pleasantly surprised. In spite of their recent glory, Tony and Fabian were very humble, kind, and helpful. Tony graciously agreed to let me breed Landy to Nicolas. Of course as it goes with dogs, the timing could not have been worse. Landy went into heat right before the winter specialty. Tony would be in New York right when Landy needed to be bred. I was so disappointed. Tony thought of a plan to save the day. He asked his Mother if she  would do the duty while he was gone. Landy had three puppies, one of which turned out to be  our Ch. Avalon's Valentino Starfire. Tino was everything we had wished for - sound, sweet natured, and with that lovely baby face that I adore. Several of his puppies are being shown now.
    In 1996, we decided that our Pom family had definitely outgrown our house. We decided to build an addition onto our house just for the doggies. I wanted our dogs to be raised in a home type environment so we began plans on what I believe is the only ‘kennel' of its type in existence. It took every spare minute of our time for an entire summer to build. The building is concrete block construction, 30 feet long by 15 feet wide. The blocks are filled with Styrofoam beads for superior "ice box" type insulation. The exterior has stucco that matches our house, and the interior is sealed and painted with a special water proof paint. The inside is finished with room for up to 10 partitions. The water heaters, grooming table, sink, and storage shelves are located on the opposite side of the partitions. The wall has room to display our show ribbons and photos. Each partition has its own doggie door leading to a large private run outside. The biggest benefit to each dog having its own doggie door is the ease in house training for the new owners. At about 6 weeks of age, the Moms start teaching their pups how to use the doggie doors to go potty outside. There is no mess inside and it's very healthy for the puppies. The fences that separate the outside runs are made with white PVC pipe. All of the runs are covered so that we don't have to worry about hawks or other mountain wild life finding their way in. The most unique feature of our "doggie condo" is the hydro heating and cooling system. We dug extra wide and deep footings to support the floor. 1,000 feet of special water pipe was laid on top of the re-bar before the concrete floor was poured. There is a dedicated water heater to supply the heating/cooling system and another for the grooming sink. This system works extremely well and we are able to keep the temperature at 70 degrees year round. We would like to extend our special thanks to our family and friends who helped us build the doggie condo: Ron George (my Dad) for helping with every step, Dan George (my brother) for painting, Blaine Thomas for cement work, John Murray for excavating, Ace Holmes for plumbing, Charlie Minor for trenching, and Garth Lunceford for electrical. Click here to see photos of our "Doggie Condo."
     We decided a long time ago that we did not have the time to do everything. For the last few years we have relied on our wonderful handler Jackie Rayner to show our dogs. Jackie does an exceptional job for us and makes it possible for our dogs to be shown and have the public exposure that we do not have time to give them. The last dog that Jackie finished for us was group winning Ch. Moreno's Special Amigo.  She is now showing a Tino son, Diamond's Bit A Bold Bravado (owned by Cathy Jessen) and will soon be bringing out another black and tan Perri daughter,  Avalon-N-Moreno's Lauren (owned by us).  Another handler for whom we would like to express our appreciation is Mr. Don Walker. Don and his partner Jeff Nokes did so well for both Perri and Armani. At the time of his unfortunate passing, Don was handling an Armani daughter, Avalon's Touch of Eden who is now finished. Don will truly be missed by the Pom fancy.
     As mentioned earlier, Mrs. Julie Moreno and I have been working together for about 5 years. Last year we officially announced our partnership "for excellence in quality, type and temperament." We are very pleased with the quality of Poms that we are producing, but there is always room to work for improvement. We decided that since we are both small hobby breeders, a combined effort would help us reach our goals more quickly. We both really like to see a Pom with good legs and a pretty head.  We are partial to bright reds and oranges, but would also like to concentrate on producing some really high quality black and tans. Ch. Amigo was just bred back to his Granddam, Janesa's For Goodness Sake, and to our surprise there was a black and tan boy in the litter. Perri bred to our Armani daughters also produces b/t quite regularly. We hope that by tying Amigo into our Great Elms/Starfire stock that we will be able to achieve very high quality black and tans as well as traditional colors. Of course we do feel that color is just the frosting on the cake, and overall quality is to be considered over color. We would like to keep our dogs in the show ring and have made it a goal to finish at least 2 dogs per year.
     Good veterinary care is a must for any toy breeding program. We feel that it is very important to have bitches that can free whelp and ours do most of the time. Even so, there are times when an occasional caesarian or other veterinary emergency calls. We are fortunate to have conscientious and competent veterinary care at our disposal 24 hours a day. To Dr. Oats, Dr. Gerstner, Dr. Schwendiman and the Hawthorne Animal Hospital, we give our utmost appreciation.
     So that I can spend as much time as possible with our three little boys, I work 2-3 days in our office and the rest of the time from my computer at home. Eric coaches my son's soccer team and we are very involved with church work, scouting etc. The one thing I would say to would be Pom breeders with little children is consider your decision carefully. Raising toy dogs properly is time consuming. Children are only small once and it's so important to reserve time for them. There is also the concern that children who are not properly accustomed to handling toy dogs can inadvertently break bones or worse. You must be prepared to take the time to train and supervise your children properly to avoid a heartbreaking  accident. We keep our Pom family to 10-15, but there are still many all nighters waiting for whelps, hand feeding puppies and so forth. It can be exhausting, but extremely rewarding. I could not do it without the help and support of my husband Eric, and my children Josh age 7, Jeremy age 3, and Anthony age 9 months. Fortunately our children love the dogs and we are able to involve them in our hobby. They are a big help socializing puppies, playing with the adults, and helping to train the show puppies.  For all that they do and for all of the others who have helped to make our breeding program a success, I extend our heart felt thanks. Thank you so much to Dudley and the Pom Review for letting us share this time with you.

Addition by Julie Moreno:

* Wanted:  Reliable person, preferably with a family, and a 4 decade future. Honest, sincere and enthusiastic. Willing   to devote long hours including weekends, with little or no vacations, with the physical abilities to include hours of whelping into the wee hours of the night, usually. Able to scoop poop and jump into full alertness in 20 seconds flat in the dead of night. In depth knowledge of nutrition, book knowledge if not much practical knowledge, able to work the Merck Manual helpful, but not necessary as will train right party who is willing to learn the 2nd language (Dog Show Lingo - ins and outs etc.) No salary and does not expect it to be a ‘get rich program,' but with plenty of self commitment and ego for compensation commiserate with the ability to co-produce Champions that are worthy, and eventually the ultimate, a Best In Show Winner...


 Would Annette Davis have answered this ad, had I put it up on the Internet? I don't know. I will have to remember to ask her after she reads this. I will include it in the same issue that you are reading. Right now in this issue in which I want to be the first to CONGRATULATE ANNETTE AND THE AVALON POMS ON THIS WONDERFUL OCCASION.
     I may not know her response to the above ‘dream ad' but I sure know her response on being asked to participate in a kennel visit for the Pomeranian Review...MODEST... She typically replied, "Who me?? We are not long term or well known with dozens of champions to our credit."
     My response was that it is wonderful to occasionally visit a Pom Fancier who has not yet made it big time, yet is still in the limelight for what she has accomplished thus far. Struggling somewhere along that long and hard road all newcomers seem to have to travel. Usually alone, without a map as the course of the territory from novice to old timer is unchartered and often without even a flashlight to read a map by. It is not necessary for me to tell you of Annette's travels on that road thus far, as it is in her story above. What I do know is that she is making her own map, and I like to think that I am the flashlight that is helping her to draw it.
     The advertisement above is, of course, a jovial one, but in a way very serious. There comes a time in the life of every old time breeder when they realize that they will not be around for another four decades to carry on the line that they have established, or to protect the breed that they adore. Also a time when this is not their own decision, rather it has been determined by health reasons demanding the old timer to cut way down or even out of the breeding game in traveling the Pommie road, and all of your little darlings who mean so very much to you, and are the love-lights of your heart, are looking into your teary eyes while you ponder who in the world can you entrust them to? For me, there was only one answer, TO SOMEONE WITH THE ATTRIBUTES ABOVE.
     Annette has all of those attributes and many more. I count myself very very fortunate that fate led her directly to me in her early travels on the Pomeranian road to dreams. This is the second time I have been blessed with a partner who would become my ‘doggie' soul mate... My first was PHYNER, Dolly Trauner, and now I have found Annette of AVALON. Her dreams and mine have ameshed with remarkable simpatico and I know we were just ‘meant to be.' She did not respond to a WANTED AD, any more than I wrote such an ad, but when we talked for the very first time, she had all that my partner was made of in my dreams and hopes of finding someday. NOT a quality controlled breeder with a kennel full to overflowing, and not only thinking of the money rewards that they could bring, but one with instincts geared to give each and every Pom she cared for her personal attention and that of her family who supported her all the way in her venture down the Pom road. Socialization for correct temperaments, which everyone knows that I am a bugger on, as a good stable temperament to me is a must, before you look at the Pom in any light. Good and correct care and feeding with clean areas for them to always be in, somewhat in the pampered area, knowing that all along with some knowledge of genetics on what makes a POM. Like crossed stars, Annette and I share a love of the same silhouette of Pom type and appreciate good sound movement and overall soundness to make ‘type' truly glorious in action as well as in the show ring statue.
     Being younger than I, her dreams were furthered down the road with mine, naturally due to my long tenure in the breed and in that I was able to beam a ray of light on a map already drawn, as well as on the map that she herself desired to draw. What I had in fully developed bloodlines was able to mesh with what she had done and greatly admired and would therefore begin to concrete her foundation. This shortened the long road to producing stock that she could proudly send into the show ring, which she is now doing. Still she and I know that there is a long road ahead as it really should never end in your inspirations of thought, should it? Detours, bridges, hard knocks in the road, and all of the nails that spring up to hit you until you finally find yourself at the fork, get out, and dig a road for yourself.
     One cannot call Avalon a kennel, as the facilities of the Pommie condo is a work of art from the great designing of her husband, Eric along with months of good hard labor work, which they both shared in, taking all summer to do. They drew another map there making what I call a truly fantastic house for Poms or any toy breed for that matter. Some might even call it ‘AVALON ISLAND' and I am as pleased as punch and relieved to have MORENO POMS in resident there, in full trust that they are being cared for in the utmost comfort and that they will respond with the same wholehearted love Annette and her family give to them on a daily basis, while they will help her along the way on the road she will be traveling, even after that first BEST IN SHOW.
     My road is still there, lest you think otherwise. I just drive it a little more slowly now and don't often get behind the wheel. Dolly and I had been partners for so long in the road, but as you know she met with a huge boulder that caused her to give up her doggie play and hobby... although she is living the gracious life still, she is unable to be actively involved in the working of the Poms. This unhappy event made it imperative that I find another partner who would go along with some of our plans as well as with my lines and family of Poms, taking care of them as I like, for I am very fussy on just how they are taken care of, and anyone who knows me, understands that for the most part, MY DOGGIES COME FIRST... A luxury that I can now afford as my children are all grown and not at home. In mulling over the facts that I had to find someone, I chuckled about who could fit the bill, and laughed out loud to myself on putting such as the ‘WANTED' ad above even on paper.
     Then I ran over that speed bump which nearly knocked me out of the driver's car door when I first got the phone call from this young woman who knew something of King Arthur, his courtly knights, and the fabled Island of AVALON. And with that one fortuitous call was born, the *PARTNERSHIP OF EXCELLENCE.*

Julie and Annette, August 1996
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