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Hendrix Harper~My First Fifty Years in Dogs

Discussion in 'AST History' started by jeoestreich, Oct 6, 2008.

  1. jeoestreich

    jeoestreich GRCH Dog

    Tiger, the first Am Staff Hendrix
    bought from Peggy Harper
    Harper's Gold Nuggett​
    Questions provided by Richard Gray and Sara Nugent
    Interview notes prepared by Frances Gray
    On Wednesday, June 2, 2004, Richard Gray,
    Frances Gray, and Sara Nugent met with Hendrix
    Harper to go over his 50 year “dog” career. We met
    at Hendrix’s house in Bryan, Texas. It was a typical,
    hot late spring day, with some clouds that suggested
    rain, but did not deliver. We met so that we could
    talk about what the driving factors were that kept
    Hendrix involved in the dog business for 50 years.
    What was the fascination that kept him interested
    and active and loving it still after all these years?
    We asked the typical questions, and some that were
    not so typical. The answers to our questions are
    pretty much in Hendrix’s words. I will have some
    other comments on Hendrix, the man, at the end of
    this piece.​
    What attracted you to the breed?​
    I did not know anything
    about the breed when I
    got my first dog. The
    first dog I got was a pit
    bull. My brother-in-law
    took me with him to
    Houston to look at dogs.
    I paid $35 for Harper’s
    Gold Nugget. I began
    reading and learned that
    Stafs were AKC
    registered. Anita used Nuggett as a baby sitter.
    Nuggett would go berry hunting with our oldest son
    and could pick the berries and eat them faster than
    Johnny could get his hands on them. She only took
    the ripe berries, but if Johnny wanted to go berry
    hunting, he had to take her, to protect him from
    snakes. I saw the ads for Stafs in Dog World and
    wrote Ormsby, Ed Ringold, and went to see Peggy,
    since she was close by. I was off work one day in
    March of 1957 and knew that there was a dog show
    in Austin, so I packed my family in the car and off we
    went. We got there only to learn that Stafs had
    shown at 8:00 a.m. However, we were told that
    there would be a show in San Antonio the next day,
    and that Stafs would be shown there, so the next
    day we went to San Antonio. Peggy was showing
    and we introduced ourselves to her. She was
    showing Dauntless Pepper Pie for Don Humes (He
    was in Kansas). Peggy invited us to her house.
    She fed us lunch and showed us her kennels. She
    had Stafs, Scotties,
    Min Pins, and
    boarding dogs.
    Peggy showed us
    this 18 month old
    black brindle male
    out of Sika and
    Blueguard. I
    thought that
    Blueguard was a
    good dog, a four
    square dog. Very
    impressive. She
    wanted $75 for
    Tiger. I gave her
    $25, and promised
    to pay the rest.
    Peggy had only met
    me that day, but
    with the $25 down
    payment, she let
    me load the dog
    and take him home. I wanted to show, so, Peggy
    and I talked, and when she was going to a show, I
    would enter Tiger and go. I did not win any of the
    shows that Peggy was showing in, but I went to
    Houston on my own. I had the only Staf entered,
    and he took Best of Breed. I was real proud as I
    took my dog into the group. Didn’t win anything, but
    I finally had a Best of Breed ribbon. I learned a lot
    about Stafs and showing during this time period. I
    also realized that if I had been beating Peggy in the
    ring, she might not have been as friendly to me.
    John Henry Clark had gotten a great bitch from
    Peggy. He showed this bitch as a puppy at one of
    the shows that I was at. The judge told Peggy that
    John Henry’s bitch would have won if the bitch had
    had her ears trimmed. After that, John Henry got
    the ears trimmed and his bitch won the National
    Specialty. Peggy also seemed happy for me to win
    some at this point. My dog Tiger never got any
    points, but I had fun showing him. He lived to be
    about 7 or 8 years old. He was bred several times.
    I sold one of these pups to a woman in Hawaii,
    Rosalie Yano. He was a surfer dog named
    Cannonball. Rosalie came back and bought another
    dog from me after Cannonball died.​
    Hendrix showing in 1974 - Dog is
    Devilish Delilah of TerLyn (bred by
    Dick Pascoe) - Show is Baytown
    Kennel Club (match). Judge is Gary
    Doerge (prior to him becoming a
    licensed judge)​
    When and how did you get
    started in Am Stafs?​
    I joined the STCA in 1958 at the
    National Specialty which was held
    in Delaware, Ohio. Charlie Doyle
    was the Secretary/Treasurer at
    this time, and I was able to spend
    a lot of time with him at this event
    and thoroughly enjoyed that time.
    He passed away within months of
    this show. Pete Sparks was
    another old timer that was there.
    At this show, Doyle had Tacoma
    All A Blaze. One of Rayburn’s
    brothers-in-law took the dog back
    to either Georgia or North
    Carolina. There were 22 to 23
    dogs entered in this show. I only
    had one AKC dog at this time,
    Tiger. Anita and I traveled to this show with Peggy
    Harper. Traveling with Peggy was kind of touchy. I
    was 30 at the time. Peggy was driving a Chrysler
    station wagon, and there were 6 dogs and 3 people
    on the trip. The show was an all breed show at a
    site north of Cleveland. Anita and I went to a pizza
    place and had pizza for the first time. We were
    amazed that the kids in the café would not talk to us.
    We thought that college kids would have been
    friendlier, like they were in Texas. I wore a Stetson
    cowboy hat to the show and the other exhibitors got
    a kick out of seeing me in my hat. The hat certainly
    identified me as being from Texas. The bitch points
    at this show were won by a bitch out of Ringold’s
    stock. It was owned by a lady in Georgia. A Jones’
    bitch really impressed me. It was at this show that I
    formed my opinion that judges didn’t always look at
    dogs the way that I did. Tacoma All A Blaze was
    one of the best dogs I ever saw. One of Peggy’s
    bitches was in season at the show, and we tried to
    get her bred to Tacoma All A Blaze while we were
    there. We got them bred, but the breeding did not
    take. In my opinion Pete Sparks was the most
    knowledgeable person at the meeting, but because
    of his background, no one would listen to him. Kind
    of like now, those in the breed now don’t always
    listen to those that have had experience in the
    breed. On the way up, we stayed at Little Rock and
    then someplace in Tennessee or Kentucky. There
    were plenty of places in the South that had great
    food, served family style.​
    Who are the dog classics, some of the best you
    saw the first years you were in the breed?​
    The Gallant dogs (Knight Bomber and Knight
    Crusader), Tacoma All A Blaze, Sky King. They all
    would have been able to win
    today; just at they did in their
    Who were some of the most
    interesting people that you
    have met in Stafs?​
    The old crowd would include:
    Charlie Doyle – knowledge of
    the breed and of people in the
    Peggy Harper – knowledge of
    the breed, and she was real
    good to me.
    Don Humes – knowledge of
    the breed. I was very
    disappointed when he left AKC
    and went to ADBA registered
    Pete Sparks – understanding of the dogs and
    knowledge of the origins.
    Will Brandon – did a lot for the breed and was very
    interesting to talk to.
    Currently, I find many people interesting, as long as
    they have the interest of the breed at heart.​
    Why did you decide to show?​
    As a teenager I showed Duroc hogs and Jersey
    cattle. In 1946 at the Harris County Fair I had the
    Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion
    Duroc boars and, the Grand Champion sow. Two
    Jersey heifers that I showed placed in their classes.
    That is where I developed my love for showing
    animals. If UKC had had shows at this time, I
    probably would have shown UKC and had UKC
    dogs, but they did not. So, I got into AKC animals
    so I could show my dogs. I encourage everyone to
    show. If they say they can’t do it, I say “no one was
    born knowing how to show. You just have to do it.
    Everyone has a first time in the ring.”​
    One of Hendrix’s truisms is “Show what you’ve got
    and if it is not good enough, get better the next

    Last edited: Oct 6, 2008
  2. jeoestreich

    jeoestreich GRCH Dog

    What were some of the early influences on you
    about the breed?​
    High Ace of HarWyn was one of Peggy’s dogs that I
    really liked. This was the best dog I had seen at the
    time. He was great with kids and just wanted to be
    with people. Now, he might not seem so great. He
    was a small, chunky, broad across the chest, and
    had personality plus. He probably weighed about
    55-60 pounds. I still feel that the spark of
    personality makes a dog. Physical characteristics
    may change due to “fashionâ€, but a dog has to have​
    Black Girl (sire: Ruffian Tiger of
    Har-wyn x dam: Ruffian
    Hendrix's son Mike with
    puppies from their first
    that “spark†to make them special. I also feel that
    even if a dog is a good show dog, if the dog can’t
    work, it looses value.​
    Sarah commented that she also saw Ace at Peggy’s
    house in 1970 or 1971 when he was 12 or 13 years
    old. He was just an elderly fat house dog by then,
    but obviously favored, since he was the only inhouse
    dog there .​
    Did you have a mentor when you came into the
    Peggy Harper taught me everything I know. She
    was good to me. I would help her give shots to her
    dogs and otherwise help her with things she needed
    with the dogs.​
    What are some of the things you remember
    about the early shows?​
    I remember how the two Crusader dogs were shown
    in Texas, Knight Crusader and Knight Bomber. At
    that point in time, Texas had shows in March and
    October. I recall well when these two were on the
    circuit. It wasn’t until after the show circuit was
    finished that I figured out that these two dogs were
    not Am Stafs, but pit bulls. (At that time UKC dogs
    could be shown in AKC conformation shows just like
    UKC dogs can be shown in AKC obedience shows
    currently.) They were balanced and could really
    move. They were not chunky dogs. They were
    each about 60-65 pounds.​
    What was one of your most memorable
    I was at the group ringside with Peggy Harper and
    she was supposed to take Sky King in. Peggy got
    nervous and told me to take him in the ring. This
    was at a Houston show. So we went in the ring.
    The judge came to the time when he had made his
    decisions. He pointed to his first place dog, and
    then he pointed to me with Sky King. I looked
    around to see who the judge was pointing at. At that
    time Stafs did not usually place in groups. The
    judge finally said – You! second place.​
    How did you go
    from one dog to a
    whole kennel?​
    The basic thing was
    that I was just trying
    to get a good dog. I
    realized from what
    others were doing
    that you had to put
    some puppies on
    the ground to find a
    good dog. About a year or year and a half after I
    had gotten my first dog from Peggy, I was at
    Peggy’s, and there was a litter of puppies on the
    ground. All of them had kennel cough. She offered
    me a little black bitch, Tonka. I bred her to Tiger
    and got a litter of 10. I took them to the vet when
    they were 8 weeks old and had all of their ears
    trimmed for $20 a pup. When they were 12-13
    weeks old, they started going undershot. 7 out of
    the 10 went undershot. My pit bull Nuggett was
    undershot, and had undershot puppies, but show
    dogs were not
    supposed to do that
    - have undershot
    puppies. I did not
    know what to make
    of it. I kept one of
    the females that
    was not undershot,
    Tonkawa Black Girl,
    and she was my
    first champion. I
    was not able to get
    a breeding out of
    her and when she
    was 5, I found her
    dead in her crate. I
    took her to a vet to
    see if he could tell
    why she died, and
    the vet told me that
    there was liver
    involvement. Now
    what did that
    When did Tonkawa Kennels and your breeding
    program start?​
    Probably the one that started me on this breeding
    program was Smokey. I got him from Peggy the last
    week that she was in San Antonio. I preferred male
    dogs. They seemed to stand up to my personality
    better than the girl dogs do. Chief Red Cloud was a
    Concho dog that I got from Bill Harber, who got his
    dogs from O.L.Hill, whose dogs came from Peggy.
    Chief Red Cloud was bred a lot and produced a lot
    of good puppies.​
    What were some of the best dogs that you
    In 1985, my bitch Mary Lou won winners bitch at the
    National Specialty. She was out of Maggie Mae and
    El Tigre Jose. She was one of the best I have had,
    but she did not produce puppies of her quality. The
    best male, conformation wise, which I had, was
    Bubba Yellow Hawk. My favorite though, was​
    Ch. Tonkawa Chief Joseph
    - OFA #12 of the breed -
    first dog Hendrix
    This is Ruffian Smoky of Tonkawa, CD
    The last dog he got from Peggy Harper and one of his
    early obedience dogs. This was in the early 1970's.​
    Chicken George. He was a good dog for me. I
    could keep him out of trouble. He was very obedient
    to me. No one else could control him.​
    Who were some of your favorite dogs and why?​
    Chicken George was one of my favorites because of
    his temperament.
    Chief Yellow Hawk was a favorite because of his
    Maggie Mae was a favorite because of her breeding
    capabilities and the puppies she produced.
    Grey Fox was one of the most memorable. I still
    have people calling me about him.​
    What changes have you seen in your own line?​
    I don’t know. I don’t think that the two dogs that I
    currently have are as good as some of my previous
    show dogs, but they have great temperaments.​
    Who has influenced you and your breeding
    Roy Fanguy – a geneticist from Texas A & M and
    Mick Robinson a local vet who taught me a lot about
    medical issues in the breed. Fanguy’s genetic
    studies were real interesting to me.​
    You have had an impact with the breed by being
    one of the first to OFA your dogs. Why did you
    start this practice?​
    I had some dogs that
    had problems and it is
    a pet peeve of mine
    that some folks want
    to just bury their heads
    in the sand and
    pretend it does not
    exist. If someone
    wants to breed a bitch
    to one of my studs, I
    want to know the
    status of the bitch’s
    hips. If they have
    been x-rayed, even if
    they do not pass, at
    least that shows that
    the owner is interested
    and aware of the issue. I would be more apt to
    breed to that bitch than to one that has not been xrayed
    for lack of interest.​
    Hendrix has helped improve the hip dysphasia
    situation in our breed by the number of his OFA’d
    dogs that appear in other breeders pedigrees.​
    When did you get started in obedience?​
    39 years ago I got started in obedience when I lived
    in Alvin. Then when we moved back to Bryan, I
    continued to take Black Girl to Houston once a week
    for obedience classes. She won the competition at
    the end of the class, but there were not many other
    competitors that showed that night. It was sleeting
    and the South Texas folks and dogs were not used
    to that cold weather. Smokey was the first dog that I
    trained that got an obedience title, and I got titles on
    several more over the years, probably 10-12. I
    helped to organize an obedience club in Bryan in
    Which of your dogs did the best job for you in
    the obedience ring?​
    Chicken George was the dog that I enjoyed showing
    the most in obedience. Julio got a score of 172 and
    improved to a 196. He also busted numerous times.​
    Were you in on the beginning of the Texas Am
    Staff club?​
    Dick Pascoe, Wilson Ellison, Ralph Davis were
    some of the charter members with myself. I served
    at most offices in the Texas club. I served the
    National Club as a Board member in the late 70’s
    and in 1978. When Richard was also elected to the​
    Hendrix showing Ch. Tonkawa Estrellita
    (finishing photo)
    sire: Ch. Tonkawa Chief Joseph
    dam: Ch. Rounder's Diamond Lil​
    National Board, Ed Ringold said, “this isn’t the
    Texas Club.†I also served on the National Board in
    the early 80’s.​
    What dog clubs have you been a member of?​
    STCA, Brazos Valley Kennel Club, Staffordshire
    Terrier Club of Texas, American Staffordshire
    Terrier Club of San Antonio. Staff folks should get
    involved with all breed dog clubs. It is important to
    be a part of an all breed club.​
    How has the Texas crowd
    been able to co-exist so
    well for so long?​
    Our Texas club is loose
    enough so that we aren’t
    always getting in each others
    way. We have done a lot of
    cross breeding with our lines.
    We respect the knowledge
    that each of us has. We
    respect each others
    opinions. We can agree to
    How have you managed to
    keep good relations with
    breeders across the
    Because I don’t gossip. I
    don’t say bad things about
    other people or their dogs.​
    Hendrix’s daughter, Luanna,
    related that he had always
    told his children not to
    participate in gossip or
    saying ugly things about others.​
    What did you think about the name change
    (Staffordshire Terrier to American Staffordshire
    At the time, I thought it was just fine. However, now
    I think we might have gotten a lot of good out of
    merging the two breeds and all being Staffordhsire
    Terriers. (originally AKC’s plan) One of the things
    we would have gotten is smaller dogs and better
    natural ears.​
    What is your position on the current standard?​
    I do not favor changing the standard. If the standard
    were changed it would be to reflect the views of
    those making the changes. Then each time a
    different dog type came into style, someone would
    want to change the standard again. We sure don’t
    want them to all look alike like some breeds do.​
    What do you think judges in general look for in
    the conformation ring?​
    Basically how the dog gets around the ring and how
    the handler floats. Dudley McMillan liked bull-doggy
    dogs like I do. The new STCA judges’ education
    program needs to be presented earlier in a judge’s
    career. I also think that a judge should have to live
    with a breed before judging it.​
    Name some of the judges
    that you liked to see judge.​
    Dudley McMillan, Florice
    Hogan, J. W. Cummings. I
    like these judges not
    because I have always won
    under them, but have
    enjoyed talking with them as
    people. I don’t “chaseâ€
    judges. I have shown to
    judges who people said
    would not like my dogs, and
    we have won anyway. .​
    What can we do about the
    scrutiny that our dogs are
    getting now?​
    Owners of pit bulls are the
    cause for much of the
    scrutiny that we are now
    getting. They are not
    watching their dogs and the
    dogs are getting into trouble.
    I believe, “If you can’t keep
    your dog in, you shouldn’t
    have it.â€​
    Do you think the breed will last another 40
    Yes, and for many years after that, past our
    What can we do to help the breed?​
    Get the dogs out in public and show their good
    sides. Make sure our dogs are socialized and
    trained and let the public see them at their best.
    Breeders need to pay more attention to
    temperament when breeding. Temperaments are
    better now than they used to be. Early dogs were
    more dog aggressive. Training dogs to be good
    citizens will help as much as anything.​
    What is the main thing that you look for in a
    Winning in the show ring is not the main thing. I
    look for a dog that can get along with other animals​
    Brazos Valley kennel club (Hendrix's local all-breed club) honoring him and Anita at their show in
    March 2004 for 50 years in pure-bred dogs.​
    and, of course, with people. The dogs need to be
    under control. They are a terrier, and terriers can be
    terrors. They need to be controlled.​
    Would you do it over again?​
    Would you change anything?​
    No, I would probably do it the same way.​
    What advise would you give someone wanting to
    get into Am Stafs?​
    Being in the breed now is an uphill battle because of
    the breeds’ reputation. To get into the breed, you
    have to be aware of this issue. To stay in the breed
    you have to be very determined.​
    Is there another breed that you might have
    Can’t think of any other breed that I could love as
    much as this one. I am disgruntled with the people
    problems that are reflected on the breed. Breeders
    need to take care of dogs that are trouble makers.​
    Any other comments for the “pressâ€?​
    It has been fun. I have had a great time. I have
    owned, seen, and known a lot of wonderful dogs
    and I have made a lot of great friends. It has been
    Authors Note:​
    I have known Hendrix for almost 36 years. He is a
    true gentleman and a staunch defender of the
    American Staffordshire Terrier. He is also a man
    that has very strong convictions about faith and
    family loyalty. His priorities in life are his faith,
    family, and the dogs.
    His faith means a great deal to him. The last 20 or
    so years that I have known him, he has determined
    that he would not miss going to church on Sunday.
    If he was at a dog show, he found a church. The
    last 10 years or so, he makes sure he is at his home
    church on Sunday. He doesn’t pressure others to
    accept his religious beliefs, but he maintains
    obedience to his faith.
    His family is also very important to him. Anita has
    been his wife of 54 years. They have 4 living
    children – Kathy, Johnny, Mike, and Luanna. They
    lost a daughter, Denise at age 7 to Cerebral Palsy.​
    They have 6 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild.

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