The article of Marzio Panattoni gets a deeper knowledge of Llewellins history and tells with personal events when he started to breed them with the 'del Pianone' kennel name
She was fluttering between the tables of the restaurant of Offenbach, in a bright turquoise suit, scattering smiles and greetings all over the room. It was Remo Tempestini who introduced me to Marie Thérèse a Goes.
I invited her to sit down with us and she, knowing that I was interested, immediately started to tell me about her dogs:….”The famous setter Llewellin” as she called them. She told me that just in that year fell the 150th anniversary of the pureness of the race, because since Laverack and Llewellin until that day, the dogs had been always bred in the circle of the same family, without any introduction of extraneous blood. This immediately fascinated me, but playing the expert (you can read stupid) I asked her if now it would be better to go outside the circle and refresh the blood. For a moment her eyes fixed me in silence, the lips assumed a pitiful smile of a person who understands that you did not understand and standing up I remember she said: “Monsieur, vous aimez les cocktails, moi j’aime l’Armagnac” (Mister, you like cocktails, I like Armagnac) She turned round and went fluttering again from one table to another, scattering smiles and greetings all over the room.
In those days the Europe Cup was in Offenbach, and between one turn and another I had the occasion to see her again, and I tried to resume the discussion but she snubbed me, certainly I had disappointed her.
This all started the year before at Mezzano, when in a turn in brace with my dog 'Astro', I saw a setter with a strange and long name: “Romulus Wind’Em D’Urlain Pré”. Owner L. Baso, breeder M.T. a Goes. I read this on the list of participants of the ‘Open Setter’ of Ostellato.
The dog by itself did not seem to me to be a magnificent trialer, but certainly he was of an absolute elegance, he moved with an unusual morbidity for those years and pointed in a plastic pose making a perfect arch from the point of the nose to tail. Immediately I became curious and started to seek information. Some things Tempestini told me, but most information I found in the old Reviews.
A couple of years after the cup in Offenbach, returning from the field trials in Scotland, I stopped in Belgium in the hope of again meeting the breeder of the setter that I liked a lot. I found her in her house at Longueville and to my great surprise she immediately recognized me.
She remembered perfectly what I had said that day in Germany and she received me more with curiosity than with suspect. But this time we understood each other soon and between us started a dog-lover idyll. I spent entire days in that house in Brabant, between dogs and falcons, talking about genealogies, about Humphrey, Llewellin, about moors, grouses and hawks.
Yes, Marie Thérèse a Goes loved the falconry like me, but still more like Humphrey. In fact it had been falconry to let her know Monsieur Anfré as she called him and the dogs as consequence with much superciliousness.
She had passed long periods at Longmind Moor, hunting, training and preparing the dogs and the falcons, but above all, as she specified, learning from the great Teacher. Sure, Marie Thérèse a Goes was a walking encyclopaedia of knowledge of dogs and listening to her was like hearing a breeder of past times. It seemed she spoke with the tongue of Humphrey telling the history of these fascinating setters.
The very glorious Family started when Llewellin at the trials of Shrewsbury of 1871 bought from Thos Statter, the winners of the ‘couple trial’ Dan and Dick, offspring of a lucky mating with one of Statter’s females Rhoebe ¾blood of Southesk and ¼ Gordon, winner in exposition and of Duke, a dog of Barcklay Field, winner of field trials.
With regard to this Duke there is a curious detail. Duke was the son of Duck of Sir F. Graham of Netherby and of Slut a female of Sir Vincent Corbet of Acton Rainold. It is interesting to note that the villages Netherby and Acton Rainold were very near to Carlisle, the place from where derived the first dogs of Laverack, Old Moll and Ponto. It is thus right to suppose, times taken in consideration, that Duke and the Laverack dogs had the same origin.
In those times, as a matter of fact, dogs were recognized more for the family of belonging as for single genealogy. In this way, for example the dogs of Lord Ossulton, were the race of Lord Ossulton and stop, independently of the matching. The same for the dogs of Southesk or of Lord Lovat or for the dogs of the Duke of Gordon and so on.
It is not good to forget the fact that it is due to Edward Laverack that we have the habit of the written codification of the pedigree, such as we know and practise still today, in order to remember the real kinship of a dog.
In order to understand the situation better, it is necessary to think that in those times, except for Laverack and later for Llewellin, the transmission of the genealogies happened for the greatest part in an oral way and of particularly famous dogs it is possible to find an outline of pedigree, which generally is limited to the second and sometimes to third generation, but often not complete or little understandable. Often the same dog is signalized with different names.
One time with the kennel name of the breeder, another time with a genealogy partially different, another time again with only the kennel name of the owner and so on, for the habit to hand down the genealogies only mnemonically.
Llewellin himself, for example, reports some of his pedigrees as pure Laverack the dogs of Capt. Ramsey, the Islay, only because the father of the Captain just hunted for years with Laverack in the Islay isle and at this time he received some subjects from him.
Llewellin mating Dan and Dick, but I should say almost only Dan, with his Laverack dams and later their sister Dora with Laverack studs, originated the strain which will take the name from him, producing at once an impressive series of very strong dogs, many of which were exported at fabulous prices to America.
The surprising results of this match were so exceptional that Llewellin bought all the available Laverack dams to enlarge the strain.
Statter and Amstrong, and other breeders, did the same by copying the mating method with the sons of Duke and Rhoebe (at the end it’s possible to count 19 out of the several litters) with Laveracks they contributed to produce the new type of field trial dog of excellent practical and aesthetical dotes for whom the Americans even founded a separated registration that goes on up to now: “Llewellin Setter”
This large availability of progeny from the original mate Duke-Rhoebe X Laverack allowed that type of inbreeding of which first Llewellin, the Americans, Humprey and those who came later, made the flag of this family setter.
The breeders, the great breeders know what facility gives the possibility to work on a large number of subjects even if of the same strain. So the initial inbreeding becomes, after a few generations, line-breeding, allowing to fix different strains, and if wanted, clearly separated ones too. In this way, just to stay in the ambit of the group, breeders of the calibre of Harley and Turner, never participated in the field trials, selected one strain, let’s say a shooting dog strain, that often served to refresh the blood of the field trial dogs of Llewellin and later of Humphrey.
Llewellin besides, playing on the percentage of Laverack blood divided his dogs into Dashing, Bondhu, Wind’em and Count.
Humphrey in Horsford, Dashing-Bondhu and Wind’em.
But history of this breed was made, as I said, mostly by the Americans. In fact it was there, more than anywhere that needed fast dogs wider ranging to follow them on horseback in those fields without end, and from the first importations of the very strong dogs like Count Noble, Gladstone, Druid, Leicester etc., was fixed that type of setter which initially was just called “Field Trial Setter”, but later definitively Llewellin Setter from the name of the original kennels.
In UK breeders went on to produce subjects of great quality, I should say just for the rich American market, but exportation of the best ones at the end brought soon to the impoverishment of the breed in the Country and it was necessary to import again. Llewellin in primis, but many other setter breeders bought American dogs out of the offspring from the primitive mate Duke-Rhoebe x Laveracks to give fresh blood to their kennels and to contribute in a determinant way to the formation of the modern setter.
Of course Americans wanted dogs which pointed with the tail up (twelve o’clock), like a flag which appeared from the high vegetation of the prairie, but these dogs brought extraordinary hunting qualities that distorted the European breeding. Westdown Turvie was more than ¾ Llewellin with a lot of American blood and Lingfield Mistic more than 60%, just to talk about two unknowns.
At the death of Llewellin, William Humphrey who was his favourite disciple, from the United States where he was at that moment for the trials, bought all the kennels of his Master and in following epochs he added also the dogs of Harley and later those of Turner, reuniting in this way under his kennel names all the pure subjects of Great Britain and maybe of Europe.
The years following the last world conflict showed from the part of Humphrey extraordinary production of dogs with excellent qualities and a lot of them created the bearing structure and the fame of new emerging kennels.
Several pure Llewellins arrived also in Italy, many of which with different kennel names: especially Waygood and Sharnberry which contributed to the improvement of our more important kennels: Ticinensis, Crismani and Del Volo, some of the more known.
But returning to the story and to the modern Llewellin: William Humphrey died in 1963, the same day in which Kennedy was killed, leaving some of his dogs to Father Bannon, an Irish Catholic priest, some to Mister Wostenholm of Johannesburg in South Africa, and some to Marie Thérèse a Goes in Belgium.
And here in Belgium, after a true and real two day interrogation, I finally got my first pure Llewellin female puppy: Scarlet Wind’Em d’Urlain Pré.
Immediately Scarlet unchained all my hunter/cynophile/ breeder fantasies. Already I dreamed of her scrambling between stones pointing a covey of rock partridges, or in a morbid action brushing the wheat of the “Cementifera”, or surrounded by a nest of puppies out of Rumulus.
But as known, things don't always go in the hoped direction. The little female who made me dream……revealed to be ….modest. Mister Baso, who was not a gentleman, repeatedly denied the stud of Romulus and my wish to continue the work of Humphrey was relegated to just a dream.
But a litter I wanted to make and Remo Tempestini signalized a good Llewellin in his kennel in Toscana. Of the few puppies that were born almost all had a dramatic end. Sonnet remained the only survivor of a dog mirage.
But Sonnet, who did not appear to be a setter, except for her pedigree, amazed all of us when at about three years she became something very near to the ideal dog I had dreamt of.
In the mountains she flew with a stamina until then never seen in our setters and the not sublime nose quality met with an incomparable hunting astuteness, a very solid point, a memorable retrieval. There were no candidates for the wedding except in Belgium and for the moment things were set aside. But the day I discovered on the: “Libro di Selezione” that a person from Reggio Emilia had imported a dog from South Africa, a pure Llewellin: Rockford Josh Wind’Em. This was for me the news that lighted up again the passion. Dr. Morsiani, owner of Josh, put the dog at my disposal with great gentlemanliness and soon we became unavoidable friends.
From this stud were born five very strong mountain hunting dogs: my old very strong Count and the only extraordinary female Fly.
Marzio Panattoni Summer 2007
Now Count and Fly del Pianone are in the pedigrees of some important American Llewellins ….and history goes on…….
Translation in English by Jan Salini