AOK The Best

The BEST? Yes . . .

At the age of 66, on October 14th 2011, ALFRED left us behind for a better world. He was survived by me, his wife of 48 years, and sons Alfred O’Neal King, Jr. (O’Neal) and William Paul King (Bill). He adored his 5 grandsons; Kent, Paul, Brandon, Eli & Logan. He passed away from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. Although not fully confirmed until 2005, he had been diagnosed at very early onset in 2002. At that time, his mother lost her battle with the same condition. We had been her primary care-givers for a decade. Since all possible treatment was begun early, he was able to live productively through the spring of 2011. He was aware of his mental limitations and often told folk that he had Alzheimer’s and knew he tended to repeat himself. Although he began to loose his physical capabilities in that last year, he remained happy till the end. When the end came; I was truly amazed at how few people knew of or realized his condition. FIRST, I want to convey the depth of my gratitude to all who have contacted me with all the wonderful condolences and memories shared. The resounding comments are of his kindness, affection, sweetness, smile, loving nature and obvious happiness. As the effects of his illness grew stronger, he held onto his love of God. HE walked ME through my time of deepest despair and of questioning God’s Love. We were two halves of a whole – I lost a vital part of me. I discovered that the mind can prepare but the heart cannot. Alfred King was truly a beloved person. He referred to our congregation as “my church family”; as an individual entity. His passing has given me a new understanding of their love. He was always especially attentive to the widows, full of small compliments and hugs. One ‘brother’ tucked a large bill into my hand and said, “I’m just returning in kind.” I continue to learn of so many kindnesses he preformed without fanfare or acknowledgement. One of the main things I have learned in counseling since his passing is to not put him on a pedestal by seeing only the good and perfect about him. I do know that I will never be as “good” a person as he was. In memory of him, I cannot fail to give credit to his Christianity. To him, it was much more than following the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments. Christ taught the Beatitudes as the way in which the Christian can actually live by the Ten Commandments. Just think of it along the lines of a Christians Bill of Rights. Alfred lived by the beatitudes as set out in Matthew, Chapter 5. Here are some of his notes……… Blessed = Given and Giving Joy Poor in Spirit = Humble Meek = Long Suffering and Example Led Pure in Heart = Sincere, Honorable Peacemaker = Others before Self Persecuted = “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”. He literally DID live the instruction to “Turn the other cheek”. I was often amazed at his ability to face one who had clearly wronged him with a smile, and love, and to really have forgiveness in his heart. With his lopsided grin he would tell me that if there was forgiveness or contrition in their hearts they would understand and if not… they would just think he was crazy... and if they were truly malicious and hard hearted people, they would cringe and wait for a retaliation that never came… and besides there would be nothing he could say or do that would be worse for them… mainly, arguments and repeated explanations would not change their minds. Confrontation was simply not a part of him. His notes on Ephesians 5:18-23 talk about being filled with the Sprit, having a song in his heart, having an attitude of thankfulness, and submitting to one another. His notes also referred to Galatians 5:22-23, listing the nine fruits of the Spirit… These were part of his nature and were displayed in his personality! Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Humility, and Self-Control His devotion to the breeding, development and enhancement of the Llewellin Setter throughout five decades; has made them what they are today. The most resounding assurances I have been given is that ‘His personality as well as his absolute love of his Llewellins are what has made them what they are today.’ The Llewellin Setter has become a reflection of him. For him there could be no greater epitaph to celebrate his life. I miss his song and hold on to his amazing love for all. Drenda


Alfred O’Neal King, Sr. – A Tribute of Love – By: Drenda King

Alfred O. King
Alfred O. King - Farm Cotton Plant, Arkansas. 1st Llewellin Setter - Priscilla Kay Dawn

On March 21st, 1945, he was literally born on the farm home place as were 3 brothers before him and 1 after. The family moved to ‘town’ while he was in high school. He was the Valedictorian of his graduating class in 1963. The summer following his graduation he went to the IBM ‘Computer School’ in Memphis, TN before attending college in the fall. At that time a computer filled a huge, sterile room and issued out nothing but punch cards. How many of you remember your utility bills from that time period? His study was to program those computers to do that one thing. He came away with some amazing job offers that he knew were not for him. He was a people person and an outdoorsman. He had a desire for a dog like those his two youngest uncles talked about from their growing up years; the dogs that his Grandfathers had. That was his slogan from year one. With the help of the two older men he bird-hunted with, he searched out his first Llewellin Setter. She was named “Priscilla Kay Dawn” and cost a whole $75.00. Alfred’s Dad threw a fit and said, “Son, you don’t pay money for a dog you trade for one!” All I have is a hand written pedigree on her. She was a cross of Bondhu and Wind’em and American lines. I do not have her formal pedigree as it along with all his first few years of info was lost in a house fire we suffered at the old farm home place. I do have this photo his mom had of them. The bird hunting trips of this trio led him to Mr. Anderson in Beebe, AR who had a Llewellin Setter male. This first litter led to an ad in “Sports Afield” or was it “Field & Stream”, which I believe costs a whole $35.00. When the ad hit publication; a trip to the end of the lane to the mail box provided a BAG of mail in response. The litter was advertised at a conservative $50.00 each. From then on it was history. He had found a way to prove to his Dad that you could pay money for a good Bird-Dog and afford to buy MORE!

Alfred O. King
Alfred O. King Cotton Plant, AR Working with first pups

We traveled across the south in quest of Llewellin Setters. ‘The ‘American Lines’ he acquired during this time would have been extinct in their purity had he not gathered them together. Mr. L. V. Doane in Memphis, TN was his guide in this quest. There were many to be found, but they were just all over the place. Even back then, it was hard to find a pure American line-bred Llewellin (without recent Bondhu crosses). In truth, Alfred’s first few Llewellins were of crosses. If not for the stock of Blizzard and Bomber lines that L.V. maintained I do not think it could have been done. He knew and rattled off pedigrees verbatim from memory and knew where to find the source and introduced Alfred to a group of old time Llewellin enthusiasts. Many of these sources were scattered across the US. Alfred methodically sought out more to widen in the TonyO and Royacelle lines. In the late 60’s, we acquired a pair of full Dashing Bondhus from Vincent Giqcoli in New York. He had imported the trained pair from Chris Sorenson in 1967; Dashing Jesshue Bondhu and Dashing Swon Bondhu. His dad just shook his head when Alfred told him he had insured the pair with Lloyds of London!

Alfred O. King
Dashing Jesshue Bondhu

A short time later we acquired a pair in the same manner from Mr. Hunt in Texas; Dashing Count Bondhu and Dashing Kay Bondhu. I just have to tell you about this one part of our lives……. Our house burned in 1967 and we literally lost every material possession. Alfred’s family had a large row-crop farm. Since the crops were laid by; Alfred took a job with our brother-in-law as a Boiler Maker in the Kansas City area. SO, he built a mobile kennel on an old house trailer frame – THAT’S RIGHT – the dogs moved WITH us. His third job turned out to be raw construction. Those heights ended that career quickly. So back to Cotton Plant we went with our dogs in tow. He was never one to ‘work’ at something he didn’t love.

Dashing Count Bondu Registration
Dashing Count Bondu Registration

He continued by concentrating on locating direct descendants from Chris Sorenson’s breeding; without outcross to the American Lines throughout the 70’s and 80’s. Dr. Stephenson in Fayetteville, AR, H. T. Helms in Jacksonville, AR and Dick and Gaylon Biggs from Paragould, AR had also directly imported several. In gathering these dogs together he established the base of what is today’s Dashing Bondhu lines.

Alfred O. King
Alfred O. King Cotton Plant, AR Working with first pups

The broad base of imported bloodlines is what has made the Bondhus of today such a wide and sound group of Llewellins. Lloyd Jones must be attributed for the importing and development of the Advie bloodlines from Scotland. Again, Dick Biggs must be attributed for his continued use of the breeding of Dr. Stevenson lines as well as for the importing and breeding of the Count and Girard lines. Yet again, the Bondhus of today would not be what they are without Dick Biggs and Dr. E.C. Bickers who imported from both Scotland and Ireland and bred and developed the IrishKing Machad as well as the Assrah bloodlines. Alfred would be the first to tell you that if not for the work of the earlier breeders, his work would not have been possible. Alfred had no idea he would be the only one to gather, group and most importantly, maintain these bloodlines. Although it was a conscious effort on his part to broaden the blood bases; he never thought his breeding would have as much impact. He often crossed the American and Import bloodlines. The offspring made outstanding field dogs. At the same time he kept the breeding of the lines distinct in order to perpetuate the two groups with distinction. During the 70’s & 80’s it was die-hard Llewellin enthusiasts such as these and many more not mentioned by name that maintained this base. The media blitz during that period was that “if it is not from field-trial stock -- it is NOT a Bird-Dog!” Of course it took a while for folks to figure out that you couldn’t foot hunt with what a field trial dog had become. In 2000 the distinction was very wide between the two types of Bird-Dogs; the average man’s field, foot-hunting Bird-Dog and generally the ‘rich man’s’ hired out workforce for Field Trial dogs. And the gap is even wider between the two today than it was in 2000 since one is no longer allowed to shoot a bird in an AF sanctioned field trial. In the late 90’s, Alfred began a concerted effort to re-establish foot-hunting field trials for Llewellins only that would be sanctioned by American Field through the Llewellin Setter Association he established. The association was begun solely from his clientele. The primary goal of this association was to establish fellowship between Llewellin Owners. That effort ultimately stepped on too many toes and was the root of his downfall. We first shipped dogs thru REA Express on railroad lines out of Brinkley, AR and then out of Pine Bluff, AR. A hand made crate was constructed of plywood and chicken wire. There was no such thing as getting copies made. Electric typewriter, HAH! We had a little Sears Roebuck copier that was heated by a light bulb and made a master on a heavy carbon paper. This paper was impressed onto a jell coating and miraculously after turning the crank - you had a COPY. You sure cannot tell by the spread eagle dog for markings that he was a true artist in oil painting.

Field Dog Stud Book Registration
Field Dog Stud Book Registration

In 1969 we moved to Pine Bluff, AR. This litter was whelped there in 1970 and was evidently his 39th litter bred. All correspondence was still done by mail. In 1979 we moved to Faulkner County and leased an 80 acre farm outside Vilonia with first option to buy. In 1984 family greed busted that option and we had to quickly search for an alternative. We were blessed with finding a small acreage with access to a very large farm and training grounds at Pickles Gap north of Conway. During this period of time his ‘career’ choice had changed once again. As a farmer he was never one to be idle after the crops were laid by. In the early farm days his ‘winter job’ was commercial fishing. He loved it and was extremely good at it. Once again it allowed time for his first love of training and working bird-dogs. He opened King Fish Market and operated that for a decade.

King Fishing Market
King Fishing Market

Twenty years ago in 1992 Alfred wrote his book, “The Llewellin Setter, Origin and Historical Development” during our time at Pickles Gap. For him it was a pleasure of Love. Just as he had gone about acquiring dogs he searched out any and all documentation to be found in the printed word on the Llewellin Setter. I think the format he decided on was perfect. It is obviously derived from personal opinions of each given writer. It is very often contradictory. There is no way to know from historical opinion what was correct. In the format he used he presented all that he found on a given subject; concluding with presenting his opinion but left it to the reader to draw their own personal conclusion. Meanwhile, at Pickles Gap, I accidentally began the second Antique Mall in the state of Arkansas. We never had so much fun in our lives until we sold out and moved to the farm. After all the careers we had had between us, this was perfect! Alfred was able to combine the local buying around the working of his dogs. He trained many a dog over his years and the antique business allowed him the flexibility to do what he had always wanted. In 1997 we bought a farm in Enola, AR and made the final move in January of 2000. We were to be here till time was done. The buying trips we made ranged to the states all around us plus a few more. We found tons of Llewellin stuff and documentation. He began his book as learned in high school on reference note cards. He turned his cards into a computer program called First Choice. Our first computer had to be booted by disc and I remember when a Program Menu became available! It was amazing. When you turned on the computer the menu was on screen instead of the C prompt and you just clicked on the program you wanted to use. Amazing; a choice of 2 programs was available with a touch. My son had taught me Lotus spreadsheet for use in the shop! We had no idea what .com meant! Amazing but this book was written before access to the internet.

IrishKing Bondhu Ashly
Alfred O King, Sr. / IrishKing Bondhu Ashly, Sire of OLN's "Hank" "Hunting With Hank"

The ‘kid’ at the print shop kept telling us we needed to get a web page. Alfred asked me what that was and I said I didn’t know. That is how Llewellin.com got started. Hard to believe that it was so long ago that the word Llewellin had not been taken! We were blessed that Tim did the whole thing. It was several years before he taught me to update the litter photos on my own. The litter sheets were all done by Alfred’s hand up until this time. He still continued to do ALL the correspondence preparation, presentation and mailing. There have been many milestones in our lives. The highlight of our lives was the move to the farm in 2000. It was a good thing we made it when we did. There was no home on the property so we started with what was a five year old dairy barn. It was health department approved and of concrete and fiberglass and most importantly a huge septic system. We converted the 20 X 20 tank room into a one room ‘cabin’ and lived in it one year while constructing the kennel runs and moving the dogs. The heated and aired milking area became the puppy whelping room and a real laundry room! It was a slow process for sure. On Christmas Eve we moved into our bedroom above the cabin and the cabin became our KITCHEN as well as still being the office and sitting area by day! BUT I had 2 full baths. What a gift that was. For the next several years we continued to build more living space. Our office and sunroom were under construction when Dez visited in 2000 and recorded “Hank’s Homecoming”. We were pretty much through construction by 2002. In 2005 the final living room was erected at the front and is made of over 100 year old logs notched pine logs. We didn’t need the space but Alfred had located those logs while in the Antique business and was determined to use them. There is SOOO much more I want to tell you about him but there are really not enough pages in the world. Among the legacy he left is research for the history of the Llewellin Setter as it evolved in the US. He was always working on his “TRAINING” book specifically for the temperament of the Llewellin Setter. This work evolved from his notes as he completed many personal conversations discussing how to simplify training without all the commercial ‘bells & whistles’ that are available for sale. He felt most of these are not necessary for the working of the Llewellin Setter. Someday in tribute I will finish both of these projects. I miss him so.


Farm

New Farm - Before
New Farm - Before

 

New Farm - After
New Farm - After

 

 

 

The office and Den look over the acreage of the farm. I still see him spending endless hours grooming those fields for the perfect working his beloved dogs from this view. Alfred was pleased by his dogs. The only thing he was more protective of and had more pride in was his FAMILY. I regret that I cannot add many more photos. They tell the story of Alfred because he was always the one behind the camera always capturing the things he loved.

 


Grandsons - Logan, Eli, Paul, Brandon, Kent
Grandsons - Logan, Eli, Paul, Brandon, Kent

The following is a copy of the Eulogy presented at his funeral service by Alfred’s Grandsons:


William Kenneth King: age 23

Growing up, my papaw was one of my heroes. He could light up a room like nobody’s business. No matter where we went, he knew someone. He’d always greet them with a smile and a handshake. He always knew how to make anyone feel special. He really knew how to make you feel loved. He gave the world two wonderful sons who then gave him 5 more wonderful grandsons. We all loved him dearly. But the love for Alfred King is so much bigger than that. He is beloved by people all over the world. From Arkansas to New Zealand, someone knows who Al King was, and cherished his friendship. But even thought he knew all of these people; he always made me feel like I was one of the most important things in the world. We had our ‘special’ things – from taking me to the Waffle House after we had done “official dog business” to letting me sit in his lap and drive his truck. He was always doing something that he knew I would enjoy. Making other people happy was what he did best. He treated us all like we were the single most important person in the world. He made us all smile. One of those wonderful rays of sunshine that is sent to grace our world is gone. We love you papaw; you will be missed. Kent with baby Jack


William Paul King, Jr. age 21

No matter how close you were to Alfred King, one thing was apparent: He made a unique effort to make you feel special! As a kid I remember him walking up to, what to me were complete strangers, and kissing them on the cheek after an over the top embrace. You see, he had this way of making you feel special and loved. My papaw was a giving man. He understood that the way to live life was not to get what you could, but to give what you could. To those he loved it was even more. I can remember countless hours in my younger years, playing poker at that big oak table with my Granny and Pappaw. There was no money or physical value to win or lose, but that didn’t matter. There was love and quality time, and more importantly my Pappaw was spending time with ME. Although his time is gone I know that the only thing he may wish he could still do is give more than his 66 years had time for. What I hope he can realize is that he already has. He has shown me, and others, how to live a fulfilling life. And I hope and pray that I can hav¬¬¬e the impact on another person’s life that he has had on mine. I will always miss you Pappaw, and thank you for showing me how to live.


Brandon Reece King, Age 20

Brandon with the same Jack Pappaw was an extremely important person in my life. He spoiled me rotten and showed me how to be a good man. Sometimes I felt like he knew everybody. People would come across the room just to say hello, almost everywhere we went. He was a trusting friend, a good businessman, a talented dog-trainer, and best of the all, a Grandfather. He always made me feel special; you never knew what you would get to do we you went to his house. He didn’t take us to the swimming pool; he took us to the swimming hole! Whatever the event was he was always there with his camera. AND I will never forget the grace and welcoming he gave to everyone he knew.


Elijah O’Neal King, age 12

He took me quail hunting. He let me drive in his lap; the truck, the tractor and the 4 wheeler. Except he really didn’t like us to ride the 4-wheelers; I think that was all Brandon’s fault. He was the best Grandpaw a boy could have. When I was little I called him Pappaw Dawg. They say I have a strong southern accent. He taught me how to let a puppy point a quail wing when I was 3 years old. He says I am the best of all the kids at it! He took me fishing and hunting all the time. He taught me to shoot skeet and Jack would retrieve the FEW I missed. He threw baseballs for me and Jack would retrieve them. We did everything!


Logan Andrew King, Age 10

Logan with the same Jack shown with ‘little’ Kent ……….. He played with me a LOT. Sometimes I would let him win. But most of the time I would just win, most of the time. He always said I was fun AND funny. He would also let me play with inni dog I wanted to. When I was little, I was too little to holed big dogs so when I got dogs to big for me I would acksadintle choke them. He never got mad at me. Puppies point the quail wing for me really good.


Alfred O’Neal King, Jr. “Memories”

Mamma, I thoroughly enjoyed the ‘proof’ package. I cried and cried as I read through all of it. Boy, do I miss him. I wanted to tell how everyone who ever met him knew that they were special to him… … and I wanted to tell about how no matter how far away I ran in a track meet, played a game, had a concert, he was there… … about just sitting on the deck with ya’ll in the evenings… … so much to say about my Daddy… … I think this is want I want to say. But there is so much more I could fill a book myself on what he meant to me and what I know he meant to the Llewellin Setters and many, many people in all walks of his life… … Most folks will tell you that I am a Mamma’s boy. While that is true I have always been just as close to my Daddy. In fact our entire family is close, always has been as long as I can remember. My father got it from his mother and since my mother’s family is also so close; I just figured they had always been that way. Then only a few years ago my mother’s brother told me that they hadn’t always been so close and affectionate – until – my father married into the family. They had been the typical shake hands, pat on the back sort. As far as I knew it has always been natural to hug and kiss everyone in the family. Until his last my Daddy always hugged and kissed me whenever and wherever we met and again before we parted. I am blessed that I, my brother and cousins were all raised that way. I am blessed that my sons were as well. That is the legacy I’m proud he left me, showing me how to love my Savior and my children.

William Paul (Bill), Alfred O'Neal King, Jr. (O'Neal), King's Bomber II - 1998, Conway Arkansas
William Paul (Bill), Alfred O'Neal King, Jr. (O'Neal), King's Bomber II - 1998, Conway Arkansas

I grew up as a kennel boy. He had gotten his first Llewellin about 6 months before I was born so I have literally had, or been around these wonderful dogs my entire life. All my life they were fun, each one could be so unique. They had personalities. They were never just a chore but a true pleasure. After my brother and I left for college, Daddy noticed a subtle difference in his dogs, in particular the pups. They weren’t as ‘friendly’; you know, all over you like pups usually are. He had always told folks that his dogs are meant to be handled often and as part of the family. Side track here… His own father always had deer hounds and the prevailing sentiment and proof was that you didn’t handle or make a pet of one of them. They had to perform in a pack not ‘with’ you. In fact he spray painted P KING on the sides of each hound and after season all hunters in the area would get around to returning at least the worthless ones. All the males were named Joe and all the females were named Sue. Anyway, back to the point… Daddy attributed my and my brothers leaving home as to the lack of the pups acting like puppies. So what does he do? A young boy who lived down the road – Mikie – who was around 10 – had stopped by on the walk from the bus stop asking to do odd jobs to make money. So my Daddy hired him to come over 3 or 4 times a week to play with the puppies. I can still hear my Daddy telling of Mikey’s response, “Let me get this right. You want to PAY me; to play with your puppies?” And my Daddy did just that. That was almost 30 years ago and he never quit ‘finding’ kids to play with puppies. My father once told me that most people buy or get a puppy and then have a dog for the next 10 – 15 years. I always had PUPPIES. Now my children, my nephews, my niece’s kids all want a puppy to play with whenever they go to Pappaw and Granny’s house. Usually that is their first request after all the hugs and kisses. Dez Young had a segment in each of his shows where he always closed with, “And remember, never, ever spoil your birddog.” as the camera showed Hank or Dash lounging with him. He told me once the idea for that came from talking with my father who had told him early on that this special breed was meant for that type of companionship. I was never the wing shot both my father and brother were. Like most true bird hunters that I have ever talked to, we know that is not what bird hunting is really all about anyway. To watch the dogs work and holding your breath when they’re locked on point, anticipating the flush of the bird or birds; and never being quite ready for it even when you know without a doubt the birds are there. That is what it is all about. In my father’s later years he rarely took a gun in the field; except for training of course. He was armed with his camera. He was always more excited to watch his dogs and my brother and I, then later our boys than shooting himself. I understand that now with my own boys, especially Eli, who would say, “Dad why didn’t you shoot?” Like my Daddy I had been too enraptured on watching them and their reactions to even think about preparing to shoot myself. I honestly believe my Daddy’s best moments were to be in the field with us and his dogs. Daddy always said he had rather train up a young dog that ‘go’ bird hunting.

Alfred, O'Neal, Kent, Eli, Logan
Alfred, O'Neal, Kent, Eli, Logan

Well, second best, my Daddy’s love for my Mamma made the time with her his best I am sure. My Daddy always told us he loved us. The last time I visited with my father was a week after my 47th birthday. He was starting to go downhill fast in July with the intense heat and Mamma told me at the first that it would probably be the last good visit. Just before he and my mamma left I ran out to their truck and over to his passenger side door. He opened the door and I hugged and kissed him one last time. Before they drove off he said, “I love you sonny boy.” I knew that he knew who I was because that is what he had always called me. I thank God regularly for that blessing. Although on the way home he said to my Mamma, “That was a really good visit we had with your Daddy.” I am told I resemble the younger version of that Pappaw and we had spent a lot of the visit talking about his commercial fishing days and building nets by hand. Now for my WORST bird-dog memory! I was seven and Daddy was washing down concrete runs. We had just moved to Pine Bluff and these were the first concrete runs Daddy had ever built and he was proud of them but that had to STAY clean. I begged to be allowed to do it instead. From that day it became my job! Many times I rued the day that I asked, not only asked, but begged. Next to that was the time I got a spanking because I had forgotten to water the dogs on the day it was my turn. My father worked what seemed to me, long hours back then and my brother and I tended the dogs after school. One week he fed and I watered the next we switched. Actually, Daddy didn’t go into work until late because he worked dogs early. Either way he was gone when we left for school and compared to other dads he worked long hours. Getting in late Daddy went out to check his dogs as usual. It had been hot and one was without water. That was over the line not because he loved the dogs more than me, but because he cared for them. He never could stand to watch or think of an animal suffering. My Daddy never ran a puppy farm. Long after a dog could either hunt or reproduce they were still tended to with exceptional care. Yes, some faced the day when they had to be put down but it was always due to the quality of their lives. They would have their choice spots and receive special diets but they were born there and they would die there as comfortably as possible. Their beloved Jack lived a long life of 15 ½ years. They often joked with friends that he was their youngest son, teasing us that he was our other brother. In fact Mamma always said Jack raised each of her grand-kids; as is evident in some of the photos. But that is just how much he loved his birddogs. My father told me when I was quite young that when he was growing up ‘bird hunting’ was considered to be a gentleman’s sport. To know my Daddy you would know that that was one they hit right on the mark. I well know that no one can ever be or live perfectly. I was blessed with a Grandmother, Mamma’s mom, which was a close as God ever made. My Daddy’s love for all other people made his a close second. Try to live life my Daddy’ way; love God first, your family, and your bird-dog and you will always find happiness. I miss you Daddy, there will always be an empty space O’Neal Before I add the next section I have to tell you how much of a blessing both of my sons were as I faced Alfred’s decline. O’Neal was here working the grounds and the dogs for Alfred’s last two good years. He will tell you that he thanks God for that period of time he had with us. These were not easy years as Alfred fought against loosing himself. You see, people with this disorder, for too long a period of time know they are disappearing. For someone like Alfred who built, maintained and worked on so many projects in any given day it had to have been terrible to face. I could see his inner struggle as he watched someone else do what he could no longer. Billy Paul was forced by life’s circumstances to be my rock during our last year with Alfred. Like many men during 2011 the ‘economy’ found him unemployed for the first time in his life. Finding the good that God provides can be very difficult when you are faced with loosing the one you love by increments. Alfred knew that what was him -- was fading away and could still tell me that the Lord was in charge. My Billy Paul was the one that was here when Alfred no longer knew my name. It is extremely hard to thank God for this period of time but I know Alfred never lost faith. His strength was and continues to be my true blessing.


A life with Birddogs and a wonderful Dad

I miss my Daddy. He loved us unconditionally. There were birddogs around our house before my brother and I were born. I never knew a life without feeding, watering, building, training and general “tending” until I went to college. After school, my friends would go to the Dairy Queen or something. I had about 2 hours worth of “chores” that were to be done. We were well rewarded for our effort. He would buy bottle calves and buy all the milk and feed, but my brother and I split the entire sales price. I was giving puppies their shots when I was in the 1st grade. He kept us busy and we learned many lessons in the process. The biggest being; I never want a 3 acre garden again… THAT was NOT worth the proceeds! Daddy had a love and passion for the Llewellin Setter that was unbelievable. He loved them all. I remember the 70’s and 80’s when everybody only wanted a Pointer or English Setter that would cover ground. “Cover ground” was ridiculous; taking off in a straight line and not seeing the dog again for 30 minutes. We had friends with some of those. If it didn’t come back, they would say “He’s down on birds.” I would be standing there thinking, “Yeah, where?” “What good is that doing?” I guess my fondest time was on the farm in Vilonia. When we moved there we also moved 50 sets of cages. No the dogs weren’t in cages but my birds were. All pure bred bantams + pigeons + ducks + geese -- Just as he had searched out Llewellins, together we found birds and Daddy bought me a trio of any new breed I could find. I studied the genetics as Daddy did with his dogs. He bought us a ‘fur’ dog. After Mamma could stop laughing at Molly, a ‘rare’ Redbone/Airedale cross (she really was not anywhere near pretty) she said she finally had to agree with Alfred’s dad… “You paid money for this?” Daddy loved to hunt anything IF it was WITH a dog; IF his own feet were moving. The only time I ever saw him enjoy sitting while hunting was for Dove. Even for Dove one of the Llewellins went along to gather the fallen. He turned us over to our uncles for Deer and Duck hunting.

 

Daddy would come home every Friday wit¬¬¬h a case of 8 shot. It would usually be gone before the week was up. We would load up 6 dogs at a time, turning out 3 at the first spot and the other 3 at the second. After lunch, we would swap out with some fresh dogs. During bird season, I would hunt most every day after school and do my chores after dark. Daddy turned me on to the great outdoors and bird hunting. For that, I will always be thankful. My folks raised several kids that were not their own. Every summer you never knew who would come and stay & stay with us. They took legal custody of two. They were both older kids that ‘needed’. The little girl in this photo is the daughter of the first they took in. She was 9 months old when Daddy went to Texas and got her and her Mom. They lived with us till she started school. Meantime came another and another. Those were the years at Pickle’s Gap. She was the first and only grand-daughter and few knew that she really was a great-niece. The Llewellin is alive and well today because of my Daddy, due to his extensive labor of maintaining all the lines distinctly. If it were not for his passion and the Llewellin breeders of the 40’s, 50’s & 60’s passing on their stock and literature, the gene pool would have been bred out, as breeding a Llewellin Setter to an English Setter results in the offspring being registered as an English Setter. I’m not saying it would be extinct, just severely depleted. He knew and loved each of his dogs. He studied and analyzed each of his dogs. In ‘replacing’ one in the family line they had to have the ‘look’ as well as the ability of the parent. You can look at Mack and know his daddy was Paul; you could look at Paul and know that his daddy was Ashly. And on and on it went. My Daddy was a paper person. Although it often looked a mess; he would look at you like you were strange and tell you it was necessary because it was records; and he was meticulous with his records. He spent endless hours on the conditioning of his fields for the training and working of his dogs. He would tell you that he would rather train up a young dog than go bird hunting. The Llewellin Setter was his passion in life. His family was the love of his life. My Daddy was a Christian. My Daddy was a Llewellin enthusiast. My Daddy was a wonderful father. I miss my Daddy. Your son, Bill