Home of the Versatile Champion - VC Stonyridge Nika
I had been hunting for over twenty-five years and had grown up with dogs all my life. As a farm kid we had many dogs from different breeds and mixes. When I was thirteen I shot my first rooster over a point from our crossbred Wiemaramer and have been hooked on pheasants ever since. I still love the anticipation from a solid point, and the rush of the flush and cackle of a big "longtail." Later on, my brothers and I had a German Shorthair cross that was fun to hunt with, and by the early 80s I had a Springer that could "clear" a marsh in 10 minutes. By the 90s I started to do more duck hunting and had a lab/golden retriever mix. Missing the anticipation of the "point", we were starting to look at getting back into a pointing breed.
We had read an article in the "Outdoor Life" magazine about this "versatile hunting dog" breed, the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon. It sounded like something we would like, and since my two brothers were looking for dogs, we traveled to Iowa to watch them test. This is when the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Club of America (WPGCA) started to bring in the Cheskey Fousek to invigorate their griffons. Later on, both of my brothers ended up receiving pups from the club, and had good hunting companions for over 13 years.
I still had my old retriever when Dan Short approached me about getting a griffon. He had bought Stonybrook Billie, a purebred Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, a few years earlier and wanted to do a breeding with Tom Knutson's dog Aspen Point's Barrel. Dan was looking for good homes close by that would hunt and test the pups. I had seen Tom's griff "Rambo" years earlier in Iowa and was very impressed with his confirmation, type and prey drive. So in the summer of 1999 I was happy to get a pup and received my first purebred griffon, Stonybrook Ariel "Ally".
Ally had a lot of prey drive and desire and I soon fell in love with all aspects of this versatile breed. I took her out often grouse and duck hunting, and made my first trip to South Dakota hunting pheasants that fall. In the spring she tested with a top NA score in the WPGCA, and a month later in NAVHDA with a top Prize 1-112. I knew I had something special and looked forward to fall and the next hunting season.
I continued to hunt and train Ally and a year later she tested with a UPT prize 2 170. Dan Short asked to have her hips checked and she came back OFA excellent. So in the spring of 2003 we decided to have her bred to Pat McKinley's Shingobee Lake Czar. This was my first litter of pups and we used Dan's kennel name "Stonybrook" for the B litter. A year later we did a repeat breeding and had the Stonybrook D litter. Dan had also done the C litter with Ally's full sib Stonybrook Abby.
In 2005 we started our own kennel name "Stonyridge Kennels." We named it after a large limestone outcropping we call "The Ledge" that can be seen from our home. The ledge overlooks the Horicon marsh which is one of the country's largest wildlife refuges and a major resting area for waterfowl in the Central Flyway. We also wanted to keep the kennel name close enough to Dan's (right after in test score order) to show the tie we had together when we started. We will always remember Dan and continue his desire and passion in breeding great hunting dogs. We also want to thank all the many others that have helped us along the way as we try to maintain and improve a great purebred versatile hunting breed.
A special thanks to Brian White for following up on pups and litters along with all the NAVHDA folks and judges in helping with the evaluation and testing of our dogs.
We continued on and Ally was bred two more times and whelped the Stonyridge E and F litters. Ally is gone now, but she gave us nearly 15 years of great memories at home and in the field, and through her offspring we have been able to continue producing fine purebred Wirehaired Pointing Griffons.
My brother had kept a pup from Ally's B litter that was turning into a fine hunting dog. Bobby tested NA Prize 1-112 and had a solid point with a lot of drive. We bred her to Black River Dallas in '07 and '09 and whelped our Stonyridge G and H litters. I kept a pup from both of those litters and they each tested NA prize 1-112. Gretta and Hanna have been great hunting dogs and their full sib VC Stonyridge Gracey became Cliff Koele's foundation bitch at Coppershot Griffons.
Stonyridge Gem Stone "Gretta" was bred in 2010 to VC Alibi's Tommorow is a Better Day "Tommy" and produced our I litter. This litter tested well and VC Stonyridge Ivan went on and received his "Versatile Champion" title in 2014. Also Stonyridge Ida, from the I litter, was bred in 2014 and with help from Sheldon and Romona Torkelson whelped the Q litter. Gretta whelped several more litters with her pups doing great with high test scores. From her N litter VC Stonyridge Nika became Gretta's second Versatile Champion with 2 of the top 3 scores in 4 years.
Stonyridge High Point "Hanna" was a full sib to Gretta and whelped several litters. These have made outstanding pups that have tested very well and also have her friendly, happy demeanor. Congratulations to Jim Borg who tested Stonyridge Shelby from Hanna's S litter, who at less than 15 weeks of age, scored a top NA score of Prize 1-112. This is the youngest pup of any NAVHDA breed to score a Prize 1-112. Stonyridge Opal and Willow are full sibs to Shelby and also tested well. Opal had a NA 112 prize 1 at 5 months and Willow NA 108 prize II at 4 months. Opal and Willow are both in our breeding program and doing great!
Willow is smaller in type and quick in the field. She catches on fast and is fun to work with. We hope to take her all the way to a Versitile Champion like her full sib VC Stonyridge Otis. My brother Randy kept Stonyridge Magnum (Max) from Hanna's M litter. Max tested NA 110-prize 1 and his hips are OFA excellent. We used Max for stud a few times and made some very nice pups.
We also had VC Stonyridge Nika. She was one of Gretta's pups from the "N Litter" and sired by Shingobee Lake Honey Boy. Nika was very enjoyable to train and her and a litter mate tested with a NA prize 1-112 at 5 1/2 months of age. She also scored a UT 191 prize 3 at 2 1/2 years of age and UT 204 prize 1 at 3 1/2.
At 4 1/2 Nika became the highest scoring griffon at the 2017 NAVHDA Invitational and became a Versatile Champion!
In 2015 Nika was bred to Aspen Glo's Axel and gave us 13 pups for our R litter. She repeated in the spring of "16" and whelped 13 in our T litter, with a line breeding sired by Stonyridge Magnum (Max). With another repeat breeding in 2018 Nika had the A litter with 10 pups. We kept back a nice female-Ava . She has followed Nika with some great litters.
Nika is truly our ideal of a what this breed is and should be!
From Nika's R litter we kept Stonyridge Remember Shingobee. "Remy" is named after the late George Patrick McKinley's kennel Shingobee Lake. "Pat" was very instrumental in the WPG breed and helped us get started with our first two litters with Czar. Remy's grand sire is Shingobee Lake Honey Boy, a stud that Pat bred, and that we have used 6 times in our breeding program. Remy tested with a NA 112 prize 1. Remy was bred 4 times to VC Stonyridge Otis (full sib to Willow) from our O litter. She produced awesome pups that look great and have tested well. We have used 2 of her daughters in our breeding program. Zig and Daisy.
In 2017 we kept Willow out of our W litter. She is the last female of our great testing Hanna and Honey Boy litters. Willow really stepped up and taken over as are new matriarch. She has been making some very nice pups. We now have Lady from her LL litter and Just kept Rose from her RR litter. These 2 young females look to have that great nose and point, and a fun attitude that is just a joy to have around.
We have enjoyed working and training with this truly versatile breed and still enjoy our yearly pheasant and duck hunting trips to the Dakotas. Also grouse hunting in northern Wisconsin and duck, goose and pheasant hunts in the farm fields and ponds close by.
We have bred many more litters now and have done more generations. It's always great to see how genetics pass down from one generation to the next and still fun to watch natural instincts "kick in" and help develop young dogs.
With placing pups all across this country we have made many new friends and now have puppy families that we enjoy hearing from. We love to see how our griffs have impacted their lives. We plan to continue breeding our Wirehaired Pointing Griffons, keeping in mind our goals of improving and developing a great breed of versatile hunting dogs, and always looking forward to the next generation for us and others to enjoy.
John and Lori
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