How We Got Started In Standard Poodles

Back in 1980 our eldest daughter Mishelle rescued a two year old black neutered male standard poodle.  He had been brought in to our county Dog Control by an older couple who were taking care of him while their daughter's family was out of the country for a month.  They came to our area with him for a wine festival, on a very hot 102 degree day, and left  him in an enclosed black car, with no windows open and no water for a number of hours.  Neighbors reported it to our local police department, and the car was ticketed, but it was not allowed by law at the time for the dog to be removed from the car without the owners present. When the couple returned and found that the dog had damaged the interior of the car in an effort to get out, and that they had been ticketed, they were angry and immediately turned this beautiful standard poodle into Dog Control.  At that time there were only two holding pens, one for dogs to be destroyed, and one for dogs to be sent to other facilities (many for medical research).  There was only a three day waiting period for dogs to be claimed.  Now we have a beautiful facility with regular kennels and a cattery.  Mishelle happened to be getting tags for her fox terrier at the time this standard poodle was brought in and left.  We had worked a number of times to assist in placing homeless dogs, so she asked permission for us to take this standard poodle, who had been raised in an apartment in the city, as a toddlers companion.  Mishelle took down all of the older couple's daughter's information, with the intention that we would return this poodle to her when they returned from their trip.  

When my daughter returned home and told me about this standard poodle my immediate response was "what are we going to do with a 2 yr old city raised standard poodle on the farm?".  That standard poodle, "Cappy" by name, was the best dog we had ever owned, and would herd absolutely anything on the farm.  He knew my entire routine within 24 hours, was totally bonded with all of our family members, never seemed to miss his original owners, and never left our property even though it was not fenced.  When his owners called us several weeks later, they thanked us for saving his life, and asked if we had become attached to him.  Naturally our answer was yes.  They were so thankful that they told us we could keep him, and that they would replace him with another standard poodle.  "Cappy" was my constant companion for 12 1/2 wonderful years.  He "ran" track with my younger daughter Teena, went along on horseback rides with both of our daughters, travelled everywhere with us, knew where every animal on the farm belonged - from chickens to pigs to calves to goats to horses to kittens, and kept them all where they belonged without ever putting a single scratch on any of them.  He mothered infant kids, kittens, chicks, piglets, calves, and two legged kids.  He was also our defender, seeming to know which strangers were to be trusted and which were not.  He was extremely gentle with Walt's elderly parents, who we shared the farm with, and would obey their orders as well as ours.He never barked except in warning, "bumped" us on the arm or tummy when he needed to go out, and was super sensitive to all of our moods.  Unfortunately we lost "Cappy" with cancer at the age of 14 1/2.  Our family was absolutely devastated with his loss, decided not to ever get another poodle (he was also our very first house dog), and to get on with our lives and be happy with our five outside dogs.  Within three months we gave up, our lives were so empty without him, and thus began the search for another poodle to fill the emptiness in our lives that he had left.  We knew that no other poodle could actually take his place, but that one could fill a new spot in our hearts and in our lives.  At that time we also thought that many of his habits were flukes, and not characteristic of the breed itself.  It didn't take us long to find out otherwise, as we started our search.

At that time, in 1993, we decided that we wanted a female poodle so that if I ever became a stay at home Mom we would be able to have a litter of puppies.  Little did we know about the breeders world of purebred dogs.  We have come a long way in eleven years.  We called breeders all over the United States and Canada - and a great number of them wanted nothing to do with us when they found we weren't interested in showing standard poodles.  We also found no one willing to teach us or mentor us about the standard poodles - so we turned to the tried and true at that time - the Public Library.  This is the same path we had followed in learning about our Dairy Goats.  We learned about breed conformation, grooming, medical concerns, disposition, etc.  Then we watched the papers and magazines for months, checking out the litters that we felt had the best prospects, and ended up with our "Cassie".  And that was the "Beginning" of our becoming staunch advocates for this marvelous breed.  "Cassie's" dam was a Rodeo Circuit working dog, a beautiful working bitch whose first litter consisted of 16 puppies.  Naturally we wanted a black standard just like our "Cappy", however we came home with.  "Cassie", the only apricot in the litter, with 15 soft chocolate colored brown littermates.  It was her conformation and attitude that caught my eye immediately.  She was the thinker of the litter, and was immediately responsive to my commands, while the rest of the litter was running hither and yon.

Living in the country like we do it is difficult to belong to any of the canine organizations, most of which center around the cities.  When "Cassie" became old enough to have her first litter, we ran into the same problem with breeders that did not want to offer us stud service, as we were not intending to "show" our poodles at that time.  We owe a great deal of thanks to Janet Blannin of Palmares Kennels and Esther Underkofler of Minarets Kennels who were willing to assist us with "Cassie's" first breeding, and gave untold help by phone when our first litter of 12 apricot puppies arrived.  The sire was Janet's "Starsong Promise Me Gold", better known as "Eli".  They mentored us by phone through the preparation, whelping, and raising of that first litter.

Our second standard poodle was purchased at the same time that Cassie had her first litter from a family that moved to our area from England, bringing with them a beautiful black standard poodle female, "Lady Bess of Bath".  "Friendships Viking Ravenwind" and "Friendships Cassandra Too" became the foundation standard poodles for our kennel.

In 1998 Karin (Benker) Martin, who had purchased a "Cassie" x "Raven" daughter, Friendships MKM Ladywind Too - better known as "Windy", joined us in producing two beautiful litters of puppies.  Another litter of 13 beautiful black, apricot, cream and brown puppies from "Cassie" and "Raven", and a litter of 14 beautiful apricot and black puppies from "Windy" and "Saxon".  

Many of our friends and puppy owners kept telling us that we needed to be showing our standard poodles but we were very hesitant with our heavy schedules. We didn't want to have someone else taking our poodle companions on the show circuit.  It was at that time that we once again searched for someone willing to mentor us in show grooming, handling, and genetic research.  We owe many, many thanks to Sherry Aanderud for taking us under her wing, and encouraging us to learn to groom and handle our own poodles in the show ring.  We also owe many thanks to John Armstrong for his help in teaching us and mentoring us for almost 7 years in how to do genetic research.  His passing away was a real tragedy and a great loss to poodle breeders everywhere.

In 1999 we tried out our first AKC show with "Molly", and went on the International Show Circuit (which is only 5 shows a year here in the Pacific Northwest, and works well with our farming schedule) with "Molly", Karin's German import "Micky", two of our own pups "Athena" from the first "Windy & Micky" litter (W2) and "Cool Colleen" from the "Cassie & Saxon" litter (C3).  Friends, Anna Eberhardt also showed "Lexi" from the "Windy & Micky" litter (W2), and Jonathan Devine (who is now our Junior Handler & Groomer) showed "Ebony" from the "Cassie & Saxon" litter (C3).  Karin also showed "Gypsy" a beautiful brown female pup out of "Raven's" full brother.  We ended that season with 5 Baby Champions, 3 Best of Breed Puppies, Molly and Micky both earning their International Titles by the end of our third show.  

Due to family circumstances Karin moved to Texas in July of 1999 with Windy, Micky, Athena and Gypsy, and was sorely missed as she had become like another daughter to us.  We were very thankful for e-mails that kept us in touch.  Karin was also responsible for locating "Cary" and "Lucy" for us in Texas.

To that date we had such a successful show season, that with Anna - who had now become a partner in Karin's place and Jonathan - who had become our Junior handler and groomer, we decided to try showing "Cassie" and "Raven" as well, and earned their International Titles and a Veteran Title for "Cassie" before the year was out, and also "Lexi's" Junior Title (Windy x Mickey W2 Litter).  "Saxon" started out our year 2000 show season by earning his International Title and 3 times Best of Breed in the Spring, and we finished the year with "Lucy", "Lexi" and "Cary" finishing out the season with their International Titles, and 3 Best of Breeds, and for "Cary" also his National Title as well as 3 Reserve Family Group wins, and his daughter "Velvet" earning her Baby Champion Title.

We have been working very hard to perfect our grooming and handling skills, and are becoming more involved with educating others about this marvelous breed, doing pedigree research, and research into the medical problems carried genetically in the breed. We are acting as mentors to a group of beginning breeders who also want to learn to do their own showing and handling, as well as teaching pet grooming to those poodle owners who want to learn to do their own grooming.

In May of 2002 Karin returned from Texas with her 3 month old baby Beatrice Elizabeth, better known due to her petite size as "Bitsy".  Once again Karin is a member of our partnership, and is living in our 28' travel trailer here on the farm, and Bitsy is like another granddaughter.  We just added to the family.  Karin has been a blessing as I have undergone two major surgeries in  2002, and again minor surgery in December 2003.  She has been assisting not only with the standard poodles, and the miniatures which we started in October of 2002, but with our dairy goat herd as well.  Her parents have visited from Germany several times, and Bitsy like our own granddaughter Isabelle is another "light" in our lives.

Friendship Farm 'n More Expands Into Miniature Poodles!

In 2002 our daughter Mishelle also established her own miniature kennel "Horizon's Miniatures" and became our senior groomer and handler.  Between Karin, Mishelle and I we have done two imports of miniature poodles, and with Anna we imported another standard poodle from Czechoslovakia.  Multi CH Atlanta Black Diamond & Pearls better known as "Dotti" is a six year old black female standard poodle import with titles in 5 countries, and to our benefit also carries the brown gene.  She is a delight to all of us, amazingly adaptable and has very strong retriever tendencies.  In 2004 Karin and Anna decided to separate from the Friendships partnership to establish their own kennels.

Open Houses and Grooming or Handling Seminars

One of our fun events every year is our weekend long Poodle Open House.  We have had to cut back to just one each Summer, with Saturday being a puppy day, when new families pick up their puppies and everyone is welcome who wants to learn about puppy care and grooming.  On Sunday we have a Poodle Fun Day when families with our poodles and those from other sources come for a sharing and play day, and to participate in whatever projects we can put together..  Everyone can come and learn about the breed, learn how to care for a poodle, the basics on how to groom a puppy (Sat) or grown dog (Sun).  What materials are available about the breed, what organizations are available to help them, what research projects are currently going on, what tests need to be done on their poodles, what to look for and what to beware of in buying a puppy.  What resources are available in assisting in the search for a good healthy puppy.  We have an acre fenced "Poodle Playpen" where poodles of all ages get to come and play together.  Everyone brings a camera, and a good time is had by all - both two legged and four legged.  It's a wonderful time for those trying to decide if this breed is for them to come and get acquainted with the standard poodles and a number of their owners, many who were also first time poodle owners.

We now also teach a one-on-one poodle grooming class for the pet owner.  This class has proven extremely popular with our families as they also get their poodle groomed during the class, for no more than it would cost to have it groomed.  Many come back in a few months for a second class as their skill develops to learn more advanced techniques.  Mishelle now teaches most of the one-on-one pet grooming classes, and everyone loves their sessions with her.  We also teach a show grooming class, which is more detailed and covers care, conformation, nutrition, regulations, etc and is a three day class.  We also offer for the beginning breeder a whelping and puppy care class based on our program which has proven so successful.

Thanks to our Puppy Families for all Their Support!!!

We can't thank all the families who have our puppies enough for all their support through the years.  Most of our puppies are now placed with new families through referrals.  Those referrals are coming indirectly from veterinary offices, directly from groomers and owners all over the United States.  In 2003 we also exported our first puppy to German for training in Search & Rescue.  We have a puppy in training for a hearing impaired person, and two training with families with a member with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and many, many of our puppies are working as therapy dogs, as well as companions to adults and children with special needs.  Often I have put the word out via e-mail to our puppy families that someone wants references sent directly to them, and the results have been a deluge to the prospective family looking to buy a puppy.  You have all been wonderful in support of our endeavors to place happy, well adjusted, healthy puppies into good homes, in suppporting our expanding our services into teaching grooming and whelping classes, and in our special training program to provide older puppies to homes with special needs.

We Give Our Puppies The Opportunity to Learn!!

We have always started our training of our puppies from the time they are born.  So many people told us that we needed to see the videos by the Monks of New Skeet, who have a wonderful training program for German Shepherd Puppies that we finally invested in a set, and found that our method of whelping and raising our puppies was almost identical - and used lots of "common sense".  Poodle puppies if given the opportunity to learn advance at a remarkable rate. With our method of training our puppies know a number of commands by the time they are 5 weeks old, and respond by taking to leash at 8 weeks like it was always a part of their lives.  Puppies are born only with the sense of smell, which is extremely acute.  Their eyes open at 10-14 days at which time we start paper training and start teaching the difference between night and day, their ears at 18-24 days at which time we start teaching the earliest commands, and as their motility improves we start taking them for walks at 28 days of age.  We supplement all of our puppies, as we have such large litters (10-16 puppies in a litter - often from just one breeding) by bottle on goats milk (its handy having a dairy goat farm), and we weigh the puppies on a daily basis for the first three weeks of their lives.  As a result we never have runts, and often times the puppies born the smallest, since they never get dehydrated (resulting in liver & kidney damage) end up being the largest puppies in the litter.  Our puppies are raised in our living room, and I am in attendance 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  Karin does all the grooming of our infant litters, while Anna does all the bathing and drying up until 8 weeks of age.  At approximately 8 weeks of age the puppies are transported to our daughter Mishelle's where they undergo their temperament testing and conformation evaluations.  At this time it is determined which of the puppies are pick of the litter puppies of a quality to breed and show, which puppies have the best natural instincts for search & rescue or tracking dogs, which for service and therapy dogs, etc.  

Getting A Friendships Puppy!

Our puppies are almost all reserved in advance by deposit ($100.00 non-refundable for re-advertising a puppy).  Occasionally if we have a couple of large litters born close together we may have families who due to unfortunate circumstances may have to move a deposit to a later litter, thus leaving a puppy available to advertise locally.    We breed for a low inbreeding co-efficient (COI) - doing no inbreeding and only very moderate line breeding when indicated.  All puppies are temperament tested (16 tests) and have conformation evaluations (combining an evaluation according to breed standards set by PCA and the International breed standards as well as "Puppy Puzzle").  In the standards (we are celebrating over 10 years of breeding) we now breed blacks, browns, blues, silvers, silver beige, and hopefully in 2005 will have an apricot and cream line again.  In the miniatures between Friendships (Hansen's) and Horizons (Mishelle Plummer) (starting our 4th year) we have apricots, creams, browns, blacks, blues and possibly in 2006 blues, silvers and silver beige.  We are a fully tested kennel in both standards and miniatures - doing Penn Hip testing for hips (as we get an actual measurement on both hips as well as a percentage placement in the breed), DNA testing for VonWillebrands (VWD), CERF testing for PRA & Cataracts and other eye diseases, Sebaceous Adenitis biopsies (SA) every other year, as well as the new DNA testing for PRA in the miniatures, and thyroid testing when indicated.  We anticipate the day when DNA testing is available for SA, Addison's and Epilepsy in the poodle breed.  We have a special program where we raise puppies up to 4-6 months of age for families with special needs.  We also board our own puppies back if you are on vacation, have a family emergency, etc.  We have successfully shipped our puppies all over the United States for eight years, using mostly Delta's and Continental's Pet First flights, and Alaskan Airline or Horizon on the West Coast.  We have also used land transport with Feathers and Furs Animal Transport Co. who give all of their passengers personal service.

Contact us by phone or e-mail for our latest breeding schedule or to see if we have any available puppies.  Everyone take care and God Bless you one and all.


In Friendship Always,

Bonnie & Walt