Rafael C Harris was born in Beaumont, Texas around 1900. The family was in the furniture business and some of his earliest memories were of riding a wagon all along the Gulf Coast and up the Sabine River with his uncles and cousins delivering furniture. RC decided early on that he did not want to go into the family business. Dr. Harris graduated from the University of Colorado and specialized in pediatrics. He became interested in allergies. This was still in the era when a physician had to write a prescription with all the ingredients and directions. He married Beatrice and they moved to Santa Ana, California where he had a very successful career.
The Harris’s were ABC members and served on the Entry and Advertising and Show committees in the 1940’s & 1950’s. They were very active in the first Boxer Club formed in California and was one of the hosts for the match Frau Stockmann judged. They were long time members of the Boxer Club of Southern California, members of Mid-West Boxer Club (the Wagner’s home club – sometime with a larger membership and entry than ABC) and Santa Ana Valley Kennel Club.
Mrs. Harris (Bea) was an enormously creative and talented person. She has an artistic sense of design and decoration that many would envy. She very cleverly designed crosswords using the names of the dogs in the pedigree and then embroidered them as wall hangings. Like Frau Stockmann, she could transfer her art to a living form. When Dr. Harris retired they moved to Mexico. Their house in Cuernavaca had a balcony overlooking the valley where the hot air balloons had their annual event. She created a beautiful needlework picture of the balloons over the valley with just the edge of the balcony showing. The piece was exhibited during the 1980 in a juried, national show in the United States.
Dr. & Mrs. Harris acquired their first Boxer from Paul Ladin in California. He was named Marshall v Bismarck and finished in 1939. Soon after this they acquired CH Glamour Girl, a daughter of CH Hermes v Uracher Wasserfall se Sumbula (by Zorn von Dom x Sgn. Gretel v Hohenneuffen). She finished in 1940. They soon decided these Boxers lacked the type they wanted to breed. Like Jack & Mazie Wagner, they studied the dogs being shown and their pedigrees and began to look for breeding stock from the dogs and pedigrees they thought were the best.
They visited the Wagner’s to scout out breeding stock and fell in love with the Dorian daughter CH Nocturne of Mazelaine. Nocturne was an excellent bitch that had been sold to Mrs.G R Hall and finished in 1938. The next year Nocturne was campaigned but suffered an eye injury and was returned to Mazelaine where the Harris’s saw her. The loss of sight made her nervous and it was thought that the kennel would provide a quieter environment. She was bred to Lustig in 1939. This breeding produced CH Kavalier of Mazelaine CD and Kantatrix of Maxelaine. In 1941 she was bred to Utz and produced the “V” litter of 6 champions.
Nocturne was not for sale so the Harris’s did the next best thing – they bought her daughter and bred to her son and other descendants. Bang Away’s pedigree is back massed on Nocturne. Among the bitches bought were Kantatrix of Mazelaine, and Ouida of Mazelaine, a Dorian daughter out of Mazelaine Chloe (by Utz). Jack also sold them CH Endymion of Mazelaine (Dorian out of a Sigurd daughter). Jack considered him a compatible pedigree and producer to the bitches they had. Endymion was used by Jack when June Harrah did the Ideal Boxer to demonstrate correct shoulders & front. He finished his championship in 1942 and became a Sire of Merit in 1948.
While at Mazelaine, Endymion sired CH Schoolmaster of Mazelaine who was sold to the Larks. With the Harris’s he sired Canyonair Diamond Lil CD the mother of CHs Hickory Dick & Honey Chile. Diamond Lil was out of Ornadoon of Sirrah Crest, foundation bitch for Peggy Newhall Davis. Schoolmaster became the special friend of Eleanor Evans (Linderholm) when she was working at Mazelaine. He served as “Best Man” at her first wedding (Yiller was Bridesmaid).
Through Jack Wagner, they also found CH Duke Cronian and purchased him from Dr. Walter M Kearns. Dr. Kearns was the owner of CH Crona v Zwergeck. Crona was imported by the Wagner’s and sold to Dr. Kearns. She was a Lustig daughter and in three breedings to Dorian produced seven champions including Duke Cronian and the beautiful bitch’s CH Serenade & CH Symphony of Mazelaine (dam of Warlord).
The Harris’s concentrated study paid off. Ouida of Mazelaine was bred to Duke Cronian in 1941 and produced CH Oracle of Sirrah Crest and her sister Ouphe of Sirrah Crest. CH Oracle is the dam of Umbra of Sirrah Crest, CD & CH Udandie of Sirrah Crest, both by Whirlaway of Mazelaine, CD (by CH Kavalier of Mazelaine x a Dorian daughter – Nocturne). Udandie produced ACC Hi-Dandie of Sirrah Crest. Umbra of Sirrah Crest, CD is the dam of ICH Ursa Major of Sirrah Crest (by CH Yobang of Sirrah Crest). Ouida’s 1944 litter was to CH Kavalier of Mazelaine (the Nocturne – Lustig son) and produced CH Ovation of Sirrah Crest and Onyx & Ouinkle of Sirrah Crest.
Ouphe was bred to Utz and produced CH Man O’ War of Sirrah Crest & Maderia of Sirrah Crest. Maderia was bred back to her grandsire Duke Cronian and produced Yoneebee & CH Yobang of Sirrah Crest. Yobang is the sire of ICH Ursa Major of Sirrah Crest. Yoneebee of Sirrah Crest is the dam of CH Zing Zong of Sirrah Crest and Zizzle Zee of Sirrah Crest (by Vick Wick), the latter being sold to Joe Gregory & Burr Long.
CH Ovation was bred to CH Kobang of Sirrah Crest in 1944 and produced CH Questa of Sirrah Crest, the dam of CH Vick Wick of Sirrah Crest and Verily Verily of Sirrah Crest. Onyx was bred to Kobang and produced Madcap of Sirrah Crest.
Ouinkle was bred to CH Endymion of Mazelaine and produced Nightcap of Sirrah Crest, the dam of the “X” litter, Xebony, Xinxar & Xirius of SC. Xebony was the sire of Verily Verily and CH Vick Wick of Sirrah Crest out of CH Questa of Sirrah Crest (Kobang & Ovation). Ouinkle was bred to Kobang in 1946 and had CH Dark Delight of Sirrah Crest.
Vick Wick is the sire of Zizzle Zee of Sirrah Crest and the CHs Zing Zong & Strut Away of Sirrah Crest (out of Yoneebee, sister to Yobang). He sired the Ruda River trio which included the well know Ebony Belle and CH Gay Oak’s Glow & Hot Copy of Gay Oaks out of CH Princess Gay Golden (who also had lots of Lustig, Dorian & Utz in her pedigree).
Kantatrix, Kavalier’s sister, was not idle. She was bred to CH Duke Cronian in 1942 and had CH Kokokreme of SC and CH Kobang of SC. The breeding was repeated in 1944 and produced CH Krackerjack of SC. Kokokreme was bred to Utz in 1944 and produced CHs Riot & Rubicon of Sirrah Crest. Bred to her son, Riot, she produced CH Zelody of Sirrah Crest in 1946. Riot is the sire of CH Yoomph of Sirrah Crest – the ABC BOB winner in 1950.
CH Kobang of Sirrah Crest – the second champion under the Sirrah Crest name – was Dr. Harris’s favorite dog. He was born in 1942, when the Harris’s were just getting started good. They went to shows all over California and Dr. Harris handled Kobang himself. The Harris’s thought Kobang might be capable of being their first big winner so they contacted Sadie Edmiston, a professional handler from Omaha, Nebraska to handle him. Sadie looked him over and agreed to take him on. He got Group 2 at Santa Cruz KC, Group 1 in Denver & at Leavenworth Kennel Club and Best of Winners at Mid-West Boxer Club where he defeated Schoolmaster (Winners Dog at ABC) to bring him up to 13 points. He finished at the New Orleans KC with a BIS in 1944 just short of 2 years of age. Kobang was on a roll and they decided to take him to the most prestigious show of the year – Morris & Essex in June 1944. This was the era of Mazelaine with Warlord and company winning ABC, Westminster, etc. Kobang went BOB & Group 3 at Morris & Essex – the first West Coast Boxer to win a big show in the East (something they were about to have to get used to). The Easterners were out to get Kobang after that. Sadie received serious threats of physical violence against Kobang and insisted on sending him home for his own safety.
Kobang retired to the stud ranks where he was bred to Ouida of Mazelaine’s daughters & granddaughters (see above) and produced several champions, the most important being CH Questa of Sirrah Crest, the dam of Verily Verily & CH Vick Wick of Sirrah Crest (by CH Xebony – a Kobang grandson).
We have now arrived at the year 1949 – ten years of study, hard work, planning and astute selection of stock & breedings made – always using repeated lines to Nocture. Just before Christmas in 1948, Verily Verily was bred to their Yobang son, Ursa Major. On February 17, 1949 it all came together and a star was born!!! A flashy fawn puppy who owned the world from the time he opened his eyes – Bang Away – Attitude with a capital A!
Bang Away was first brought to the fancy’s notice at the Boxer Club of Southern California’s puppy match in June 1949. At the age of four months he went BOB under Frau Stockmann of von Dom fame. He didn’t yet have his name but HE knew who he was – and so did she! Frau Stockmann was in the US visiting the Wagner’s at Mazelaine and the three of them made the trip to California for Mrs. Stockmann to judge the match. She called him “Little Lustig” & predicted he would be special.
The next February (1950) the Harris’s took Bang Away with them to ABC for Nate Levine to look at and see if he was “good enough”. Nate was campaigning their BIS bitch CH Yoomph of Sirrah Crest and he agreed to show him in the 9-12 class at ABC. Bang Away went Best of Winners. They had Nate stay on Yoomph and she went BOB. Bang Away finished in July. He returned the next February to go BOB at ABC. By then his show career had taken off. The Harris’s did not show him at ABC again as they wanted others to have a chance to win there. Bang Away was after the all-breed BIS record. He was shown in California by Harry Sangster & Russell Zimmerman and in the East by Nate Levine. Mrs. Harris put a BIS on him at a show in Oregon.
Bang Away won the 1951 BOB at ABC over the Wagner’s Westminster winner CH Mazelaine’s Zazarac Brandy. Bang Away’s chief rival, Brandy had a two-year start on him in the BIS all-breed record department. Bang Away raced to catch up with him and did so at 60 BIS with a win at the Trenton Kennel Club in June 1952. The famous picture of Brandy handing Bang Away the crown is the result of this race.
Bang Away was BIS at the Garden (Westminister Kennel Club) in 1951 with Nate handling and won every major Eastern show – Bucks began to think they should just mail the BIS ribbon and trophy to Nate. Bang Away was shown on both coasts until 1956. His all-breed BIS record of 121 stood for several years.
Bang Away became famous. He flew coast-to-coast on Pan Am and it would be announced that he was on board, riding in the cabin. Sometimes his friend, Derek Rayne, was the pilot. He appeared on the cover of all the dog publications and had special write-ups in Life magazine.
CH Bang Away of Sirrah Crest was destined to become the all-time top sire with 81 American champions (out of 208 litters registered to different dams). He sired seven Sires & Dams of Merit to qualify for Legion of Merit and is in the pedigree of virtually every Boxer being shown today – usually several times. He literally changed the type of Boxer seen in the ring for all time and brought many new fans to the breed. Of his seven producers the most impact came through CH Barrage of Quality Hill LOM and his many producing descendants. Bang Away was only bred to three Sirrah Crest Bitches – two owned by others and CH Yoomph of Sirrah Crest who was sold in whelp to Bang Away. Through Bang Away, all of the Boxers of today are descended from their program.
In 1950, their goal achieved with Bang Away, the Harris’s held a dispersal sale of the 70 Boxers in their kennel. They kept only three young bitches, Yoomph and Bang Away, committing all their resources to furthering and managing his career until his death from bloat in 1957 – in spite of Dr. Harris and his colleagues at the hospital to save him.
Thanks to 4 generations of line breeding and a careful upbringing by Mrs. Harris to bring out his natural talent, Bang Away was the ultimate Boxer showman. He was always “ON”. Film of Bang Away at 6 years with Nate (when he retired), show a dog with tremendous charisma and animation – something not captured in still pictures. Some of this attitude can be seen in the film footage from the 1952 Parade of Champions with Warlord and Brandy. Nate was also with him at the famous “retirement dinner” sponsored by ABC in New York City in 1956. Mrs. Harris was the only person we know that has a potted plant in a huge silver Paul Revere Bowl that says Best in Show Westminster Kennel Club on it.
Their daughter, Penny, was in school and Mrs. Harris was naturally spending more time with her. Penny became interested in horses and developed into an excellent horsewoman. She showed in English Equitation and was California State Champion. Mrs. Harris & Penny often loaded the horses on the weekends and went to the horse shows together.
Dr. Harris’s practice had taken off and until his retirement in 1965 he was very busy with his work on allergies in children. After his retirement Dr. & Mrs. Harris moved to Cuernavaca, Mexico. They returned to the United Stated around 1980 and settled in Dallas. Dr. Harris, a victim of failing eyesight in his late 70’s, was asked to critique a litter of puppies he could not see. He picked the eventual BIS winner and ranked all 6 puppies, four of whom finished (his second pick was WB at ABC). Dr. Harris passed away in the early 1980’s and Mrs. Harris moved to the St Louis area to be near Penny.
Both Dr. & Mrs. Harris had been granted licenses to judge in the early 1940’s. Dr. Harris eventually judged the entire working group. He judged the ABC in 1949 and 1956. At the 1949 show Dr. Harris put up BOB CH Four Roses and BOS CH Mazelaine Gallantry. ABC 1956 went to CH Baroque of Quality Hill with her brother CH Barrage of Quality Hill LOM as BOS. Mrs. Harris (Bea) judged the Futurity in 1953 – GF/BP from 9 – 12 was Surroy’s Shooting Star and BJ from 12 – 18 was Va-Gore’s Anchor’s Aweigh. Mrs. Harris’ first ABC assignment in 1970 found BOB Salgray’s Double Talk from the classes and BOS CH Arriba’s Prima Donna. At the Regional in 1980 BOB was CH Ell Bee’s Just Watch Out with BOS CH Merrilane’s Closer Look.
In the early 1950’s Dr. Harris received a call from the shipyard freight office that they had a huge crate for him to pick up. He was very busy that day and they couldn’t tell him whom it was from so he didn’t go to pick it up. The next day he decided he’d better take off and go see what it was. When they opened the crate it was a woodcarving from Frau Stockmann. She had shipped it from Germany packed in wood shavings. The Agricultural inspector tried to confiscate it so they could burn it because it might have some kind of bugs in it. Dr. Harris narrowly averted this disaster and after the woodcarving being thoroughly fumigated (and the packing burnt) he took it home. He contacted Frau Stockmann to let her know he had received it. It was a thank-you gift for the excellent time she had had in California at the match – she wanted it to have a good home! The woodcarving is an awesome, life-size rendition of a Boxer bitch with her puppies. A photograph of it was used in the front of the ABC 50th Anniversary Album and it was displayed at ABC in 1985. It now resides with Tracy Hendrickson.
The Harris’s also had one of the bronze Ideal Boxers (only 5 were cast) sculpted by June Harrah Lord for John Wagner. Dr. Harris was visiting the Wagner’s at their ranch in Helotes, TX and John told 5him he had had a ceramic mold made of the Ideal Boxer Bronze. He had commissioned Rookwood to cast a limited edition of 50 and the bisques (unglazed fired clay) were in the kennel in the original barrels they had been delivered in. Apparently, John Wagner was not satisfied with them as several had “melted” in the firing (this happens when they are too wet to fire). He was planning to destroy them and told Dr. Harris he could have a couple if he could find good ones. Dr. Harris did and had them painted like Kobang and Yoomph. (Susan Finley had Kobang and Tracy Hendrickson the Bronze and Yoomph).
While the Harris’s were living in Dallas they donated many of their trophies, ribbons, photographs and kennel records to the Boxer Heritage Foundation. Recently Bang Away’s 1951 Group 1 Morris & Essex trophy was donated to ABC as a permanent exhibit. The BOB winner of Morris and Essex will have a name plate on the base (2015 won by GCH Brisbane & Blue Monday’s Diamonds are Decadent.)