I suppose after the whirlwind of Lucy, beginning in February 2016 when she won Reserve Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club in February 2016 followed up with winning the Best in Specialty Show at the Borzoi Club of America National Specialty Show in Kansas City a few months later, the time has come to turn the focus of the spotlight of Blyss Blog Encore back on me and the Blyss borzoi that remain with me, Tresor and Jelly. It has been a diversion, for sure, but not one that could go unreported. It has been a dazzling whirlwind that no one ever dreamed could be possible. It was beyond the limits of dog show imagination! Yet, to return to quotidian matters, life simply goes on, as it has done before. I wish I had some news, or an accomplishment of my own…. I wish I could announce that I was buying a new borzoi puppy….. that will not be happening. My time is spent working on dog club jobs, going to dog shows, church, making new friends in civic minded clubs and keeping loneliness at bay. I cannot imagine life without Tresor and Jelly, so hopefully we shall all be together for a very long time. Yet, I have to brace myself for the day when they are no longer here. After all, I still grieve for Opal, dead eleven years in July.
In addition to the small circle of regular girlfriends that I have lost touch with recently, my dog friends have been remote this summer. It was confirmed when one woman, over the phone, repeated something Jelly’s breeder allegedly felt towards me that would have been better left unsaid. That experience has been difficult to endure. I think the established breeders share very strong bonds with one another, and in their eyes, I have not proven myself very much for anything. I am sure I have offended everybody at some point though be it unintentionally.
I have decided to be very grateful for my borzois, Jelly and Tresor, more than I can ever put into words. They truly bring me joy and peace. I will focus on what is good in my life, and what makes me truly happy.
So far, summer has been lovely. Unfortunately for me, I have spent way too much time performing grueling labor. First, I created flower beds, involving bringing in soil and mulch. There were two long flower beds involved, both about sixty-five feet long. I don’t know how my fragile, petite body did it. After that was done, I had to turn my attention to the deck with the peeling paint, that the contractor said was “normal” and “okay”. I did not agree. He did not stand behind his work. Angry words were spoken, and I said, well, I will fix this myself. On the outside, I was strong and tough, but on the inside, I was devastated and depressed. I can’t imagine anyone I know having to do anything even remotely like this daunting a task. It made the garden work look easy. But, my depression only made me tackle it with more ferocity. I was not going to let this mean man get the better of me. Home Depot is my new Bloomingdales. I can go in and not even have to ask where things are anymore. I can take care of myself now. It is my goal to reverse the damage done to my deck by staining it after the wood was clean and sanded.
Aside from that debacle, I see many of my Facebook friends are enjoying beautiful vacations. A very respected pair of twin sisters recently rescued some horses, and used them to go on a horse-b ack riding vacation out west, which is where they live. They took photographs of the beautiful scenery their journey with their horses took them. I cannot even imagine a more enjoyable vacation than spending time on a journey through the American west with a beloved sister and on horseback. It struck me as such a precious gift to give one another, that their closeness allows they share so much the same passions. They are both sight-hound breeders, and AKC judges. I am truly in awe of them and their accomplishments. I was sent several other Facebook vacation photos of friends in other pretty places enjoying themselves, but they all paled in comparison to those of the two sisters riding in the west.
I was thrown a cruel dagger this week from a cruel woman, a woman who just spits out venom without any thought of how she sounds, or the damage she does to the human spirit. It has gotten her in trouble before, and she certainly has gotten herself in trouble with me, and my friendship with Jelly’s breeder, N24. That is unfortunate. The woman spoke for her, alleging I am no longer welcome at N24’s home because she does not like my Tresor, with whom I travel and bring there with me. We never had a problem with him there because she has adequate space to keep him separated from her one male, and he is very well behaved around bitches. This is a very tender place in my heart, or so I found out. I cannot bear to think that people have ill will toward My Boy, who, along with myself, has been through so much. We lost Bob to cancer six years ago. It caused me to have to give him up. then, two years ago, he was suddenly given back. And yes, it is a bit beyond my ability to handle him. I need help. However, my home has a very good set up for him, and unless there is an accident with one of the fences, or a door – more about that follows – Tresor is safe and secure here with me. He is a wonderful borzoi, full of love and happiness for people, and all he asks of life is to be walked a few times a day to be happy, and loved in return.
Since I do my own yard work now, I was outside and forgot for a few minutes that the garage door had been left open when I went into the house for a few minutes. This causes a breach in the security for my borzois. It was pure carelessness on my part that allowed this to happen. The last time I saw them, my borzois were on my bed in the bedroom asleep. I was just finishing a light lunch when a man who lives a block or so from my house rang my front door-bell. When I came to the door, he said my dog had been in his yard, and had killed the animal now at his feet. I looked down through the screen door, and saw a dead, red colored creature. I thought it was one of his cats, so I began to profusely apologize. He said it was not, it was a young fox! I assumed it was Jelly, and we went out together to find her. She was spotted right away in the neighbor’s yard next door, having not gone far, and was just taking a stroll through the yards of the neighboring properties. When we spotted “her”, we all called out to “her” and “‘she” sauntered over. However, to our extreme surprise and shock, it was NOT Jelly at all, it was Tresor! He knew how to sneak out of the house and get off the property, and once out, took himself on a hunting trip. I felt so proud of him, that he showed intelligence by not running away in the street, or going the half-mile south down the road to US Highway 22, or run a half-mile north into the Watching Reservation, and may never have come back. He wanted to get out, and he did it the smartest way possible, on a hunting trip close to home, and he brought me back his prize.
I also saw today on Facebook that Lucy, the great show bitch, who is the grand-daughter of our very own Majenkir bitch, “Mikhailya”, won a Group 1 placement at show in Kansas. She certainly gets around. Again, her handler looks like she is having the time of her life!
The week started badly, with many burning tears cried for the painful words I had to hear spoken about my Boy. The thought that people think ill of him disgusts me. He is a great borzoi and I take wonderful care of him. I care for him and Jelly to such a degree that you can call it devotion, and commitment. They are my lifeline now. I know they are not perfect, they are flawed, and probably nobody would ever want them but me, but they are mine to love absolutely and unconditionally. That is how they love me.
Only I could arrive here, safely and alone with Tresor and Jelly besides me in this house, as if navigating our own small ship, on the eve of the Fourth of July. Although in my mind’s eye, I imagine myself with them bobbing on gentle waves riding along the NJ coastal shore in the Atlantic ocean. I reminisce, it is a delightful time to be in Mountainside. It creates the most enchanting illusion that it is about one-hundred years earlier, when there were not so many houses built along the side of this mountain, the first ridge of the Watchung Mountain range. With heavily wooded lots replete with lumbering shade trees, and deer appearing here and there as if they were pets, one can easily drive by a house and not see it.
My walks with Jelly have been telling. You have to pay attention. She enjoys walking in the field behind the Catholic Church across the street. This is the exact site where I had my accident walking Tresor last year after he saw a ground hog. Jelly does not run around much, but she looks for squirrels and rabbits. One evening, at a distance away, I saw pair of frolicking fawns, their tiny bodies still covered with white spots. The doe appeared a minute or two later. We both froze and watched them. When they were out of sight, we continued our walk. Later, on the Rectory lawn, we saw two large young bucks enjoying the nearby foliage. Then I saw the special little blinking; fire flys! I was transported back decades in the split of a second. It was a beautiful night. I let Jelly off leash. She wanted to stalk a rabbit. She did her thing. She is no hunter. The rabbit got away onto a neighbor’s lawn. She followed it there. I called her, and she took her very sweet time coming back to me. She was a brat. For that, I put her on the leash! But overall, Jelly is such a good companion dog.
Reading Facebook this week, I saw more news of the great show bitch, “Lucy”. She is the grand-daughter of our Majenkir bitch, “Mikhailya”, who left this world four years ago on June 13th. “Lucy” won her twentieth Best in Show, and a wonderful photograph was posted of her.
For my own reasons, valid and not, my heart breaks for being here alone except for my dogs. I am not that kind of person who is solitary very well. I long for interaction, dialog, having things to look forward to doing with someone. I put a lot into my relationships, and they are all gone, many to death. Many people in my life have died, and I am only in my mid-sixties. That rather shocks me.
My beautiful borzois inspire me to be more than I am, for I know they need me and I must be at my best for them. I run my hand through their beautiful white coats and embrace them to my heart! Jelly! Tresor!
It was almost two years ago today that Tresor was returned to me by his family who owned him for four years. I do not like to think of those years without him. But, once he was returned, it was like he never was gone at all. We picked up our relationship as if we just saw each other the day before. I consider Tresor a gift and a blessing in my life.
Finally, it was around the Fourth of July in 2006 that Blyss Kennels endured its first tragedy and loss, the death of Opal at nineteen months of age. My grief for her was lengthy and profound. I became shockingly ill, but I could not control how it made me feel. Today, looking back on it, I don’t know how I survived the experience. I had to learn how to be well again and find new ways to be happy. Life had let me down, after all.
Today, I try to remember Opal with joy in my heart. I had the best borzoi I ever could have had. She made me extremely happy; she just could not stay with me very long. However, I am still very lonely and unhappy without her! I beg God to please unite us sometime soon. I want to touch her exquisitely beautiful borzoi face again, and run my fingers through her silky, white coat. She glowed and sparkled in the sun! Her body had stunning sighthound curves that made her look so graceful. I have never seen a creature like her before or since.
I still love her so much. And when I think of her, I think of the words of that gorgeous Pearl Jam song, “Come Back”
Then, there were my own feeble words, Opal’s Prayer:
Unable to deny His request to take her, Opal lives in heaven now.
How? Why? Thy will be done. Dear God, Opal is yours now!
Last week, from May 13 – 20, 2017, the Borzoi Club of America held its National Specialty Show in Hunt Valley Maryland. I attended with my late husband’s sister, N35, on Friday and Saturday, May 19 – 20, allowing me to see some of the bitches judged, and Best of Breed on Saturday. It was a wonderful experience to be there and my only regret was not being able to be there all week. I simply did not have reliable dog help here at home during those days.
To say it was exciting would be an understatement. One very positive result was that I got to spend a lot of time with May Ozeki Hirai and her husband, of Belisarius Kennels, who were there together showing the great Belisarius “Vinto”, “Mikhailya’s” great-grandson, who won Winner’s Dog at last year’s National. He is a Grand Champion now and was to be shown in Best of Breed.
Since I was not at the National last year in Kansas City, KA, I felt it was very important for me to be there this year. I had a wonderful time, even though Vinto did not make it into the final cut.
The winner was the bitch, Grand Champion, Champion Dog Majenkir Bookstore Glamour Vintage, owned by the two “Karens”, N5 and N36, of the NJ Borzoi Club. It goes without saying they were elated and exuded charm and graciousness to all whom they met. N37 had handled the bitch to perfection; there is a special magic between them, since she had lived with him and he handled her during her younger years, from puppy classes through being a special at five years of age. The win was a beautiful thing to watch. Together, they were very deserving. I am so pleased to have been there.
Saturday night there was a banquet. We had the pleasure of sitting at the same table with them and another couple from the NJ Club. It was wonderful to be in such joyful company and it greatly elevated my mood. I noticed on the table, there was an amazing object for a centerpiece. It is difficult to describe. It appeared to be a combination quilt and wreath, made of cloth, and sewn into a very intricate pattern. At the end, there was a little game given from the podium that determined who at the table would win it. As it turned out, my sister-in-law won it, and she immediately turned it over to me. It made a perfect ending to a perfect National Specialty for me. Of course, an hour later, in bed, when I was trying to go to sleep, I found it impossible to do so because I was so awakened by all of these exciting events. Sadly, I had to resort to a sleeping pill, which is never a good idea for me especially when I have to get up so early and be on the road. My poor sister-in-law needed to go as far away as New Hampshire before she would be home. She had to drive me home since I could not from lack of sleep.
Driving home, I felt so sad my husband had not been there with me to see the great-grand son of his beloved “Mikhailya”, and to have been able to meet Mai and her husband. Mai invited me to see her in Japan, where she assured me explicitly my beloved “Magnus” still lives. I had feared he had died, since I have heard nothing of him for several years. She assured me he was very well, and I should come to visit. This is something that comforted me enormously; it was an answer to prayers that I dared not speak. My Boy, My Magnus lives! He was the most dear and special one of the litter! He proved the depth of quality of his dam, “Mikhailya” in every way. I love him passionately. He has made me so proud because I know Mai loves and appreciates him so much. What can I say…… so much happiness has come from one breeding for so many people….. I thank N5 so much for letting it happen.
Sometimes I do not know how I go on one day to the next. Much is happening here at Blyss. Some of it is very private, such as my relationships; some pertains to my life with borzoi, such as Lucy’s continued good fortune in the ring; some pertains with my colossal efforts to make serious changes to my outlook on life in order that I may be more successful going forward. I expect to do better in the short term going forward.
First of all, my borzois, Tresor and Jelly, are doing well. Both recently went through a period of harrowing, serious health scares. Then, winter has gone, and we are slowly easing into the rising temperatures of spring. It is April now, and soon there will be the seemingly sudden greening of the Mountain behind me, that dimension of ancient places, the Watchung Reservation, that I call home, in my back yard. Moreover, I have been called upon to do a job for my primary breed club as Show Chair for our Specialty show in September. Having spent the second half of the day and evening working on it, I am confident it will be completed very soon, pending the answers of some questions I asked of the President.
There is now a thaw in a formerly cold relationship but sadly I expect the relationship to remain forever in the past. My assessment of the man was correct when I said good-bye. I have further come to believe he hurts me so much because he, along with another man I recently loved, is a cad but for a different reason. For, like the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz, he has no heart. I am looking for a different kind of partner for my world, one who may have some space in his life for a woman like me. It sounds so simple when put this way but this person is very elusive to find. Although it’s been easy to lose all hope, I will be committed to finding such a partner until the day I die.
In the meantime, there is the special beauty of Tresor and Jelly who make every day a special gift of love, grace and beauty.
Undoubtedly, there has been much to be happy about at Blyss Kennels. Tresor and Jelly are both well, even if I am taking Tresor to the veterinarian’s office tomorrow about an abscess on his gum. I am not going to let them make me worry tonight. We had an unseasonably warm steak of weather for February, with temperatures in the 60s and mid-70s. So yes, all this is good news. And recently, the beautiful international champion bitch, “Lucy”, the grand-daughter of our Majenkir bitch, “Mikhailya”, won Best in Breed and placed in the Hound Group two years in a row at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City on February 14, 2017. My son, Graham, and I were both there in attendance on Tuesday night to see the final judging. Last year, “Lucy” went all the way and was awarded Reserve Best in Show. My heart stopped. It was one of those rare times when I thought of my late husband, and hoped somehow or somewhere, he was watching that joyful moment.
So why did I break down in private so badly? How could something so banal make me so ill? What, or shall I say who was behind it, if anybody? Who holds so much power over me, yet did? Even I was shocked at the slope of the trajectory and the speed at which I slid downwards on it once it got in my way. But it did. And for those who want to read about the dirt, so bad that not even borzoi love could protect me from, here it is.
Dumped. In retrospect I probably never had a chance. Your way…. a cad’s way……. I cannot recall a cross word….. and when I believed in us most of all you dissipated in silence.
I seek the special forest high in the mountain in the sun Where a wild hawk can soar so high above the tops of the trees as if by magic then is out of sight. Or, slivers of light in the night – stars – Guide our feet along many winding trails. I encounter strangers there. “Where is your home?”, they ask? “Let me take you there.” And I reply, “No. It’s gone forever. Good-bye, Friends, far and wide. Good-Bye.”
I cannot seem to overcome my negativity about being alone in the heart of winter and so I feel no need to write about it in my blog. We are all well at last. Jelly had a serious injury last October that kept her in pain until well into January. I am so grateful all of her problems appear to have dissipated. Now I have to work harder on mine.
Now, it is only mid-February. So much snow is still expected to fall. A kind neighbor snow-blowed my driveway last week when we had a large snow-fall. I do not seem to be able to shovel anymore. My body tells me, “No”. I listen. My mind tells me things, too, and although I do not know what to make of them, I listen. They are not good. But not only do I listen, I believe.
But all is well with Tresor and Jelly now. I have fun with them, and I can truly say they are my only joy. I live alone now, friendless, and as they say, even when I meet someone, “The Song Remains The Same” by Led Leppelin, or like the B side of a 45 with a bad needle stuck in a groove.
This week was the 141st Westminster KC Dog Show. Again, for the second year in row, Lucy, my Blyss Kennels’ “Mikhailya’s” grand-daughter, won Best of Breed. Sadly, she did not win the Group. She was robbed by Norwegian Elkhound handled by a very old, frail woman with a strong presence in past Hound Group rings whom the Judge acknowledged. Lucy was given a Group Four instead. My son and I were there in person Tuesday night to see the Sporting Group, Herding Group and Terrier Group judging, and Best in Show.
Somehow, we got over that Lucy was not there and had lot of fun. I got to stay overnight in his new apartment in the East Village. It was a happy and fun occasion. Then, Wednesday I had to take a taxi to Penn Station to catch a NJ Transit train that would take me home to the Summit, NJ station. A girl-friend picked me up. We had lunch in Summit and fantasized we were on the Upper East Side instead.
I don’t know how any of this has happened to me. Why am I here in such a lonely place, I ask myself? I am beginning to believe true happiness is not meant for me in this world. When my borzoi both pass away, I will a have to reevaluate what I am doing. But for now, living with perfect love, borzoi love, this is as happy as it is going to get. For now, they can make me smile.
If there was ever a difficult week to be alone it is this one. All of the surrounding bushes so alive with either blossoms in the spring or their autumnal dried flowers in the summer or fall have the unequivocal beyond a doubt look of dead. It is hard to believe they will ever bloom again. Today, when I walked Jelly throughout the neighborhood, I even passed a house where the Christmas tree was already on the curb. If there ever was a day when everything was past tense, it is today. The words were even spoken by me in a conversation with a close girl-friend, out of my control, “….I never dreamed I would be a widow in my retirement…..” only my husband, unlike the shrubbery and the perennials will not be back in the spring. And now, I will be cold every day for the next four months, no less.
With those dark thoughts expressed and out of the way, I do look ahead to what might be ahead. Tresor turned eight in December, and Jelly turns seven in April. I adore my two borzois and their companionship is my utter sanity and only joy. I awaken to their frolicking and joy if I am not up early enough for their taste. I lavish love upon them both. There is no better way to start the day.
But more than anything, 2016 will be remembered for the spectacular success not of Blyss Kennels but of its derivative, where the son of our “Mikhailya”, “Magnus”, was sold, to Belisarius Kennels of Japan, to Mai Ozeki Hirai. Not only did Magnus win magnificently well for the kennel, his offspring were even more spectacular, that being his daughter, “Lucy” and her son, “Vinto”. There is no reason to believe these spectacular accomplishments will not carry over to 2017. In fact, they are expected to. “Lucy” will be at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show again in February, and at the Borzoi National Specialty Show in Maryland in May. Vinto may even make another appearance as well.
I wish all the readers of Blyss Blog Encore a Happy New Year.
As we slowly go into winter, every passing day is a reminder of how quickly it will be upon us, as the days that temperatures hover in the 40s and the 50s on the thermometer become more commonplace. These are days when one must wrap oneself in multiple layers of clothing before leaving the house even to do a brief dog walk. And it is still only autumn! The very chill fills me with disdain for my world. And as it does, I feel the strong arm of depression pulling me down hard and back to where I should never venture alone yet there I am in spite of it.
Almost four weeks ago, Jelly suffered serious juries to her front legs that have been slow to heal, one leg in particular. I have been taking her to our veterinarian twice a week ever since, approximately a 100 mile plus round trip because I trust the veterinarians in that practice. Tomorrow, we go again, and I hope it will be our final appointment. This has taken a lot out of me emotionally. Please let tomorrow be the last day of this.
The bright lights in my world continue to be the joy I derive from reading Facebook. There I can glean the latest news of “Lucy” (Mikhailya’s grand-puppy), and “Lucy’s” son “Vinto”, (a great-grandson of Mikhailya’s). The news is that with Vinto in Japan, and Lucy now being shown in the “sun belt” of the United States, they are both winning regularly Best in Shows! This warms and cheers me almost every day, since the owners and handlers are very generous with their publicity and these beautiful borzoi are always on Facebook. I copy these e-photos and save them in a folder on my hard-drive so I can share them on my Blog and always have them to go back to. The most recent photographs are attached.
In the meantime, I derive joy from the accomplishments of these two beautiful borzoi that are connected to my life. They are truly my accomplishment of the “blyss” I set out to find in 2002 when I said “Yes!” to buying my first borzoi! And yes, I do credit my “Mikhailya”, a rare, beautiful and extraordinary borzoi that I knew should be bred and convinced Karen Staudt-Cartabona to do so to Regal in October 2008, leading to so much success for Karen and me.
Therefore, I will work hard on improving my attitude at being happier and realizing I cannot do anything about any of the problems I think about all the time. After all, its roots run long and deep going all the way back into a violent childhood. Like all victims of abuse, it shadows adult life preventing one from achieving their potential. Comfort is often derived in self destructive habits, or unusual things. An exaggerated love of animals is common, and victims of physical abuse are very common among people committed to living closely with animals. For myself, my true love was lavished on a second great Majenkir bitch we came to own, my beloved Opal. The pain of her loss remains unparalleled in my heart; it cuts me all the way down and makes me lose my will to live. I say her name, and her image appears to me in my mind’s eye; her beauty and sweetness had no equal……Opal……tears……prayers….. And today, I have My Tre.
Baby Opal wins her first show, shown with Bob and me; Bucks County KC 2005
Tresor and Jelly continue to be wonderful life companions for me every day. Tresor, especially, has grown more affectionate and loving toward me since we have been living alone in our home. I think to myself, why do I want to share this beautiful dog with anyone? I have had to share him with other people all of his life, and now it is just him and me. And, with Jelly, whom he also adores. Tresor, “My Tre”, “The Tre”, is blissfully happy here with us, and when I think of my life that way, I can find a crumb of happiness and a mote of optimism for someday, that someday, the pain will go away and something will happen so my life will be better. In fact, perhaps it is better already.
I am thinking of being alone today and wondering why that is so hard for me. I think of that song, “The World I Know” and listen to it on YouTube.
The October chill has returned, and with it rain. The furnace that had been off for so long turned itself back on. Where are you, ———– ? Well, I hope you are happy with the outcome you created. You proved “everybody told me so” was right. I made a mess of things again.
There are qualities that I look for in a man: physically and emotionally/psychologically. Like, it’s hard to put into words, but I call it a spiritual understanding; “a connection”; not always having to say a word but knowing what the other is thinking and/or feeling or would say if they spoke. Or, someone who can really quiet my mind of its racing thoughts; make me feel quieted; relaxed. That would be a really great quality, too. Or best of all, someone who can make me forget what I know is my inexorable destiny that in the end, I am truly alone. I wonder if encountering a special man who can overcome destiny itself and have to create a miracle to reach me will ever happen to me again during the remaining time I have left to my life. I am sure you wonder about that, too. If not, the ending is an ugly picture best left undescribed.
On Monday, I am traveling to Jelly’s breeder’s, N24’s home, in NY State, for a breed club meeting for the NY club. The people that I know from that club will be there and I am looking forward to that. It is also N24’s birthday on Tuesday. I found an especially perfect gift for her over the summer. It is a set of brown pot holders with a beautiful and ornate outline of a borzoi embroidered in gold threads. I will only be there one night. Then, back to home to Blyss Kennels, Mountainside.