MMK Kids!

January 01, 2017

Happy New Year, everyone!

Morrill Kids

As we ring in 2017, I thought it would be nice to introduce you to some of the Marble Mountain Kennels kids from our own family, as well as other youngsters who have been involved in helping us out around the “farm” over the period of 18+ years that we have been in operation. (Pictured above from left to right are 4 of our own 5 kids: Lexi, James, Rienne and Cale)

Pete first moved from Southern California to the Scott Valley in the Marble Mountains to take over the directorship of a small Christian camp called Kidder Creek. At about that time he bought his first chocolate pointing Labrador Retriever puppy named Juneau. She turned out to be an amazing waterfowl and upland hunting dog, so Pete bred her to produce more pointing Lab pups.


When Pete’s firstborn daughter Cami (pictured above) was born, she joined him in his daily canine training. Almost from day one, Cami was a part of the little side business of Marble Mountain Kennels, hanging out in her daddy’s backpack at first and later toddling along to play with puppies or get slobbered on by the bigger dogs. But, although Cami liked dogs, she was perhaps more interested in hanging out with Dad than really being with the dogs.


Then, along came Lexi (pictured above), Pete’s second daughter. Lexi is a serious animal lover. Right from the start she had an affinity with puppies and dogs and is our family’s official puppy snuggler. Dirty paw prints, sloppy puppy kisses and noisy barks and whines never bother Lexi a smidge. As soon as she was old enough, she and her older sister were recruited into the job of daily puppy socialization play. She had no problem with this role, while her older sister Cami preferred to move on to tasks that required more of her natural leadership skills.


Next came Caleb (pictured above), whom we affectionately called “Buster” for awhile before “Cale” became his permanent nickname. Cale too became part of the puppy play team as soon as he was old enough, but he has always been more interested in hunting with the older trained dogs in the field than cuddling with small puppies. Today you can find Cale training dogs. He is an excellent canine trainer and handler. Dogs respect him and are quick to learn from this savvy hunter and dog officiando.

Cami, Lexi & Cale (In photo are 3 of our 5 kids: Cami, Lexi and Cale)

In 2007 Pete and Julie married and merged their families to add two more kids: Rienne and James. Rienne (pictured below) is Cale’s age and enjoys caring for small puppies. She has borne the majority of the responsibilities at Marble Mountain Kennels over the years as the other kids got involved in after-school sports and she did not. On any given day, Rienne can be found cleaning out kennel runs, overseeing puppy bath times, preparing immunizations for puppies, helping with dewclaw removal, feeding dogs, refilling water bowls, caring for ailing dogs and pups, washing dog dishes, you name it…. She may not exactly “love” the work, but she earns more money than any of our kids and she is an intelligent and shrewd saver and investor (thanks to her stepdad’s wise teaching).


James (pictured below) was only two when he joined the Morrill family and, frankly, was overwhelmed by all the dogs and puppies in Pete’s growing kennel business. He has never been especially keen on hunting with real guns and prefers Nerf and water guns. James is part of the daily puppy socialization play process and has the glamorous job of yard and lawn canine-related “landmine” removal. He’s also invaluable when it comes to puppy bath days and video/photo shoots as a puppy wrangler. James’ comment with regard to his work here at Marble Mountain Kennels was this: “Puppies bite and inflict pain.” (He’s a bit sarcastic and melodramatic.)


When I asked James to share a memory of working for Marble Mountain Kennels, he said, “I remember getting up at 1:30am to wake up puppies and encourage them to poop before loading them into the trailer to go down to Woodland for puppy pick-up days. Not fun.” (Yeah, so not all the work around here is exciting for everyone all the time...and I believe I already mentioned James' sarcasm.)

Kidder Creek Camp Staff

So, that’s it for our own Morrill family kids, but let’s not forget our kids’ various friends and random people around Scott Valley who enjoy visiting to play with puppies and get their “puppy breath” fix. Plus, over the span of 19.75 years that Pete ran Kidder Creek Camp, he easily recruited college-aged camp counseling staff (pictured above) to visit our home and play with puppies. The staff gave our kids a break, while they got some much-needed puppy time with no campers around. To this day, we still have former camp staff visit to play with puppies…and sometimes to visit us, as well!

Also camp-related were the Camp Hope children of domestic violence who came to Kidder Creek Camp to experience the great outdoors, get a brief respite from their troubled lives, and learn how to face their futures with renewed hope. For these youths, puppy time was far more than mere play; some even years later have said that holding and loving an innocent little puppy provided some degree of indescribably deep, lasting therapeutic inner healing in just a few moments.

Kidder Creek Camper

Now let’s get back to our final set of helper kids—our awesome neighbors. Three and a-half years ago, when both Kidder Creek Camp and our little hobby kennel business began to grow beyond all expectations, Pete and I prayed and felt like we should turn the camp over to new leaders and focus our attention more on Marble Mountain Kennels. We know it was the right decision and we have been abundantly blessed to have very responsible, good-natured animal loving kids nearby helping us out--kids like, Francie (pictured below with yellow puppy in basket) from the eastside of Scott Valley and Lily and Claire, daughters of the new Kidder Creek Camp director and his wife who moved in next door (pictured below with James) working for us. All three of these girls work for us during certain months of the year for weeks at a time after school, playing with puppies, putting collars on puppies, cleaning kennels, bathing puppies, wrangling puppies for video shoots, etc. Last, but not least, we have one of James’ friends named Garrett (pictured below wearing a mask while applying flea powder to puppies) who enjoys coming over to help us out from time to time, so I’d like to give him a shout out too.

FrancieLily, James and ClaireJames and Garrett

As of this time, that’s about it for our regular MMK kids. We work them hard, but they all do a super great job and are paid well, so we are proud and happy to have all of these extra willing hands around our place—and sometimes their friends, parents, grandparents, and siblings too, since no one can resist the chance to spend a little time holding a puppy!

Thanks again for reading!

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