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Kellyn and I got to go on the vacation of a lifetime in the Spring of 2011, to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary.  We did back-to-back eastern and western Caribbean cruises on the Carnival Glory.

Carnival Glory at Grand Turk
The Carnival Glory docked at the island of Grand Turk

 

Jim and Kellyn at St. Thomas
Here we are at the Paradise Point overlook in St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

 

Grand Cayman Turtle Farm
Jim at the turtle farm on Grand Cayman island

We simply had THE BEST time on this cruise!  It was the vacation of a lifetime.  To read more about it, and to see many more pictures (and videos), click here.


Very happy news...  Kellyn and I reconciled in October, and Morgan is back home with us! 



You may have heard that last June, Kellyn and I filed for divorce...  and that we decided to end our Cocker breeding program and to place all of our dogs in new homes.  We're delighted to tell you that we patched things up, withdrew the divorce papers, and fired the lawyer!  In fact, this whole thing shook up our relationship so much...  and forced us to put so much work in to fixing things...  that we've now got a stronger relationship than ever before.

To celebrate our reconciliation and the start of the second chapter together...  we headed to our favorite vacation destination in early November:  a Carnival cruise ship!  We renewed our wedding vows in a ceremony performed by the ship's captain, and enjoyed a second honeymoon during a cruise to Acapulco.  Here are some photos of our renewal-of-vows ceremony...

Our 2010 cruise was a group cruise with 8 of our friends from our online Cocker Spaniel forum.  Here's a shot of our whole group, in the wedding chapel immediately after our renewal-of-vows ceremony...

We had a good laugh when we were given a receipt for our payment of the charges involved with the ceremony, as it said that it was a receipt for the "renewal of vowels" ceremony.  I guess English might not have been the primary language of whoever wrote out that receipt!  Perhaps on our next cruise we should renew our consonants...

A few days after we got home from the cruise, we picked up our very special Cocker, Morgan, and brought her back home...  where she will get to live the rest of her life as a spoiled house dog.  During the divorce, our friend, Vicki Wallace, had been caring for Morgan until things settled.


Mid-October marked the end of an era, as our 15-year Cocker breeding program officially came to a close.  Our final litter of pups headed off to their new homes.  In our garage, I dismantled the Cocker Castle and the Puppy Palace...  the facilities I used for housing my dogs at night and whelping my litters of puppies.  With the leftover lumber from the Puppy Palace and Cocker Castle, I built utility shelves along one garage wall...  and after two full loads of junk dropped off at the local landfill, we can park a car in the garage for the first time since we've lived here!


The summer of 2010 was a period of good news and bad news at the Zim house.  The good news is that Joanna delivered a beautiful litter of puppies on July 21st! 

Joanna with her litter of Cocker Spaniel puppies
See more pictures of Joanna's current litter here

This was kind of a big deal around here, because it had been a long time since our last litter of puppies.  Our dogs didn't have any litters at all in 2009, so I was totally ready for all the fun of having a bunch of puppies to play with again.  There's just absolutely nothing like the kind of fun you can have with a litter of Cocker pups around...  I always say that there's no anti-depressant as effective as having a litter of Cocker Spaniel puppies around.

The bad news is that Joanna's litter was the final litter in the Zim breeding program.  After 15 years of breeding Cockers, we're retiring from Cockers in order to have more time to devote to travelling and to spending time with family and friends.  So, it's the end of an era here at the Zim house.  We've placed our adult dogs in new homes with people that we know will give them the love and attention they deserve.  Joanna has been reunited with her old flame, Dodger...  as she is now living with Phil and Susan Stonesifer, who we have come to respect so much after seeing the great job they did in training Dodger after we retired him from breeding.


Earlier in the year, we found ourselves in a tough situation with Haylee, our first-ever champion show dog.  Haylee very rapidly developed cataracts in both eyes shortly after becoming a champion in early 2010.  In fact, in less than one month she went from being on top of the world to being basically blind.  This is so frustrating for me, as I had high hopes of making some great puppies with my first-ever champion show dog.  But cataracts can be passed on to the next generation, so Haylee had to be spayed.

Joanna and Haylee
A June 2010 photo of Joanna (left) and Haylee (right)

The other frustrating thing about the Haylee situation is that she isn't a good candidate for surgery to remove the cataracts.  As soon as we discovered the cataracts, we got Haylee in to see a Veterinary Ophthalmologist...  and we were all set to go ahead with a $4000 operation to restore her sight.  But after a detailed examination and evaluation, the Ophthalmologist told us that Haylee really wasn't a good candidate for the operation, as it was quite likely that after the operation that Haylee's eye would reject the lenses.  As you may know, we went down this road once before with one of our dogs.  Our chocolate & white girl, Reese, developed cataracts in one eye and the Ophthalmologist did the surgery to restore her sight in that eye.  It cost somewhere around $3000, and it was all wasted because the lens ended up getting rejected.  But luckily for us, when Reese later got cataracts in the other eye, the operation was completely successful and Reese can see today out of that one eye.  Reese and Haylee are completely unrelated, by the way, in case you are thinking that there's a connection.  It's just one of the health problems that sometimes crops up in Cocker Spaniels...  even if you do everything right!  For example, Haylee came from one of the most-respected kennels in the Cocker show world...  and came from parents who both passed CERF exams.  But even a dog from that kind of nearly-perfect background can end up with cataracts.


Red and white parti Cocker show dog

Here's a look at Haylee earlier in the year when she made her big splash in the show world.  After 40 years with Cockers, I finally got my first champion show dog!  A few years ago, when I saw Bryon and Marie Santos in the ring at the American Spaniel Club's big national championship show, I would never have dreamed that one day that place one of their dogs with me.  It was such a wonderful vote-of-confidence that they would place a pup with us.

Haylee did very well at her dog show debut in Portland, Oregon, in January...  winning 10 points and two majors in the first three days!  A few weeks later, she got two additional points at her next show.  She wrapped up her championship at her fourth dog show...  winning four additional points on February 19th at the San Diego Cocker Spaniel Club's specialty show!

See more pictures over on Haylee's page.


My Cocker Spaniel photo book has been published and is now available!

I spent quite a bit of time last summer going through all of my Cocker photos and picking the best ones to include in a coffee-table book.  It's a 100 page hard cover book, filled with over 160 Cocker pictures that I think you'll really enjoy.

To learn more about the book, head on over to this page for a lot more information about it...  including a look at a few of the pictures that made it in to the book, and information about how to order the book for yourself or how to simply view it online for free.


Meg has now moved on to her "forever home", after we made the decision to not have her become a part of our breeding program.

A photo of Meg at nine months old

As you may recall, Meg was the pick-of-the-litter from Joanna's 2008 puppies.  We kept her in hopes that she would grow up to be a good addition to our breeding program.  But as Meg matured, it became clear to us that she didn't have "the right stuff" to pass along to a new generation of puppies.  Because of her timid personality (Cockers are supposed to be "merry") and tendency to pee when feeling a little intimidated, we decided that she wasn't the kind of dog we wanted to use for breeding.  Right around her first birthday, we had Meg spayed and then we placed her in her new "forever home" with Alice Soria of Huntington Beach.  They seem to be a really good match.

Meg was the second one of our dogs we decided to re-home in 2009.  The other was Pipa, who we decided to spay after lingering questions about orthopedic issues with her and her father.  Because we place a big emphasis on health issues in our breeding program, we're extremely conservative about what dogs we'll breed...  and if we're at all uncomfortable about a dog, we'll spay or neuter rather than risk making unhealthy puppies.


An April 2009 photo of Pipa

Even though Pipa did pass OFA and CERF testing in 2008, we made a conservative decision to spay and re-home Pipa due to some uncertainties regarding orthopedic issues.  The last thing we want to do is make a litter of puppies with health issues...  and because lingering orthopedic questions made us less-than-certain about Pipa's ability to make healthy puppies, we felt the right thing to do was to be conservative and have her spayed.  You can read the full story here.  Pipa will be heading to her new home in Michigan with our friends Karen K and "Krash" during the first week in May.

As you may know about us, we don't ever want to become one of those breeders with 50 dogs on the premises.  We only keep a handful of dogs, so that each can get the attention and care it deserves.  So, when one of our dogs is spayed or neutered, we place that dog in a new home.  And that opens up a spot to bring in someone new...


Meet Haylee, the newest addition to the Zim family!  She joined us on April 22, 2009.

Haylee comes to us from one of the top names in the Cocker show world, and has a pedigree with more champions in it than I've ever seen!  If she passes OFA and CERF testing (after turning two years old) she'll have a place in our breeding program beginning in 2011.  You can see a few more pictures of Haylee (and her siblings) on Haylee's page.


Now here's a photo I shot to show the four gorgeous Zim girls that lived with us as of January of 2009.   Usually I shoot individual pictures and then just merge them together in to a collage...  but , I decided to see if I could actually get them to sit together and all look at the camera at the same time.  Surprisingly, they actually cooperated! 

That's Meg on the left...  and then Morgan, Joanna, and Pipa.  In the year after this picture was taken we made a couple of big changes to our breeding program...  spaying and re-homing Meg and Pipa and adding Haylee to our family.


Here's a new picture of Meg, enjoying some snuggle time on the couch with Mo, the cat!

Things quieted down at our house once Angel (Joanna's pup, with a cleft lip) moved on to her new home.  Angel and Meg had a lot of fun playing together, and so Meg had to find new playmates with Angel gone!


Dodger has now moved on to his "forever home" with Phil & Susan Stonesifer.  Here's a picture of the three of them at our house, when they were just getting to know each other.

We made the decision to retire Dodger from breeding after two of his puppies ended up with patella problems.  It wasn't an easy decision, as we suspected that the patella problems actually came from the mother of the puppies, but in the end we decided that removing Dodger from our breeding program was the safest thing to do to ensure that our future litters are healthy.

There are more changes to come around here...
This Spring, Pipa will be going to her forever home.  We had her spayed in the Fall of 2008 after deciding that it would just be too risky to breed her, given lingering questions about orthopedic issues with her and her father.

With Dodger gone and Pipa leaving soon, it's a pretty safe bet that 2009 will see the addition of some new faces to our breeding program.


Things have settled down a bit at our house now that Joanna's 2008 litter of pups has gone to their new homes.  Joanna delivered six beautiful puppies on September 9, 2008...  including the only two sable & white puppies that we've ever had in any of our litters.

It's a little difficult to see the subtle differences in the shades of the coats in that last picture...  they all pretty much look like red & whites in that photo.  But only the top four are, and the bottom two are sable & whites.  Here's a photo of Meg (at ten weeks old) that does a much better job of showing the black hairs mixed in with the lighter red hairs in her ears...  a classic sign that you are looking at a sable:

A November 2008 photo of Meg

Meg is a keeper!  The pick of the litter, she is only the third pup in the history of our breeding program that we've decided to keep for ourselves.  Read more about Meg, and see lots of photos, on her new web page.

One of the puppies, Angel, was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate.  We had to keep her a few weeks longer than the other puppies in order for her to have some surgery to fix the deformity.  Having Angel and Meg together for a few weeks after the other four puppies had gone to new homes was great!  It really made the transition easier for Joanna, Meg, Angel, and us, too!

On November 20th, Angel had the surgery to repair the cleft lip and cleft palate.  It was a challenging two hour procedure, but it went well.  She'll need one more surgery in about three months to complete the repairs.  Here's a before and after picture to give you a look at what was done in the November surgery.


Before the surgery
Notice the area below the nose on the right side

 


After the surgery
Things are looking much more "normal" in that area now.
I'm looking forward to getting another picture in two weeks, when the stitches come out.


You're going to see some big changes in our breeding program over the next year.  We've decided to retire two more of our dogs from breeding (one that never got started) in order to be sure that we are making the healthiest possible puppies in the coming years.  Two puppies from Reese & Dodger's 2007 litter ended up having patella problems...  so we spayed Reese last year and now we've decided to neuter Dodger, too.  I think the patella problems came from Reese's side of the pedigree, but I couldn't guarantee that...  so neutering Dodger seemed like the best way to ensure that we don't have other Zim pups with patella problems.  In a similar situation, we spayed Pipa this year after having orthopedic concerns about her and her famous father.  You can read the full story here.

This leaves us with Joanna as the anchor of our breeding program, and Meg as the one that we've got our hopes riding on for the future.  In 2009 you'll probably see two new faces added to our group...  once Pipa and Dodger go to their new homes.


Reese has gone to her new home.  We retired her from our breeding program in 2007 after a routine check by our Veterinary Ophthalmologist showed she had cataracts.  We had Reese spayed, had surgery done to remove the cataract in one eye, and fixed a problem with a fold in her lip.  With all that behind her now, it was time to place her in a good home.  We chose Wayne & Gail McMorran to be Reese's new owners.  They live only about ten minutes away, so we will definitely be seeing lots of Reese in the future.


Reese with her new owners

A lot of people are shocked when they hear about us re-homing any of our dogs.  The reason that we have to do this is that the zoning regulations in our neighborhood only allow us to have five adult dogs on our property.  Because we always spay or neuter any dog in our breeding program that fails a health test or has puppies with serious genetic health problems...  we would have long ago ended up with absolutely no dogs that could ever be bred if we had kept all the ones that we retired from breeding.  The only way to keep our breeding program alive and still remain in this house is to re-home our dogs once they retire from breeding...  so we can bring in a new dog to take their place in our breeding lineup.  In many ways, we're actually happy about that 5-dogs-only policy...  because we've been to the homes of a few breeders that keep every dog forever, and after a while they end up with 100 dogs on their property and the only ones that get much attention are the few that are making puppies.  We think placing our retired dogs in new homes works out much better for the dogs.

Here's a photo of Reese just a few days prior to undergoing cataract surgery.

The Veterinary Ophthalmologist requested that we shave off the hair on her ears prior to the surgery, so I thought I would get this one last photo of her with a beautiful full coat before I had to ruin it.  If you scroll down the page a bit, you'll find the information that I posted earlier this year about Reese's cataracts and how we had to remove her from our breeding program.


shop at Amazon.com Planning on doing some shopping online?

All purchases through the Amazon.com link on the left will generate a small commission for our family.  It's a simple way you can thank us for taking the time to keep this web site updated, and it helps us to fund little things like the equipment that brought you the PuppyCam.  We're hoping to be able to do some upgrades to provide better quality live pictures for our Spring litter.

We thank you very much, and hope your new year will be filled with many Cocker kisses!





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