Thornridge Wrinkles

Int. CH Thornridge Wrinkles

Webster, New York

From the standpoint of having sired 47 champion sons and daughters thus far in his life International Champion Thornridge Wrinkles stands today as the top show champion Beagle in the country. He is to the show world what Gray’s Linesman is to the field beaglers when it comes to producing potential, and influence on his aspect of breed. Wrinkles’ story actually begins April 17, 1943 when a female Beagle known later as Ch. Joyful of Culver Hill was born. Joyful was sired by the immortal Ch. Thornridge Toney, a hound that sired 34 show champions and 22 field trial winners, a record in his time. When Joyful was three months old she was purchased by Mr. William Pitkin, Rochester, New York, for use as a house pet. When she was about two years old I tried to induce Mr. Pitkin to show Joyful at some of the dog shows, but it was to no avail … he had bought her for a pet, and a pet she was to stay! Besides, he had trained her to run rabbits and she wasn’t t going to be chained to any bench. But, like all dogs, Joyful had one bad fault. She adopted the habit of reaching on the kitchen table to partake of any food to be found thereon – and with her keen nose, finding what was there from some distance was no problem. Joyful thought nothing of consuming a pound of butter at a single sitting, at a time when butter was rationed, which did not do much to endear her to Mrs. Pitkin, who for two cents more or less would have given Joyful away and thought it a bargain.

Since I could not induce the Pitkins to show Joyful, I decided the next best thing would be to breed her to a good dual purpose stud. At that time I owned Champion Eberle’s Mickey II, a show champion with wins at both cottontail and hare trials. His dam interestingly and significantly, was by Ch. Thornridge Toney, and Joyful was also by Ch. Thornridge Toney, which added up to two crosses of this great hound close up. After considerable maneuvering, Mr. Pitkin agreed to breed Joyful to Mickey, and in turn was to give me a puppy of my choice from the mating.

In due time Joyful whelped three puppies, two males and one female. When the pups were eight weeks old I selected the female as she was small and resembled Joyful, but two weeks later I decided to take her back for one of the males. I had the male sold for a hundred dollars, which at that time wasn’t bad for a puppy eight weeks old, by my standards. When I returned to the Pitkins to make the change, one of the male pups looked up at me and I noticed he had a number of wrinkles across his forehead and the Pitkins called him Wrinkles, which was a very nice name, and on reflection I thought it fit him well. Anyway, it was not hard to select him from the other, and I took him home where I found myself holding a check for a hundred dollars in one hand, and Wrinkles in the other. I thought about it for a while, and presently I returned the check and kept Wrinkles, promptly registering him under my own kennel name as Thornridge Wrinkles. I took him out and put him in the kennel and there he was, just another puppy.

A few months rolled past, and presently the Pitkins decided to sell Joyful back to me, and I promptly accepted her. I shipped her to my good friend and well-known Beagle handler, Mr. Lee Wade of Cleveland, Ohio, and he took her over and had her in show condition in short order. She was first shown in 1945 at Muncie, Indiana, where she won her first Hound Group. In less than two and a half weeks at four straight shows she finished for her title, and in 1946 was chosen as the 15 inch Miss America by Hounds & Hunting magazine.

In July, 1946, Wrinkles was eleven months old, and I shipped him to Mr. Wade, asking him to look him over and see if he thought he was ready for showing, and if he thought so, to enter him at both the Stark Specialty Show on July 27, and the Chagrin Falls Specialty Show on July 28. Show time came and Wrinkles went Reserve Winners at his first show, the Stark, where he was the talk of the show. Rumors began to travel fast that here was a great hound and before long I was approached by a gentleman who offered to buy Wrinkles. After having two or three professional handlers look Wrinkles over he offered me $250 for him, and while I didn’t really think too much of the idea of selling, I was caught by surprise, and under this influence set a price of $35O, which this gentleman promptly accepted. There I was with a check for $350. But when I mentioned that Wrinkles was entered at the Chagrin Specialty Show the next day, the prospective buyer decided not to take possession until after that show.

About half an hour later, Doctor Anthony Benedict, a dentist friend of mine, who had accompanied me on the trip to attend the shows, came to me and said, “Sam, this fellow who bought Wrinkles just got the worst bawling out from his wife that I’ve seen a man take, because he bought a dog that his wife says he needs like he needs a hole in his head!” Anyway, next morning Doctor Benedict and I were sitting at the ringside waiting for the judging to start when a stranger walked up to me and said, “Are you Mr. Granata?” I confessed that I was, to which this stranger handed me an envelope and walked away. The envelope contained a letter from the gentleman who had bought Wrinkles, saying he was very sorry but he could not take Wrinkles and keep peace with his wife at the same time. Doctor Benedict looked at me and said, “Sam, there goes $35O, but I’m not a bit surprised after the way I heard his wife bawl him out last night. Wouldn’t it be something if Wrinkles goes Winners for the five points today!”

It happened that Lee Wade had a 15 inch dog on his string before I sent Wrinkles to him, and he had this hound set for the Open class.When Wrinkles won the American Bred class and the other hound won the Open class, it meant that we could not take both hounds into the ring. He came to me and explained the situation, saying that since he couldn’t take Wrinkles into the ring himself, he had his friend Joe Storey lined up to handle him. He introduced me to Mr. Storey, and told me not to worry because Mr. Storey was a good handler, but believe me, I did worry, because I felt Wrinkles did not know him and probably would not handle for him as well as he did for Lee Wade. To my amazement, Wrinkles responded like a charm and went on to Winners Dog which gave him five points towards the championship. Mr. Storey thereupon offered to give Wrinkles back to Lee Wade for the next class, which was for Best of Winners, but Lee told him that it was his dog for the day, and he should continue with him. Mr. Storey did continue with Wrinkles, taking him to Best of Winners, Best of Breed, and finally to Best in Show. When Wrinkles won the Best in Show award the first thing that came to my mind was how bad the man that had refused to take him was going to feel. Of course it was a great day for me. To top it all off, Mr. Nate Levine, the judge, told me he thought Wrinkles was one of the greatest hounds he had seen for his age and told me to keep him out of circulation for a couple of months so that he would get rid of his puppy coat.

I immediately made arrangements with Charlie Swartz to train Wrinkles in the field, and in the month Charlie had him he told me he honestly thought Wrinkles to be the greatest hound he had ever seen, and that he thought he would make one of the greatest records a Beagle has ever made, a prediction that has certainly come true. He added that he thought Wrinkles would make a real gun dog, but was not sure that he would be good enough to run in field trials, as he was just getting started nicely when Lee Wade arrived to pick him up to take him back to Cleveland to enter him in more shows.

His month of hard field training helped build up Wrinkles, and after another month of conditioning for shows by Lee Wade, he was ready for the best of competition. During 1946, his first year shown, Wrinkles racked up the following record: Best in Show at eleven months of age, a champion in three five-point shows, three Best in Shows in two months, fifteen times Best of Variety, seven times first in Hound Group, four times second in Hound Group, one time fourth in Hound Group, placed in Group every time shown in Group.

In 1947, Wrinkles’ record was as follows: 35 times Best of Variety, fourteen times first in Hound Group, ten times second in Hound Group, four times third in Hound Group, seven times Best in Show.

That was the year someone put newspapers covered with blood from a bitch in heat on his bench at the Westminster Kennel Club at the Garden to try and get him nervous and excited so he would not show properly, but he went on to win in the Hound Group.

The same year, on August 3, 1947 at the Central Specialty Show, at Saxonburg, Pennsylvania, someone deliberately tried to disfigure Wrinkles by cutting the hair off his back with a hair clipper, but there again in spite of all this he went on to win Best in Show. I offered $500 reward for the arrest and conviction of the culprit, but he was never found.

In 1948 Wrinkles was Best in Show once, twenty times Best of Variety, ten times first in Hound Group, four times second in Hound Group, twice he was third in Hound Group, and twice he was fourth in Hound Group. Also, during 1948 Wrinkles went to Canada where he won his Canadian Championship in three shows to make him an International Champion.

The year 1949 was a great one for Wrinkles, for in addition to being Best in Show once again, he was seventeen times Best of Variety, seven times first in Hound Group, seven times second in Hound Group, and twice he was third in Hound Group. In addition, he was chosen by Life magazine as one of the top ten dogs in America, and his picture, taken by a Life photographer, appeared in color in the January 31, 1949 issue. Wrinkles also won the Award of Canine Distinction, presented by the Judy Publishing Company, in Chicago, publishers of Dog World magazine.

During 1950 Lee Wade did not show Wrinkles extensively, and he was shown only eleven times, winning two Best in Shows, eleven Best of Varieties, and numerous other places. It was during this year that Lee and I decided to give Wrinkles the long earned rest he deserved, and he was retired from further competition to become the greatest Beagle champion of record ever, in the United States and Canada, with a total of 103 Best of Variety wins, sixteen Best In Shows, and 84 Group places.

Then in 1954 we were invited to attend the show of the International Kennel Club of Chicago, where Wrinkles received the Award of Canine Distinction again. This time the award read: “For the following outstanding, meritorious and noteworthy accomplishment in the field of dogs, dog breeding and showing, to wit: For the record as sire of champion show Beagles, a record which is the greatest of any Beagle male, past or present and having been approached only by his grand sire, Champion Thornridge Toney, who was the sire of 34 show champions, this award is presented to Int. Ch. Thornridge Wrinkles for the world record in the breed; namely, having sired to date 36 show champions. Added to this number can be progeny already on the way to their championships, plus new litters to be sired. Wrinkles’ record should place him among the immortals of the Beagle breed for all time.”

When Wrinkles was given this award, he was eight and a half years old, but he was in such excellent condition that we decided to enter him in competition instead of for exhibition only, which was our original plan. Although a little gray at the temples and lacking his usual pep, he went to the top winning his 104th Best of Variety, but we knew this was Wrinkles’ last show. The parting of the ways was a difficult one for Lee Wade and Wrinkles, as they had from long association become great pals. to this day Lee is often called “Mr. Wrinkles” and once a year when he comes to visit wrinkles, he leaves with a tear in his eye…. a sincere and real tribute to a hound in this mans opinion, is the greatest little Beagle that ever lived.

Reprinted from Hounds & Hunting