Love of Afgahns leads to two careers

Time Alexander

A rural Peoria woman’s love for dogs has led her to what she calls fulfilling careers as a breeder of champion Afghan hounds, canine obedience trainer and owner and operator of a kennel catering to discerning pet owners.

Melissa Morgan, who owns Greater Peoria Pet Resort Inc., at 9123 N. Radnor Road, can recall all 64 of the champion-bloodline Afghan pups she has helped bring into the world and matched with loving, responsible owners and fellow breeders.

“They’re like an extension of family to me,” said Morgan, who started her breeding business more than 20 years ago and has owned Peoria Pet Resort for more than 10 years.

“When I breed my dogs, I do what’s called ‘line breeding.’ I perform really comprehensive testing on the dogs, including checking their eyes, hips, elbows and thyroid, along with anything else possible to test. I want to make sure I’m doing my job as a breeder by bringing the best quality dogs possible into the world,” Morgan said.

Morgan’s love for the breed was evident as she frolicked with two 8-week-old Afghan pups, destined for owners in Argentina and Florida, on the expansive grounds of her business on a recent afternoon.

She spoke with contempt when asked about “puppy mills” that churn out various breeds of dogs for mass market retail stores.

“They are breeders who breed just for the sake of money,” said Morgan.

“I’ve never been in it for the money, but rather for the love of the dogs. I don’t breed many litters, and I keep most of what I breed.”

Morgan grew up loving a bunny, pony and various dogs and cats while being raised in a rural location, then moving into the city.

For more of this story see the 7/16/08 issue of the Peoria Times-Observer.