Category Archives: Family Lilfe

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.

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?

Blyss in black; He is gone.

I had to let Tre go suddenly yesterday during a visit to  a veterinarian’s office. It was nine years & three days after he was born there. It was the happiest day of my life when his great dam, “Michailya”, gave us our only Blyss Kennels litter. He was the best thing I had to show for my life, a life characterized by extremely hard work and littered with scores of heartache & tragedies. There was never a finer spirit of a borzoi than my Tresor. I know he wanted to stay longer with me but I could not let him suffer to do it. Farewell, CD Blyss O’Majenkir Heavenly Tresure “Tresor”!   Run Free with all the other great borzoi spirits in heaven until we meet again. I know I will find you there!Photo by Maixine Bochnia, Fandogs.

A Long Blyss Hiatus

Feeling so much like a stranger in my own mind, not really knowing how to handle the high barres I have set for myself with the inner voice command, “You will do this!” I have been challenged to the point of exhaustion from running away from myself and everything except Jelly and Tresor.  I have embraced them closer to my heart than ever, they mean so much more now. When I look around me, I see that Tresor and Jelly are all that remain.  And yet, their coming to me was the result of so random and haphazard events that collided for a moment in time with me, for each one separately.

It is autumn again, and in autumn, I seem to have reasons to go to the veterinarian to take care of problems.  This time, poor Tre was sprayed by a skunk in the yard, followed by a physical encounter with another creature  that bit his leg so badly that it required a veterinary visit.  So we have been off to Washington, NJ a few times now, and still have one more trip to make.

Tre is still who he his, full of great male pride and fire!  I thought I could walk him myself again, and bought a prong collar.  Nothing could have been further from the truth.  The prongs did not stop him from dragging me across the street to have a fence fight with the neighbor’s Golden Retriever, a youngster who has a fire in him as well.  He had to be dragged off the fence by his owner before I was able to regain control over Tresor again.  So, it was back across the street and into the house before I broke another bone.

Sadly, whomever I find to help me with Tresor, with walks, dog sitting and general help whom I can trust, either disappears, moves, gets sick, whatever; they go away.  I always take these losses hard, knowing how they impact Tre.   None of the losses is worse than the recent loss of LT who made a sweeping exit with a major hissy fit.  Aside from destroying me, but what am I, he knows this hurts Tresor the most because he loves him.   My Boy.  I look at borzoi photos on FB all day, and see pictures of happy borzoi running in big fenced yards, or free in fields or meadows, and my heart breaks for all the shortcomings my life attained.  Yes, I fall short.   And, there are the other people in my life, they just turn their backs for seemingly no real reason and walk away in rage….. this is a pattern that mystifies me.   Then there are the ones that stay……  they  contract fatal diseases and die.  As I write today, that is happening now with a wonderful man who has been Tresor’s most recent steady friend and a truly good person we know.  I am truly devastated about him.

Not to be overly sad and negative, I have tried to find my strength amidst all of these travails.  I identified an unusual idea that I thought would be good for me, regarding an employment opportunity, and I followed up on it.  It turns out that I now work part time at a local department store.  This has really been a huge help for me.  It puts something else in the forefront of my thoughts, something that attests to my strength, diverting me from my pain.  I am still active in my dog clubs and attend their meetings, programs, and shows, and I still serve on the boards where I have those responsibilities.  However, I have a new world that I have entered, one that demands making new social relationships, and addresses my financial shortfalls, since owning two borzois on a retirement income is not easy.

More about this later……     My new pattern of absences from home has been noticed by a certain borzoi…. and he has let his disapproval be known perfectly clearly!

Mature Tresor

The September Specialty 2017 Shows

Today,  September 7, 2017,  I enjoyed seeing my borzoi breed friends & mentor at the Central NJ Hound Assn Show in Bridgewater NJ. Much fun getting caught up, & esp enjoyed the borzois of all ages. So many new puppies! And other puppies are becoming so grown up!

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On Saturday, Sept 9, same show grounds, North Branch Park, is the Borzoi Club of Central NJ Specialty show! Planning to enjoy a great Specialty! More members & borzoi than ever.

Best of Breed was awarded to a Boy nearly still a pup, and one that I had the joy of watching grow up, since he is a nephew of my Jelly and I was previous welcome to visit (but no more…..), the stunning young Majenkir line dog, Bibikov You Know My Name, “Hunter”, owned by N24, sired by one of N5’s stunning stud dogs.  I went over to congratulate N24, but when I did, Hunter jumped out of his skin, standing up on two legs and reared, placing his front paws on my shoulders with great enthusiasm – and I let him.  I hugged and kissed him, and told him what a good boy he was and how much I loved him.  He was so happy to see me.  What can I say…..   Animals are so true, so pure……  they either like you or they don’t, they don’t have artifice about it.  I was so happy for him that I stayed to watch him in the Group, but unfortunately, he did not make the cut.  But it was a joy to sit ringside and see him in what will be his first of many Group classes.  Hunter has a great show career ahead of him.  He defeated many specials in the Best of Breed ring that day, and I was overjoyed for him.

My Own Blyss Kennels

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.

Home with Tresor & Jelly

Blyss Accolades Continue with the Great Champion Show Borzoi, Belisarius My Sassy Girl, “Lucy”

The good news of “Lucy” continues to be posted almost daily on Facebook.  Lucy broke the record for the greatest number of BIS wins by a borzoi in  early July (2017), however in subsequent shows she is entered in, she often wins again.  So, I applaud and congratulate her, and her benefactors who make this nearly unprecedented campaign possible.  She is deserving in every way.  A fake or phony flashy dog could never sustain a string of wins so long.  So long a list of judges could never be compiled to agree without consensus that she represents the best of the borzoi standard.  She is the real thing, a dog that does not come along very often, in any breed.  Following are some very recent photos taken this month.

I wish I could have kept her sire and had the resources to campaign him and breed him with Karen, instead of having to give him up as I did, and then she deciding to sell him.  But we cannot second guess destiny.  If I kept him, or if Karen had not sold him, there may never have been a “Lucy” borzoi, but then again, there could have been……

We can only dream, but the outcome of this version is the one we have, and there are enough accolades in it to go around to everybody involved.

Lucy winning BIS at a Hound Show in Houston TX

 

Lucy flies around the ring in Houston TX

 

 

 

Two Blyss Borzois: Adventures of Lucy and Tresor, Doing what They Do Best!

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.

Mature Tresor

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!

Lucy with Valerie Nunes-Atkinson, ..  winning a Group 1

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.

 

Blyss Kennels at Fourth of July 2017

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.

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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.

Lucy & Valerie Nunes-Atkinson #20 BIS

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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.

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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!

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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.

Tresor in his youth

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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.

Opal wins her first Class!
Bucks County KC Show

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!

Please take care of her every day.

May we meet again, Dearest Little One!

 

Home from the Borzoi National Specialty Show in Hunt Valley, MD

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.

Vinto

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.

Magnus with N5 and Lorene, his breeders