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 Quality Cocker Spaniels Since 1961


 About Us

Richard Allen Mattson
September 5, 1935 to February 4, 2012

Red and Darlene Mattson

Penny Creek Farms

Darlene Mattson


Cell: 253.381.5233



Richard “Red” Allen Mattson was welcomed into heaven on February 4, 2012 after battling kidney cancer for several years. Red had a kidney removed in 1992 and was given 4 months to live but the Lord had other plans. He was a strong and courageous man, who fought the good fight and will be greatly missed by those he loved.

Red was preceded in death by his father (Runar) mother (Eleanor) and sister (Johanna).

He is survived by his truly beloved wife of 37 years, Darlene. The two were inseparable friends, who spent their time in business, travel, breeding/showing Cocker Spaniels and Labradors, hunting, flying, farming and ministry. Together they worked hard, played often, and shared themselves with those they loved.

Red leaves behind his children Kimberly, Lewis and his wife Lynnea, Wally and his wife Bonnie, and Kathleen and her husband Eric. He was also the proud grandparent of Makenzie, Madison, Jacob, Julia, Lewis, Joey, Lily and Claire.

Red was born in Palmer, Alaska on September 5, 1935 to Runar and Eleanor Mattson. He was the first baby born to the pioneers of the Matanuska Valley. His mother was a very courageous young wife who left civilization as she knew it to follow her husband in search of a better life for their soon to arrive family. The family lived in Alaska until WWII and then Runar sent his wife and children back to Wisconsin to stay with family until the war was over. At an early age Red learned to love the outdoors, something that flavored his life throughout.

Red was a graduate of Edmonds High School, and later joined the Army. He proudly served our country, primary stationed in Japan as a Russian interpreter. He spoke both Russian and Japanese languages. He loved baseball from the time he was young, and played regularly throughout his time overseas. Red continued to play fastpitch well into his 50’s and was very proud of the years he played for semi pro team Peterbuilt. Later he played slow pitch with the church league and coached the younger players. Red’s love affair with the game never ended. If a game was on and he was home, he was watching.

After his military service, Red attended the U of W where he was pursuing a degree in botany. During high school Red had worked at Hoyt Nursery where they were raising exotic Orchids. Red planned to join Mr Hoyt after graduating and eventually take over the business. Runar had other plans for his son and convinced Red to join him in the construction business building homes and apartments in the Edmonds and Lynnwood area. Red later went on to commercial development, building sites such as the Mill Creek Golf Course & Country Club, the original Seahawks training facility, shopping centers, restaurants, apartments, condos, boarding kennels and vet clinics as well as other professional buildings, both locally in Washington, Colorado and Arizona. He also built farms, irrigation systems, schools and hospitals in Libya and Nigeria. Later in life, he traveled extensively through Europe and Africa where he ventured in international trade.

Red was very involved with civil rights in the 60’s-70’s. He helped several minority business owners organize their companies and get minority set aside contracts. He believed that we are all God’s children and should receive equal treatment.

Red loved flying small airplanes. He learned to fly float planes and later was licensed to fly planes with wheels. He comes by this love quite naturally as his mother was the first secretary for Alaska Airlines when their small office was housed at the golf course in Kenmore. He encouraged Darlene to learn to fly also as it was a greater safety factor to have a co-pilot on board when taking the whole family on trips.

Red also had a passion for farming. He loved raising Black Angus, chickens, harvesting crops and bailing hay. There was never a shortage of work on the farm, which he gladly shared with his wife and children. As long as they did it his way. Lol

Red’s other great love was hunting. It was a passion that was passed to him by his father, which he in turn passed on to his own boys, Lewis and Wally. From the time they were old enough to go, he would take them to the Pot Holes Reservoir to go duck hunting and fishing. Many fall weekends were spent with his close friends Russ, Wally, Marty, and many others.

In 1996, Red rededicated his life to the Lord and was baptized as an adult. He and Darlene were members of Church for all Nations in Tacoma which he also helped build. Together they led the Japanese exchange student programs, prison ministry and Angel Tree efforts. They were cell group leaders and headed up the 50 day Spiritual Adventure for several years. Red was head Usher at the original church prior to building the new facility.

In 2001 Red and Darlene renewed their wedding vows and hoped for another 25 years together. The last 4 years as Red battled the return of kidney cancer his faith was tested. He never wavered in his belief that God had a plan for good for him.

He will be remembered for his heart to help those in need, his goofy sense of humor, his quirky red suspenders, huge clip of keys, and his orange pocket cards with pens. He was courageous, always positive with a smile on his face, devoted husband, loving father and grandfather, adventurous, truly one of a kind and will be greatly missed.

Psalm 46 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear…”

Nehemiah 8:10 “The joy of the Lord is your strength…”

Psalm 118:14 “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.”

Darlene Mattson

Penny Creek Farms

Darlene Mattson


Cell: 253.381.5233


Darlene bred her first litter of champion sired Cocker Spaniels in 1961. Her education into the many hereditary health problems of Cockers began immediately. Shortly after the birth of her puppies, the mother dog developed epilepsy and later the champion sire developed cataracts. The puppies and mother dog were spayed and placed in pet homes, not to be bred. This was the first of five times to restart a breeding program.

She sought out more experienced breeders to help her establish a healthy bloodline and found Barbara Robins, Charan Kennels who was willing to co-own an outstanding quality female with her and teach her about ethical breeding practices.

There was no testing for eye diseases in the early 60’s, but Dr Yakely at Washington State University Veterinary School (WSU) was conducting a research project. He held his first public eye clinic in June of 1969. They tested 21 dogs at this clinic and found 19 were in various stages of developing cataracts. She again spayed/neutered these dogs and placed them in pet homes.

After cleaning out her breeding program for the second time, she found another bloodline that she believed to be relative free from eye problems. At this time she began to do outcross breedings and color cross breedings to dilute the gene pool. Since all cockers in the United States can be traced back to 4 dogs imported from England, it is pretty hard not to do close breedings. The color crosses have really helped to increase strength and vitality to her breeding program.

During the 70’s – 80’s she discovered that the eye diseases were not the only health problems to plague cocker spaniels. She also discovered Blood Factor X and von Willebrands Disease, low thyroid leading to cronic ear infections, degenerative disc disease and hip dysplasia .

She continue to screen all of her animals annually for these various health problems and only breed dogs that are free from these various health diseases. These health screenings have resulted in her restarting her breeding program 3 more times, for a total of 5 new starts in 40 years. At this time, she is about 15 years with no major occurrences of health problems. She is currently in a search for a new, unrelated stud dog to introduce into our breeding program.

The character of the Cocker Spaniel is tied to its history. Originally, the Cocker was bred as a gun or field dog, used mainly in England. These hunting dogs needed to have a high intelligence, be easily trained and have a calm temperament. This is still a good description of today’s well bred Cocker today: happy, smart, very loyal and loving. They are natural retrievers and love the water. After generations of not being bred to hunt birds, most Cockers show desire to hunt when taken to the field. They flush birds like the Springer Spaniel, but can be trained to point if hunted with pointers. Most Cockers can easily be trained to retrieve various articles and to play ball with their family.

The well bred Cocker Spaniel is the most friendly, out-going and loving dog that you have ever seen. They want to make friends with the world. They give unconditional love to everyone they meet. They want to please their owners, consequently they make excellent obedience dogs. Cockers make excellent house pets because of their small, compact size. However, they are far from fragile. They like all outdoor activities including hiking, boating, fishing and hunting. They make the ideal family companion, as their popularity confirms.

Due to the extreme popularity of the cocker over the last 50 years, there have been many dogs bred with little concern for health or temperament problems.

Because of this poor breeding, we see many cockers with severe health problems. The most common is blindness, bad ears and skin and poor temperaments. All of which could be avoided through health testing, selective breeding and avoiding inbreeding.

A responsible breeder is like an architect for the breed. They need to have a plan for breeding quality dogs, know the materials that they are working with (the bloodlines and health issues) and strive for constant improvement. The true breeder is always learning and sharing their knowledge with others, being an advocate and mentor for the breed.

A responsible breeder works only with healthy dogs that have been tested and are free from serious congenital and hereditary defects which are known in their breed. A responsible breeder maintains the best standards of health for their animals and their kennels. A responsible breeder is the guardian of their breed, insuring their survival into the future.


Darlene Mattson is a past President and Vice President of the Washington State Cocker Spaniel Club and is currently the AKC Education Chairperson. Darlene is also a member of the American Spaniel Club. She has been breeding, showing and training Cockers since 1961 and training all breeds since 1968. She has also bred Labrador Retrievers, German Shorthairs, Brittany Spaniels, English Setters and English Springer Spaniels. Darlene is experienced in obedience, field and service dog training. She is a volunteer at the local Humane Society and active in “Cocker Rescue”..

Darlene has operated boarding kennels and grooming shops since 1968. She has been the Region 10 Director for the American Boarding Kennel Assoc. (ABKA) and Chairperson for the Public Relations Committee and served on the Education Committee.

She was the Education Director for the Prison Pet Partnership Program at the Washington Corrections Center for Women in Gig Harbor, WA. She taught all breed grooming and kennel management skills to the inmates, enabling them, upon their release, to be successfully employed in the pet care industry. The program also rescued unwanted dogs and trained them as service dogs for individuals with physical disabilities. This program has received numerous awards and has been featured on several television programs, including “Unsolved Mysteries” and a PBS Special on Dogs.
Over the last thirty years, Darlene and her husband Richard (Red) who is a general contractor, have built nine kennel facilities. The most recent was a totally enclosed, Houndsquarters kennel building for the Prison Pet Partnership Program at the Washington Corrections Center for Women. This is the only women’s prison in the State of Washington. She is currently working with several other states to develop similar programs for them.


They are the parents of four grown children and have 7 grandchildren. They are committed Christians and strive to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. They believe that every area of their lives needs to be of the highest standards and should bring glory to God. They are members of “Church for all Nations” in Tacoma, Washington. With their church they have been involved with many community service projects and have coordinated Foreign Exchange Student Programs for 5 years.
They have been blessed with the opportunity to travel and do business in North America, Europe, Africa and now Asia. They enjoy meeting people from all cultures, making friends in many countries and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. 

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Phone: 253.988.7999

Last Updated on 9/3/2012

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