All posts by Lorene

About Lorene

I am Lorene, a woman who lives in in NY Metropolitan area in NJ, in a small town on the edge of a large County park known as the Watchung Reservation. It creates the ambiance that I live in another place in time, surrounded by deep forests and wildlife, with wonderful walking trails that wind over and around the mountains. It is here that we exercise and go for hikes with our wonderful borzoi, with whom we live. We have a small kennel known as Blyss Kennels, here. My husband and I both work in the pharmaceutical industry which of course makes all of this possible. It takes a great deal of money to live as we do, here in Northern NJ, in such a lovely place. We are grateful to be here, and able to share our lives with these wonderful dogs. Are children are grown and gone. Today, we have them to love and love us back in return.

Blyss Magnus – Max

Lately, the name of Magnus, the dog I bred but who was sold by Karen Staudt-Cartabona   to Belisarius Kennels in Japan and became known in Asia as Max, has been coming up almost constantly.  It began almost immediately, when she used him at stud on a bitch, Majenkir  Spiral in a Circle.  Through that breeding, many get were born.  Kind owners who were local called me to let me know, many inviting me to their houses for lunch to meet my grand-dogs!  Later, I began seeing their names in show Catalogues, including at every National I attended for many years.  Then, local area friends informed me that their puppies were direct descendants of Magnus.  It was always amazing to me.

Later, when he was in Japan, we learned about Lucy, the most famous of all his get, about which so much has been written here and so much is shown on the Blyss Kennels website.  For, she was sent to the USA to have a most brilliant show career of two years duration, breaking every borzoi breed record in history, including Reserve Best of Breed at Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 2016.  How blessed we were.

This week, I innocently posted a photo of myself with Jelly doing something together, and a man from Thailand wrote to me letting me know he, too, has a descendent of the great Max!  He bought him from a breeder in Russia.  It appears there are descendants of Magnus/Max, and therefore, our beloved Mikhailya, his dam, all over the world now.

I came across this old email in my Sent messages and thought I would share it on Blyss Blog.  It captures what is truly in my heart, unedited, raw and true, in a letter to Karen.  I wisely blind copied it to myself, thereby saving it, only to be found over two years later by accident.   It brought tears to my eyes as I read it.

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RE:  Sighthound Review, Summer Issue, 2017

From:  Lorene Connolly <lorenecon@gmail.com>

Date:  Aug 14, 2017, 6:01 PM

To Karen, bcc: me

Dear Karen,

I received my summer issue of Sighthound Review today and took a minute to sit down and skim through it quickly while my borzois ate their dinner. I am so thrilled to see your nearly two page ad, especially the page outlining the remarkable Majenkir wins in Spring of 2017. I believe you wrote this up in Facebook, too, but I am especially happy you put it in Sighthound Review. It makes a great ad. Thank you for the mention of Regal and Magnus, and Magnus as the sire of Lucy, and her mention.

I will never forget the moment I first saw Magnus….. he had just been delivered by Caesarian and cleaned up, and the vet tech came out to show him to me. Upon seeing him, I knew then he was destined for greatness. I never wavered in that belief. I do remember writing to you in an email later that day and saying that. You must have thought, what does she know! Truly, I knew it. He was special at birth and has remained so throughout his life. I am so glad he was to be your dog, since you would know what to do with a great borzoi like that, and we never would have had the resources to give him what he deserved. He should not have languished his life in the suburbs as a pet. That’s fine for Tresor, who only needs love and care to be happy, but it would not have been right for him. I am so glad he turned out to be one of your great borzoi.

I feel blessed and honored to know you, and that together I helped you achieve a remarkable milestone in the borzoi annals of success.

Love,

Lorene

 

 

 

“I will by you a new life.” Everclear. In rock song lyrics, not Blyss.

I returned to the workplace full time on Tuesday, September 4, 2018, after working part time for one year, moving to a different retail store.   I was surprised to  have the position offered to me.  Sadly, I needed the money as well as more things to fill my time.   I was tired of having open ended unstructured days trying to navigate life as a widow very much held down by the responsibilities of keeping borzois and the upkeep of a home in an area of the country with a high cost of living.

For good news, it appears Jelly’s condition of chylothorax has disappeared.  I thought  it was always fatal.  There was no mistake in the diagnosis.  Her chest was tapped twice, with a considerable amount of fluid extracted.  Although it is perplexing , it is joyful to know she is well.

I have to stay focused on the blessings life has tossed my way, the ability to pay my bills, and the health of Jelly.  Her breeder and I are even discussing the possibility of showing her as a Veteran at the upcoming Borzoi Club of America National Specialty Show in May.  She finished her championship as a puppy, and this would crown her life.

Life goes along in these twisted, bizarre ways.  The return of Jelly’s health may portend to return her to the show ring where she began.  This would be her personal victory over death.  Many people would be happy for her, and I think for her breeder and me, too.  It would be a very happy ending to the story of Blyss Kennels, a story that began with the dramatic death of a precious puppy bitch, followed by that of my husband, leaving me alone and confused not knowing where to turn.  I would hope I brought it to the right place; a place with happy beautiful dogs and my life where it belongs.

The Fall Show Season Commences without Blyss

Somehow summer has passed.  I did not attend any dog shows.   I hoped to see N24, Jelly’s breeder, today at the Somerset Hills KC show but she was unable to make it.  This was the day of the Borzoi Club of Central NJ Specialty Show.  But somebody else did.  Sometimes, what goes around comes around.  Our first  contact in the borzoi world in September 2003, Casanova’s breeder, N23, had re-entered the borzoi show ring about two years ago with a beautiful boroi bitch and has been showing her with some success.  Now, her littermate, a dog, is being shown.  This weekend, he has been out with a notable handler.  She has been taking the breed all weekend.  But N23 has been coming in BOS with his bitch.  This means it has been two years now since N5, our mentor and President of the Borzoi Club of Central New Jersey, has not won our Club’s Specialty Show, since last year, N24’s beautiful “Hunter” won the Breed.

There were some friends notably absent, some due to illness, and some due to travel.  We don’t always get to do everything we want, especially if there are conflicts on the calendar.  I have become a real veteran of calendar conflicts this year.  One year ago, I took a part time job in a department store in Westfield, NJ.  After a year, I updated my resume and posted it on Indeed.com and Linked-in.com.  It was well received, and I was offered a far better job in a much better department store in Bridgewater, NJ in a beautiful, new mall.  I believe I will be much happier in this setting.  Moreover, it is a full time work opportunity for me, the first I have been able to find in ten years.  This has had an enormously positive effect on my moods.  I am elated and thrilled.  I feel far more experienced than I did a year ago when I began in the other store.  I was gripped by terror and anxiety for quite some time but forced myself to face it in spite of my agony.  Now, I feel some stress but I believe it will be over in a few days and I will be very comfortable there.  I am optimistic this will have a very positive effect on my finances which have been under great strain over the past two or three years, since getting Jelly and Tresor’s unexpected return.  I had “LT” install a dog door, and that involved some renovation on the deck, and when Tresor came, it required some areas of my fence to be changed and made higher.

Thinking of Tresor, it is nine months already that he is gone.  I still sense his spirit here with me in the house and I do not feel lonely for him.  I will always be so grateful  to have had him returned to me by his foster family.

Regarding Jelly, I have the most strange and surprising mews.  She was diagnosed with chylothorax in May, even though her presentation was mild, not acute.  However, her condition has not worsened, and if anything, even with the brutal heat we have had this summer, she has rallied and seemingly “recovered” for lack of a better word, which theoretically is impossible.  Life can be very strange.  A seemingly strong, healthy dog dies suddenly in my arms.  Another dog receives a devastating diagnosis and is expected to die imminently and several months later shows no sign of the disease.  I can only pray and embrace them both to my heart for they are so precious and dear.  I feel that although Jelly will be my last borzoi in my home, someday I will co-own Hunter with N24.  I adore him and he loves me; I can feel his love when we are together.  He is a  beautiful borzoi in every way and he makes me very happy.

The Specialty show is over now for another year.  I am getting ready for bed.  I am alone of course, alone now, and expect to be forever.   I believe I have loved for the last time.  “LT” has a new lady in his life.  They went on a long European vacation together and he said they had a very nice time.  However, he lives by his own rules and he just had to come by and tell me all about it.  Being in a relationship with him for any woman would not be easy.  That part is behind me.  Now, I can just think of the love I had for him as a memory and just be happy when he calls and asks if he can come over and see Jelly and me.  I still love to post photographs of him with Tresor from time to time on FB.  That way, people will always know I appreciate all he did for me a long time ago.

 

                                                  N21’s bitch  Korsakov Borzoi

                                                         The male.   Korsokov 

Blyss Changes and movings away from….

Jelly and I are spending as much time as possible together these days.  I know she is critically ill and I want to spend as much time with her as possible.  She always welcomes my company.  When I am not with her, I am at work at a job I found in Westfield.  My job  makes me happy in a strange way.  But it wasn’t supposed to be this way.  How different it will be for me to come home and find Jelly gone.  Will I really not get another borzoi?  Will I be able to not live without one?  Will I try a Silkin Windhund, a very similar dog instead?  Will I ever connect to  a partner again?  These are very scary questions for me to contemplate.  Especially if I have to endure them without a borzoi.  Will it be worth it to go on by myself?   If my heart is ripped out of my breast?

A Pre-summer Sunday at Blyss Kennels

It is a spring morning at Blyss, a damp, cool and cloudy day.   Slowly, I am getting the work in the flower beds done.  Jelly is much on my mind.  At eight years of age, she was recently diagnosed with chylothorax, a serious and even fatal respiratory disease.  Surgery is not an option. We are treating it medically.  She is handling it well.  Every day is a gift.   It has been good weather to walk Jelly and visit the neighbors.  It is also good weather for her to go out with her friend of two years, since I broke my shoulder, N-39, who took to stopping by and bringing Jelly to the Watchung Reservation with her and her Dalmation.  Even our friend LT, whom Jelly adores, drops in to lend a hand and visit her.   Jelly really does not know she is sick and is still able to run with bursts of speed.  She chases rabbit, squirrel, and even deer.  She is an amazing borzoi.  I am providing updates to all of her friends on Facebook, where she is very popular.

I have a part time job now at a local area department store.    However, I am beginning to believe this is not the best solution for me at this time.  I had to miss all of the specialty shows during the first week of May.   Then, the week off I had planned to go to the National I decided not to go because of Jelly’s illness.  I feel as if I have heaps of disappointments piling up on me.  And I feel my sense of isolation weighs heavily on me.  And I am somewhat limited about what  I can do about that because of caring for Jelly and not wanting to leave her alone for long periods of time.  I am very much a home-body, which to a large degree is a comfort to me, I admit.  But it is isolating.

Facebook is an enormous help, keeping me in touch with all of my friends in the borzoi community.  I have had much good news recently.  Jelly’s breeder, N-24, bred the bitch she bred three years ago.  She has eight healthy puppies.  The sire, from N-5, is a grandson of Magnus.  So, Magnus and Mikhailya are in their pedigrees.  Lucy, a Mikhailya  grand-daughter, returned to Japan and is living with N-38 of Belisarius Kennels.  She is currently in whelp and her puppies are due soon.  People all over the world are anticipating their birth.  It is so uplifting to see so much joy from these special dogs.

But it is more than just breeding and showing.  There is also a lot of news on Facebook about the efforts among the breeders and rescue organizations that have been formed, such as National Borzoi Rescue Foundation and National Borzoi Rescue Foundation – International, and the efforts of the Borzoi Club of America with their Beverley Taylor Trust enabling borzois who are in a bad way or place to be saved.  It pleases me so much to know that my own borzoi are not the only ones to be cared for and loved, including those that will never walk into a show ring.  I also want to say I applaud other breeds whose members have established comparable organizations to help their own.

In closing, today I want to thank the Maker of the Universe for the gifts of my borzoi, especially Tresor and Jelly.  Although it pains me that I lost Tresor in December,  and Jelly is ill, they still came into my life to give me love I could not find elsewhere.  I can only hope I did not let them down.  I cannot imagine life without a borzoi of my own to love, yet I must somehow face that prospect and go on.  I thank my friends for all they give me when they open their hearts and share their borzoi with me.

Lucy’s Farewell

After having written about Lucy and her many accomplishments over the last two years, the Grand-daughter of our Blyss Kennels bitch, Mikhailya, from the one litter she had, you are no stranger to her  phenomenal list of accolades.  However, if you have not followed the story or are new to the Blog, allow me to reproduce the post that Valerie Nunez-Atkinson, her handler of two years, wrote about her on the eve of putting her back on the plane to Japan.  Upon arrival, she will return to Belisarius Kennels to Mai Ozeki Hirai, her original owner and breeder.   Her great sire, “Max”, Mikhailya’s puppy, sadly passed last August and will not be there to greet her at her homecoming.  Valerie’s Facebook post follows, documenting Lucy’s show career and accomplishments:

May 8 at 9:52pm

 

See you soon…..on her way home to Japan

 

The time has finally came, forced to say our goodbyes, The Lovely Lucy is on her way home.

We’ve dreaded this day as we have done in the past and no doubt will in the future. It’s the hard part of opening our hearts to those that come to us, those that we welcome and take in as family.

Lucy, with us for over 2 years exceeded all expectations…2015 Top Dog All Breeds in Japan with her great handler Shota, AKC’s All Time Top Winning Borzoi, the #1Hound in 2017, National Specialty BISS, 3x BOB winner at the Westminster KC, 2x Hound Group Winner at Westminster KC and lastly RBIS at the 2016 Westminster KC….and she has also already produced a National Specialty Winning Son (WD & BOW)….All of that aside, she was just our dog that we loved and adored. She smashed every record and set more but for us she is the dog that stole our hearts with her sweet soft nature, silly snorts, scootie butt zoomies, her glamorous self and her heart that gave us her all every single time she stepped into the ring. And, that says it all considering she IS a Sighthound bitch, lol;)) When she came to us we didn’t know if she could withstand or have the want to show for what is expected here in the States….we were ready to accept that reality if it wasn’t in her heart. But, after her breathtaking USA debut at Westminster KC and her heart stopping RBIS from Famed Breeder Judge; Richard Meen we decided to see what she could do….. she readily and happily stepped up to the plate and the winning began….her National Specialty came from another Breeder Judge; Ron Spritzer (Carol Spritzer) with her Son, standing behind her, another Honor. Her AKC All Time BIS record was awarded by none other then Icon Mr. Frank Sabella, truly special in that he was a unexpected judge change that day and so thrilled to have USA owners Risky M. Molnar (Michele and Jamie Danburg on hand to celebrate the day with us.

Lucy gave Antonio his FIRST USA BIS with CJ going RBIS, another memorable day. She and Antonio went on to be awarded another 9, 10 in total for the Team of Antonio and Lucy. Her BIS total 28 in USA and 13 in Japan, career of 41 All Breed BIS’s. Much of Lucy’s success is a credit to Antonio , it was all on him to keep her in tip top shape mentally and physically. Her muscle was hard, her coat glorious (when in coat after all she is a bitch and was never ever on Cheque drops) she naturally came into and out of coat as any coated female would. When out of coat and breaking the all time record under Frank Sabella….his comment was “all the better to see all her beautiful curves, both a perfect Topline and Underline” from the Man that knows it was indeed a huge compliment to her outstanding quality and type. So, Antonio thank you, thank you for all you have done for Lucy in her time with us. She adores you like all the others do a true testament to your soul. For that I’m forever grateful.

To Michele and Jamie , we were so honored to have you join our team. Without your help, encouragement and never ending support Lucy would not of had this amazing career. We all love you both.

To Shota Hirai, Mai Hirai, Kyoko Ozeki, ?? ? Minoru thank you for choosing us. There have been many others in the decade of showing for you and no doubt many more to come but there will only be ONE LUCY. We love you all;)

To all that cheered us on through the years, we thank you. The fellow breeders that supported us we are forever grateful. And to all that was on Team Lucy, thank you??.

We have cried tears of joy many times with her, today the tears of sadness from our hearts, as she heads home to Japan.

The accolades are many indeed but today our hearts are breaking as we must say ….see you next time Lucy, forever Team #welovelucy.

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I will admit it is difficult for me to read this.  An era of historic borzoi conformation annals comes to an end with Lucy’s return to Japan.  My one comment about Mikhailya’s breeding has been consistent:  It proved to be very important to the borzoi breed  history, andir made so many people so happy.  Then why am I weeping?  As I often write on Facebook, “Tears……”

 

The many ways that dogs (borzois) move on

I have been greatly troubled by the winter weather since the death of Tresor in early December.  It is early May now.  Winter lingered on long, keeping snow flakes well in sight, and worries of icy roads and driveways  on everyone’s mind.  Where was spring, we all wonder.  My barometer is the color of the mountain.  The day the color of the mountain changes from black to green, it is sure to be spring.  That happened about a week ago.  And with it, the blossoms of the flowering fruit trees soon followed.  All seemed right with the world.

Jelly developed what looked like a fatty tumor on her chest.  The mostly off and on again boyfriend, “LT”, insisted I take her to the vet as if it were a matter of life or death.  So I made an appointment and took the long trip to Washington, NJ.  I shall be brief…..  her heart beat sound was “muffled”…..  it was determined at Garden State Veterinary Specialists in Tinton Falls that she has chylothorax.  They removed one liter of white, fatty liquid from her chest.  Now she is on a pill, a flavonoid called Rutin, three times a day, and eats a no fat prescription kibble.  She seems totally cured.  I have an appointment with the veterinarian in Washington on Monday, four days from today, for a follow up visit.  I am hoping for a clear heart sound.  In the meantime, Jelly’s behavior is totally normal.  She does not act ill and never did.  Dogs with this disease are usually very ill and must have surgery or they will die.     We are so lucky Jelly seems to be doing so well.

In life, so much can change in the matter of one heart beat.  I am very much aware of that and live in a state of suspended terror every day for the welfare of my borzoi.

My theory of how this happened is that it was a physical manifestation of her stress about losing Tresor.  I am very lucky she has not died already.

Thinking about the things that be for Blyss Kennels without The Tre

Yesterday, my club, Borzoi Club of Central New Jersey, held a Supported Entry at the New Brunswick Kennel Club show at the New Jersey Convention Center in Edison, NJ.  We got 22 borzoi to enter, and it included Sweepstakes classes.  Many long time showing friends from the club and the nearby clubs were there, showing their new puppies.  Jelly’s breeder was supposed to be there but changed her mind at the last minute and stayed home.  I was disappointed to lose the chance to see her but she has invited me to come up again another day.

There were those surprise conversations one finds they are having with others at a dog show that really stand out.  A woman and I, a woman whom I respect and whom I have seen so many times, actually took the time to have a brief conversation that proved to be very profound.  She knew all about Tresor and his recent death.  She told me she thought he was one of most spectacular borzoi she had ever seen.   That was a huge complement coming from her.  She works for Karen (Mikhailya’s breeder, & my litter’s co-breeder).  It’s interesting how dog people in the category of peers or friends say things like that to me, but from the breeders, there is a wall of silence.  Even about Magnus and Lucy.  Like it never even happened.  I guess that is how they feel about me a lot of the time:  Oh, her, like she never even happened.

When Tresor took his last breath, the last puff of happiness left my life and it is not coming back any time soon.  My Tre, My Boy, My Heart, My Love.  How could you go and leave me here without you?

Trying to join the human race again from Blyss Kennels

Having lost Tresor so recently, exactly four weeks ago from today, I am trying to orient myself to the human race again, or at least give myself that appearance.  I had not even tried before this.  I signed up for my eight week yoga class the Mountainside town offers for its residents.    It’s a wonderful class, and I need the exercise the movements provide to me.  I need all the strengthening of my core I can get.  I am a frail and fragile woman but need to regain bone and strength.  I am back at Church and participating in Church life.

I don’t know how I am doing so well.  I will give some credit to my doctors, the ones I met and had to establish long term relationships with after Opal died in 2006 and I was still suffering deep grief in 2008 and was unable to go on.  Drugs with strange names like Pamalor and Seraquel come to mind.  There are more, several more.  They help me cope with pain; they keep pain at bay; all kinds of pain.  That’s been the difference between the two events.  I have help this time.   I had none in 2007.

Still, I must have learned something about resilience and its value, how important it is to be able to stand on your own two feet, the desirability of being autonomous, no matter what you lose: mothers, husbands, beloved borzoi and other equally loved dogs I am sure such as Yorkies, Malteses, a Cairne and even a Fox Terrier!  No, I liked my dog breeds challenging, for sure.  I like a dog that shows it thinks!  There is so much more of it to love.

But it was the sur-reality of borzoi love that did me in; a dog breed that can mimic human emotions of love yet ready to hunt savagely in a heart-beat!   A dog with a beauty so breathtaking you do not believe your own eyes!  You become ruined for another breed.  If you cannot have another borzoi, why have a dog at all?

My Russian Prince is gone.

He is nowhere to be found except in my visions, and then he is everywhere.  His toys and dog beds still litter the floors, his kibble holder remains, as do his leash and collar.  When I walk into a room, I expect to see you there, and in a way I do, in a surreal vision of memory that cannot let go.  My Tre: if only we could have been together just a bit longer; if you could have made it to ten years.  I feel cheated that you left too soon……but whenever it would have been, it never would have been long enough.

Your Beloved littermate, Magnus, left in August, to great shock and grief.  I should be grateful for the extra months of time.  But now, I am left to grieve in the deepest darkest days of winter, as I go through the motions of being a good dog Mom to Jelly.  She has a way of keeping my focus on her, like that is her job now.  Her great depth and breadth of beauty, so unlike yours, distracts me.  It’s like, why did I never notice it before?  It was because yours was like a light that blinds all others, and all I could see was you.

She even tries to mimic your recently found naughty ways.  You did not approve of my new part time evening job in a nearby department store.  So you started to counter surf  and raid  the garbage for the very first time in your life.    Now, to my shock and horror, Jelly has begun to do it too.  Where you ate my bag of Balthazar bakery croissants, she ate my favorite peanut butter cookie from Quick Check and stole one of the daily pill holders from my weekly pill tray.  Was this a suicide attempt, I wonder?  Like you, she  wants me home with her more.  I know I am being judged, and I do not get any more of a passing grade from her as I did from you.  In the end, I let you down and so you perished.  Will Jelly?

Friends are avoiding me, waiting for me to call them first to talk.  I guess I am not on peoples’ luncheon lists anymore.  I hear there is gossip about when I plan to put away the dog beds (notice the plural), as if there were so many.  I want to leave your bed and personal items in place forever.  After all, this was your home.  I have no friends anymore, I accepted that years ago.  That’s why You, my Darling Boy, were so precious.  Better than human, you held me in your highest esteem of love and I dwelled in a paradise of that divine gift where no person could hurt me again.  I had you then …..My Life Treasure…… My Tresor!  Farewell, CD Blyss O’Majenkir Heavenly Treasure!

Macine Bochnia
Portrait of Tresor

Portrait by Maxine Bochnia, Fandogs.