For Christmas of 1965
Enola, Arkansas 2000 It is another century. For Christmas of 1965 I got the first Llewellin that began the foundation of King Llewellin Kennel. I am sure all of you know the words “I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free………” but how many of you know the opening lines, “If tomorrow all the things were gone; I’d worked for all my life. And I had to start again; with just my children and my wife”. I am not a stranger of starting over. I’ve started over with little more than nothing and my dogs more time than I have liked in my life and if I have to do it again... So be it! I was a student in college the day that the word came that President Kennedy was shot and killed. Soon after that my Dad was diagnosed with cancer. After semester I quit college and returned home to help on the family farm. We moved into the old home place and the next summer our first son was born. For Christmas of 1964 I got a hand made certificate from my wife that said if I could find it, I could have the Llewellin pup that I talked on and on about to Drenda. The one that would be just like the stories Uncle William told about my Grandpa’s dog and his bird hunting stories. This first Llewellin began the foundation of King Llewellin Kennel. Her name was Pricilla Kay Dawn, a 3 month old out of Dawn’s Far Horizon. I remember calling Boyce Askew, Postmaster of Sardis, MS the next fall to discuss her lack of progress. He gave me some instructions on training and very soon everything began to come together. As I have always said, “She taught ME how to hunt and basically trained herself.” My first litter of pups was bred from her to a stud in Beebe, AR belonging to Mr. Anderson. After breeding her I ran an ad for around $12.50 in Sports Afield. I was becoming a bit depressed as the pups grew and I had heard nothing from this ad. Then one day I went to the mailbox at the end of the lane and the box was absolutely full! Boy was I thrilled to tell my Dad that I had not wasted the $35.00 it took to buy her. Just after Christmas the following year our second son was born. The day I brought them home from the hospital, Bobby Cheshire, a young guy just about my age from Biscoe, AR came to see the pups from Prissy. From that visit a friendship between 2 young families and a quest for other Llewellins grew. Between us we located and often, as a 2 family group began road trips in order to search out and acquire more Llewellins from various places. Bobby and I went all the way to Arab, AL, to meet Dr. Barnard one of the old time breeders, who I got several of the first lines of the Royacelle blood. I eventually went back a bought the foundation head of the Royacelle line, old ROYACELLE himself at the age of about eight years old. I then located Mr. L. V. Doan in Memphis Tenn. In this process a friendship grew between our family and Mr. L. V. Doan. He was the most knowledgeable about the different strains or lines of the Llewellins there were at that time. To this day the man can recite a pedigree of any dog he ever had or knew. He had a goodly number of Bomber & Blizzard lines of dogs, of which I got several of my dogs from. L.V. knew about all of the strains of Llewellins and could recite you their pedigrees. Through L.V., I learned that Dr Ersig in Toledo Ohio bred and started the line of Blizzard dogs. I started corresponding with Dr Ersig and bought a couple of dogs from him. It was when Dr Ersig was very old; before he passed away he let me have some of his old dogs free (because I was one of the only young persons interested in the Llewellins. At that time all others my age and older were going over to the field trial dogs. I never did I just stayed with the Llewellins, because all I wanted was dogs to hunt with that would hunt with me. Being a farm boy living out on the farm in my parent’s old home place, I had an opportunity to hunt everyday during hunting season. Usually we had the crops gathered shortly after quail season came in. Back then, their would be 3 covies of quails (25 to 35 birds to a covey) on every 40 acres of pasture land and covies all up and down the field turn rows and fence lines. Through Dr. Ersig, I met Mr. Harold Shaw in LaGrand, OR. , H owned the last champion Llewellin “CH. TONY O”. Mr Shaw and I developed a close relationship through corresponding by mail nobody responded even to ad by phone. Even these well-established professional men, Dr. Ersig, Mr. Harold Shaw, Dr. Barnard and others had a “round-robin” letter system that would circulate between them. When one received a letter, he added to it and forwarded it to another, and so on. It would eventually get back to Mr. Shaw. Mr. Shaw sent me these to read. One of the happiest moments in my life was when I got the round robin letter in which Mr. Shaw wrote, “APPRENTLY YOU ARE ONE OF THE ANOITED”. He had added me to the list! I was just over 20 years old at the time. (I wrote an article in the last issue of the Llewellin Journal about these letters, of which the next issue would have been out already but circumstances have caused us to delay it for a while.) Through the following years, before these old Llewellin owners passed away, they let me have some of the dogs, with a promise I would keep their lines going. I have done this for the past 37 years. By having all of these Llewellin strains, I have been able to keep breeding the Llewellins with out having to breed them too closely related. You may have noticed in my pedigrees, I do add some Royacelle to the Blizzard lines or some of the Bomber with the TonyO lines, to keep the lines from being to inbred. I have told you these things to let you know, I would the last person in the world to jeopardize the Llewellin Strain of wonderful footing birddogs, that these old guys passed on to me. In the summer of 1967 our home burned to the ground. I was 10 miles away on the furthest of the fields. Drenda got the boys to the car and called for help. Only her sewing machine that her Grannie had given her for a wedding present and her sewing materials chest were saved. We walked away as a young family of 4 with a sewing machine and our Llewellins. We had the huge sum of $2,000.00 in fire insurance that set us up with the basics in furniture. It couldn’t replace the fine antique furniture pieces that Drenda had scavenged from the farm barns and outbuildings or the wonderful pieces that were her mothers. But we started over again. Later that fall I decided to go to Kansas to work with my brother-in-law as a boilermaker. It didn’t take long to pack the few clothes we had. As a last minute thought Mom went to town and bought the boys a coat and 2 sets of long pants, which turned out to be a godsend. The first huge paycheck bought me winter work clothes and Drenda a coat. Just in case you are wondering about the dogs ……… they went with us. I rigged up a old house trailer frame with dog coups welded in place. That is the way pups were raised during those days. The off the ground coups were the only way one could raise a litter of pups. I look back now and can just imagine the sight that must have been. Can you imagine a black ’69 Impala cruising down the highway pulling this contraption! It worked and it worked well. I lasted in this job long enough to buy Christmas and we and the dogs headed back for Arkansas. Through the next few years we acquired more lines of dogs from assorted places. Drenda and I went to Texarkana, TX and bought a pair of Bomber’s. Pistol & Judy had lived together from day one and could not be separated. Dad DID think I had truly gone mad when I arranged to buy Dashing Jesshue Bondhu and Dashing Swon Bondhu, both direct imports from Chris Sorensen’s kennel in England. I even insured them with Lloyds of London until I could manage to pay them off with my crop. I located Dashing Count Bondhu and Dashing Kay Bondhu in Texas, also an import from Chris. Dad recovered and in fact is still alive today. By then 3 other brothers had come back to farm. Being the youngest of the group I decided to leave farming. In 1969 life took us in an entirely direction but …… ALONG WENT THE DOGS! We bought a small house with a few acres and I raised enough dogs to keep the lines backed up & in order to not loose too much money on them. You see we have now gotten to the mid 70’s. The field trial dog was in vogue. The advertising blitz was that if your dog wasn’t from field trial stock, you did not have a bird-dog. In 1975 I was in the hospital. When I was 2 years old I drank lye water. In fact I lived in the Arkansas Children’s Hospital for 2 years. My esophagus had only one restricted area of scar tissue. This was the first time I had ever had anything hang up and not be able to pass through the area, which had lasted over a day. Absolutely nothing would pass the blockage. To make a long story short, the Doctor had to go in with a scope to check it out. When he said, “Oh, _ _ _ _!” I knew it was not going well. Within the hour I remembered no more, other than pain. Two days later they told Drenda that I would live but I don’t remember the next several weeks, but woke up still in ICU. I drank my food after several months and they were able to remove the feeding tube and send me home. My disability insurance would not pay, terming the problem stemming from a pre-existing condition. I went back to work for a while, but did not have the strength to keep me going for many more years. I had been on a salary & commission job, allowing me to work and maintain the dogs. The next year, still on only liquid food, I went to Memphis and that doctor replaced my esophagus with a portion of my colon. Although a fairly common procedure now; mine was only the third done in the US. Three days later, again, they told Drenda I would live. If this surgery was to be successful, it had to be done while I was still young enough and strong enough to get through this ‘experimental’ surgery. During all this time we maintained the dogs ‘by making’ dog food. Eventually we lost the house, having only Drenda’s income from the courthouse. The dogs ‘moved’ to my in-laws along with my youngest son for the summer. We stayed with my Mother because of Drenda’s job and O’Neal’s Babe Ruth baseball season. I went back to work, this time in Little Rock. Again, in 1979 we started over. Before school started that fall we moved to Vilonia, east of Conway …… WITH THE DOGS! We leased a farm with “First Option to Buy”. It was an easy drive to my job and as we started over again we returned to the county where we started college. After about one year the economy ended my job. We started over. We started our own business. Then the Trust in which we had the farm leased was eliminated. Again we started over, moved and built the second kennel grounds in two years. I could still work the dogs on a neighboring 200 acres. The 80’s saw the return of the foot hunting bird-dog. Many of you know me by this point in our lives. The boys started college with the help of their scholarships and jobs. Our family lost boys and we gained two girls, a niece and a great-niece. We also gained and lost Drenda’s Mother and her Father, who not being able to stay here without ‘Mom’ went to live with his other daughter. Before long we gained my Mother. We were able to have her with us for 10 years. In fact we moved her to the farm with us for about a year. In 1985 Drenda started a second business and I soon turned the market over to my youngest son and joined the ‘girls’ in the Antique Mall, the second in Arkansas, in the tourist village that bordered our land. This was really p-e-r-f-e-c-t. I could both; buy for the shop and work dogs. All the while expanding the runs, acquiring more dogs and training, practically full time. In the fall of 1987 we bought the 8,000 square foot building from the village that bordered us. Drenda leased 54 spaces to mall dealers and we had the finest Antique Mall in Arkansas. We gained two daughters by in-law. We have gained five grandsons. In 1997 we bought the farm we are now on and after two years we finally got enough living space built to be able to move here and begin the rebuilding of kennel space. After two different lessees of the store property we had to take it back over, reestablish the business and were blessed with a buyer for both the store and the house and kennel property at Pickles Gap. We are where we want to be in life. God has been good to us. Each of our life experiences has brought us to where we are now. I would not change anything at this point if I could. IF we have to start over again; SO BE IT. Respectfully, Alfred O. King, Sr. NOTE: In mid 2015 I found this in lost computer files. He began with Llewellins in 1965 ~ 50 years ago. He dated this in 2000 ~ 35 years after he began with Llewellins. It has now been 15 years since he wrote it ~ It seems destined that I now share it with the Llewellin Community he loved.