Category Archives: Grief

Blyss news, how it is not always good…..but how it is made great again

Eventually, death comes to visit all of our kennels and when it does, it is never fair and we are never ready.  We never believe we had them long enough.  The grief goes deep, a wound that does not heal easily.  I learned of one sad, untimely death, a littermate of Tresor’s,  a name I cannot mention without making my world tremble.   Two weeks later, I learned about the imminent death of one of Jelly’s littermates; that was almost too much for me to absorb.  What if I suddenly lost them, the way I lost Opal?  Could I go on?

The success of Magnus in Japan, Tresor’s littermate, will always be something of which I am proud.  He made N5 and  his new owner in Japan, N38, very happy.  But here in the States, I felt a chill from a wall of silence constructed around him, as if he never existed.  Then, his female get, “Lucy” came over and was co-owned by a couple on the West Coast, and very actively campaigned by an expert handler for two years.  She did magnificently well in 2016 and 2017, as I have frequently written about.  The more and better she did, the less I heard from people, and then she was never mentioned.  When Magnus and Lucy’s name was brought up by me, disparaging remarks were made.  I realized I had no friends in the breed except my mentor, N5, who co-bred Mikhailya with her stud-dog, Regal.

In discussing the passing of Magnus this week, I shared my experience with her.  I hope she can forgive me for replicating this email without asking her permission.  Somehow, I do not think it negatively reflects on her, but is a positive statement about all she has accomplished.

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Gmail Lorene Connolly <lorenecon@gmail.com>

Another sad passing

2 messages

From:  Lorene Connolly <lorenecon@gmail.com> Wed, Sep 13, 2017 at 10:51 AM

To: Karen Staudt-Cartabona <Majenkir@sprynet.com>

Dear Karen,

I don’t know if you know, but I am sure you do, but I received a special message from Mai about a week ago telling me that our Magnus boy, their Max, had died on Aug. 31st. She thanked me profusely for him & told me he was a special borzoi who had done so much for her. He was retired now & living with her mother for some time now, and she has been devastated by his passing. She asked me not to write about it out of respect for her mother so I have not & never will.

It was nice to read her kind words & gratitude. I have sensed for a long time from “friends”(?) A real wall of silence about his & Lucy’s accomplishments. Others have ended their friendships with me.

I know you think I am too sensitive, & perheaps I am for my own good, but certain things you know.   I won’t speak or write of it anymore on FB or my blog, it’s over now. But l still have my Tresor, and now the ill will has been transferred to him. Again by false friends.

In my opinion, we bred an outstanding litter together. Things would have been different for me had Bob not died so young, but he did. Now, I gave an aortic aneurism that I must be brave about.

And that is what I have to live with every day. No more litters, no more puppies, no more show dogs. Just the joy the borzoi I owned or bred or currently own bring me.

Love,

Lorene

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Karen Cartabona <majenkir@sprynet.com> Wed, Sep 13, 2017 at 3:42 PM

To: Lorene Connolly <lorenecon@gmail.com>

Hi Lorene;

Yes, I do know and yes, it is sad. Thank you for writing. It happened just after Wendy’s visit, which may have been just too traumatizing for Max. Sadly he was not that old.

Kyoko sent me a post about it, she said that her heart is broken and I believe it is. She hadn’t told anyone up to that point, so I waited for her to make the announcement to the public.

What has passed, is the truth and cannot be changed. How nice for Bob, that you and he produced the Max and Lucy legacy. Without you both having the litter who knows what could have happened or how different all might have been. There is certainly much to be proud of and nothing to keep you from taking your share of the fame of what Max has done.

Those “friends” that you are writing about are riding on the bloodline themselves, and sadly, do not have any idea how to proceed. As has one kennel after another in the pas who have flown then crashed and burned.

You do not need and are actually better off without those “false friends” who do so much harm in the long run. I have learned to have and have grown a thick skin because of all that is thrown at me. At this point in my life I do not care any longer, the history of Majenkir and it’s influence on Borzoi cannot be changed.

We have to have a meeting in the near future, see you there.

Karen

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Conclusion.  For me, I have to accept that this one person, “Karen” , (N5), Karen Staudt-Cartabona  herself, is the only time I will openly identify an individual in my Blog.  I do so because  in this case she most deserving of accolades.  Karen is my mentor and sold Bob and me, mere newcomers at the time, our foundation bitch, “Mikhailya”, a world-class bitch of a Majenkir and Ksar co-breeding who did so much.  Karen took a chance and trusted us.  Moreover, because Karen is so deserving,  she should be identified buy name so her excellence and diligence and life time commitment to the borzoi breed can be recognize by all to see.  Today I understand, more wisely, that Karen is the only person who has to recognize and respect me in the breed and/or the dog world for me to be happy.     The silence of the other breeders simply doesn’t matter.

 

 

 

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!

 

The Spring Borzoi Shows; Dog Shows, Show Dogs and Borzoi; Blyss Borzoi Reminisces

Like so many Mays before, this is the time for the borzoi  clubs in the area to hold their specialty shows.  This is also the first weekend that there are dog shows held outdoors.  It gives me a good reason to get away from home, even if they are a long distance away and the weather is not predicted to be its best.  Nothing can really take away the excitement of being in Tinicum Park in Erwinna, PA, when it is full of dogs and their exhibitors.  It brings back many memories for me, including one of showing Opal when she was a puppy.  She even won her class!

I used to find out in advance when this show was held years before we had our borzoi and   I even knew Bob by finding the dog show schedules published in Dog World Magazine, (I did not know about the AKC Gazette then).   I would set out by myself when I was in my thirties to attend this show, that being the Bucks County Kennel Club Show.  I also attended the Hunterdon County Kennel Club Show held on the Flemington Fair Grounds off Rt. 31, NJ.   That has long since been sold and paved over and the dog show moved to a sight off Rt. 29 in Ringos nearby.  But the Bucks County Kennel Club Show remains where it has traditionally been held.

I knew that all the doors into the dog show ring were closed to me.  There was no obvious way to me how one got from one side of the ring (outside) to the other side of the ring (inside).    You knew your place by some unwritten text, and you followed it.  Everyone was always very nice and smiled at you as they walked their dogs to and fro but you knew you were always an observer, as if you were at the theater watching a well performed play.  I always bought a catalog, which helped it make more sense to me, being so rich in information as it was.   Still, I was a single, working girl, and had no time or means to buy a show dog, nor would I know what to do with it if I had the wits to even buy one.   Eventually, I began to feel acutely lonely at dog shows and stopped going as often.    I married Bob in 2000 and he had no interest in acquiring a show dog whatsoever.  However, in 2002,  we were offered an opportunity to enter the dog show world with a male borzoi named Casanova.  His breeder, N-23, was looking for a show home for him.  Without even thinking, we said yes.  That was how it happened.

It was then I learned that a person is sponsored or invited to join breed clubs.  It is usually by the breeder of the first show dog you acquire.  That is how we were able to participate in dog shows; it was through the kindness and generosity of “Casanova’s” breeder helping us to become members of the Borzoi Club of Central New Jersey, a membership that I hold to this day, and I consider a great honor.  That is how a person meets breeders with whom to make friends and purchases high quality show dogs to get started.  We did it that way and it brought us great joy.  We achieved many wonderful accomplishments from our endeavors.  It was more challenging and expensive than we thought, and it included a heartbreaking tragedy, but we never would have turned that opportunity down.     My only regret is all the years I lost by not knowing how to break into the dog show world sooner.  I probably would not have had a borzoi, but a terrier breed.  I adored terriers but our opportunity came with a borzoi.  My husband did not care for terriers, so I did not look back.  I became enchanted with borzoi then, as was he, and now I cannot imagine having any other breed of dog.

Mikhailya and Opal Ringside, January 2008

We were a happy family.  The story of our kennel and how it grew is on the Blyss Kennels website (www.blysskennels.us) for all to enjoy.   My only regret is losing Opal from a devastating illness as a youngster.  Also, there were challenges and problems raising Tresor”, our pick puppy from our only home bred litter.  However, his littermate, “Magnus”, made up for that.  He was taken as pick puppy by the co-breeder, N-5, and he turned out to be one of the best international show-dogs and producers in many, many years.   She sold him to Belisarius Kennels in Japan, he went on to sire the magnificent all-time show-bitch, “Lucy” of whom we are all proud.  And our  “Mikhailya” was the bitch who started it all:

Mikhailya Portrait
Maxine Bochnia

 

Lucy: Head Study

“Lucy”,  the grand-daughter of our bitch, “Mikhailha”, and “Tresor’s” niece, went on to become one of the greatest show borzoi ever in history in 2016 – 2017.  She won Best of Breed twice at Westminster; in 2016 she won Reserve Best in Show at Westminster; in 2016  in April she won the Borzoi National Specialty Show; and in 2017 she won the Breed again at Westminster and Group 4 in Hounds; but became the Number 1 Hound in America, a first time achievement for a borzoi.  In a few weeks, she will be entered in the Borzoi Club of America National Specialty Show for the second time.  She won the show last year.  It would be so exciting to see her win again.

Although some things do not always work out as you plan, and that is very difficult to accept, other things happen that are beyond your wildest imaginings.   One may receive the worst of heartaches but the greatest of joys by loving dogs and having a show kennel.

Dogs in Review Cover Photo
Number 1 Photo

However, nothing was worse than losing Bob suddenly in 2011.  It required me to sell our special house that we had that was so perfect for our borzoi, and I had to place Tresor in a loving home.  In 2012, I downsized in a comfotable home nearby with Mikhailya, Casanova and Paris.   Much has been written about this on the Blog and the website.   One by one, my beautiful borzoi succumbed to old age and died.  However, in February 2015, I bought a beautiful retired show bitch, “Jelly”, from a dear friend, the breeder, N-24.

Portrait of Jelly
Maxine Bochnia

Then unexpectedly, five months later, “Tresor” came home to me, after four years of living with another family.  By getting him back, I felt blessed and vindicated for so much that had gone wrong in my life.  Having him back was like being given a great gift.  I was so happy I had a house of my own, with a well fenced back yard to offer him.  I felt I made up to him something I had taken away – my presence and my love.  It was inconceivable to me that I had placed him.  Fate left me with no choice.  I was and still am very grateful to his family that had him for four years and cared for him so well, but even more grateful that he is back home with me and he is mine.

A great deal of what I have written today is looking back.  I don’t know what made me do this today, and perhaps it is not a good idea to do it as much as I do.  I am often told to look ahead.  There are many things I do not like to reminisce about.  However, when I look back on my dogs: their lives, their stories, my life with them, their spirits that feel so alive here with me, I feel as if I am sharing a contemporary story.  For me, it is a story rich in memory and I cannot escape it, for it envelopes me. I miss them all so much, every day.  By reminiscing about them, I feel their spirits close to me, as they were when they were alive!  It is the thing that gives me the strength, that kind of strength I need that is so basic  It is the strength that enables me to get out of my bed in the morning, to put one foot in front of the other, and have enough energy to get me thorough the whole day ahead as I am alone…..except that they – Jelly and Tresor –  and even all the others that went before – are there!

tresor’s Portrait

More Good News and Some Bad at Blyss Kennels

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.

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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.

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There are the darkest nights that envelop me through the longest days to eternity………  and leaving me feeling so defeated I embrace the darkness until it becomes comfort.

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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.”

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Saturday night.  No sound but the inhales and exhales of sleeping hounds.   Tomorrow I must get up.  It is what is expected of me.

Lasts week I lingered long at the ledge…..     An instrument of harm in my hand……   Though the bleeding was only in my mind……   the pain lacerated through.

Here one minute gone the next……   You inhale love exhale hate like yoga……  To the din of racing thoughts…..  Someday you will let me know.

Still down but stirring.  Learning to walk.   Journeys beckon.  I can do better than this……   Be my star that I can follow….. a reason……..  To raise my eyes unto the mountain for my comfort!

More Blyss News: Problems at home, Challenges still; but Lucy’s and Vinto’s stars continue to rise!

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.

 

Lucy: Best in Show,Nov. 20,2016, Tuscon, AZ
Lucy: Best in Show,Nov. 20,2016, Tuscon, AZ
Vinto's Tenth Best in Show, in Japan
Vinto’s Tenth Best in Show, in Japan
Lucy: Head study
Lucy: Head study

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.

Tresor with Jelly on his deck, 2016
Tresor with Jelly on his deck, 2016

 

 

1st_May 2005, Opal wins a Puppy Class, Bucks Co. KC

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.

Home with Tresor & Jelly
Home with Tresor & Jelly

 

Blyss Perceptions of Changes of the Seasons and of Life

Lorene with Paris, Delaware Bay, Goshen NJ
Lorene with Paris, Delaware Bay, Goshen NJ

Summer seemed to last long here at Blyss Kennels in Mountainside, NJ during this otherwise uneventful fall of 2016.  The heat lingered well into October and the need to use the furnace then was only intermittent.  No sooner did I turn it on than the temperature climbed up to 75 degrees in the morning again.  In other times, I would have taken my borzois in the van and gone to Cape May to one of a few inns that allowed us to bring them.

The memories of those happy days and the companions who assisted me there are long past.  Perhaps I could go there with Jelly, but I could never go and leave Tresor behind, and I could never bring them both.  I am friendless these days, so I would have no help with Tresor, alas, I am  stuck home for the gorgeous month of October.  Not only that, the temperature in Cape May is ten full degrees warmer than it is in Northern New Jersey.    The thought of the happy times I have lost is like a twisted dagger in my heart.  The most recent friend, whom once I thought was so true and loving, turned out to be like so many others before, untrue and hateful, so much so, that I asked him to leave.   After he left, I felt as if I jumped off a cliff into an abyss of fear – without a bungee chord.

Portrait of Jelly Maxine Bochnia
Portrait of Jelly
Maxine Bochnia

My poor borzois, who love to be taken to the sea, remain here with me in Mountainside.  I am grateful to the two new dog walkers I have found for Tresor.  Even Jelly has a friend who takes her hiking on the trails in Watchung Reservation!  I do not believe they grieve the loss of their former friend, but surely they must wonder as do I:   why?…….  where?…….when?……

I have sought solace in the peace of prayer.  There is nothing else to do.  I am in God’s hands.  I have done all I could to find happiness in relationships and husbands.  Nonetheless, I always find myself in the role somewhere between a freak and a failure.  But if God made me, I am in His image and therefore must be good. It is not for me to judge only to beg for mercy from the horrible pain of loneliness these separations impart.  But, I tell myself, I have Jelly and Tresor…….  So, I try to tell myself that I am really not so alone after all.

When I walked to church this evening to attend a special program of the Rosary Altar Society, to a church that is so close that I can see it from my living room window,  I was bathed in the light of the full moon.  I felt illuminated by its effervescence.  Perhaps it was the Eye of God. Catholics are taught when they are little children that God’s eye is always watching and protecting them.   For myself, I have survived the chaos of my life.  I have endured and gone on to do the special work God has laid out for me as an adult.  In my case, among other difficult acts of love, it was to take care of his dogs; many dogs; only now, the dogs are and have been His borzois.

Later, walking home from the Church in the moonlight, I saw myself standing on the beach of Delaware Bay with my borzois.  I am taken back in time by several years.  My husband, Bob, took some wonderful photographs there a long time ago!  How I cherish them.  They are framed and proudly displayed in my home as well as on Facebook.  Mikhailya – Casanova – Paris – Ebony!  How empty my life would have been without them!  They were among  – if not – my best friends! Today I have Jelly and Tresor, and I have their own stunning portraits, too.  Gifts from God, I cherish them all.  I know I am blessed.  I can only pay God back through my adoration and prayers, and trying to be worthy of all that is and has been good in my life.

Mikhailya with me at Delalware Bay
Mikhailya with me at Delalware Bay

So together let us welcome this balmy October weather.  As the temperatures rise, let the skies be blue and full of puffy white clouds, the kind where Mary can place her footsteps wandering in heaven.  And as she does, may she impart her blessings and joys on those who look up to her in prayer!

Musings: “The Gathering”, a Collie Event in Wayne NJ; Blyss Kennels has Changes

Lorene with Rosie and Banjo, Leslie Week's collie and Sheltie
Lorene with Rosie and Banjo, Leslie Week’s collie and Sheltie taken several years ago.

Once a year, the third weekend in August, the Collie Health Foundation, of the Collie Club of America, holds The Gathering, a fund-raising event.  It takes place in Wayne, NJ, on the site of the estate of the late Alfred Payson Tehrune, called Tehrune Memorial Park.  He was the author of the Lad stories that appeared in print, serialized in magazines and as novels during the beginning of the twentieth century.  It is a wonderful preservation although sadly, the family home does not survive.   I have been to several and so I see many familiar faces when I go.

This year, the two sisters of my late husband came to New Jersey to attend it from New Hampshire where they live.  One sister brought her new dog, a Shetland Sheepdog named Dasher, with whom she is working in  Agility and Conformation.  He is a lovely youngster.   We all enjoyed our time together at The Gathering, especially enjoying seeing so many collies and collie puppies.  You could feel the congeniality of the attendees toward one another, even those meeting for the first time.  I felt so honored to be there.

It was tempting to purchase and bid on auction items, but truly, at this time of my life, the time of “collecting”, is behind me, so I successfully resisted.   But the products available to purchase and/or bid on were lovely.  When they had to depart at Noon on Sunday, leaving me there on my own alone, I must confess to feeling so lonely and sad.  I left my chair that was set up around the ring outside to sit under the tent thinking perhaps someone would talk to me there.  It was a wise move because a very kind woman looking as equally lonely and dejected as I, began talking to me right away.  I realized about an hour or two later I was feeling very tired.  It began to feel like a crushing fatigue, although I knew I had gotten less sleep than usual for the past two nights.  Why, I asked myself, was I so sad and lonely?

There were the Sunday evening ballroom dancing classes I purchased that I did not want to miss just a few hours away. And then, I thought about the hound, borzoi, or all breed point shows coming up in two weeks.  Would this crushing fatigue last until the dog shows?  It is so important that I get enough sleep, but that does not always happen regardless how disciplined I am or how hard I try.

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I feel deeply troubled  tonight.  Harsh words have been spoken and written to me by a trusted friend .  I will struggle never to refer to them again – they are the rantings of a cad after all –  but they are indelibly stamped on my soul.  I hope it made him feel better for having written them, for having thrown the last daggar.  At least that would have been achieved.  He succeeded in darkening my mind and it will take a huge effort of self discipline not to think about them anymore.

2016_2_Dasher

Lorene with Leslie’s new Sheltie, “Dasher” during The Gathering this August (2016)

Lads_Grave_1

Photograph of the grave of the original “Lad” collie that lived at Sunnybank

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However, this is the wonderful time of year when the late summer dog show season  in New Jersey has arrived.  Therefore, I will let myself feel its joy.  It was one year ago exactly that having received Tresor back only a short time, he finished his Championship Dog Title  and we were all so proud and happy for him.  As always, I will turn to him for joy and comfort.  Having clearly lost the love and respect of my heretofore considered true friend who has abandoned us,  I know I have to be there all the more for Tresor and love him in fuller measure than I have already.  And I know his unconditional and special love is there all the more for me.

Tresor at Blyss
Tresor is home, 2015

 

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Opal

Strange…..   recent readers, or readers who have not read everything on the Blysskennels.us website, may not be familiar with my poem, “Opal’s Prayer”.  I wrote it when she died and became extremely depressed. I would write a new verse every year for a long time.  I would then repeat the verses over and over to myself for comfort when emotional pain or stress overcame me.  I have found myself doing just that again now.  Examples of some of the verses are:

“Dear God, Opal is yours now.  Please take care of her every day.  May we meet again, Dearest Little One!”

or,

“I’ll never forget those days, too brief though they were, When Opal was our dog…..Halcion days…..gone forever.”

as I ask God and Opal for protection from pain.

 

 

 

Losing Blyss Opal Ten Years Ago and Beginning Blyss Blog.

Opal

This is the iconic portrait of Opal by Maxine Bochnia taken at six months old in 2005, famous on the internet and proudly displayed at trade shows wherever she works.

Note:  Although I am writing about a very sad subject in this entry of Blyss Blog Encore, it does not reflect the way I feel in the present.  Upon reminiscing about Opal on the tenth anniversary of Her death, my words in quotation are reproductions of documents that described my feelings at that time.  

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I must look back ten years now to remember the premature death of the borzoi puppy bitch I loved so much, Opal.   I wrote Opal’s obituary shortly after Her death and posted it on BorzoiNews-L.   Opal is not for public consumption therefore I am not posting this anniversary on Facebook or Twitter, but only mentioning the anniversary in my Blog.  For  the writing of that obituary and its publication on the BorzoiNews-List,  and the first entry in my Blog one year later describing my feelings about my grief, catapulted me into creating Blyss Blog and its continuation, Blyss  Blog Encore.  It was very clear that my grief was still raw one year later and would fester for many years.  There may be some readers who remember Opal’s obituary that I posted that day in the listserv.  It follows:

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“‘And a lady always knows when to leave.”

As many of our friends know, our youngest borzoi, “Opal” at Blyss, has been ill for some time. It has been heart wrenching to see her fail to thrive, waste away, and know something was wrong but not know what. To know was worse. She fought hard to live. Sadly, she lost.

Opal will always be remembered for her beauty, sweetness and grace, and that her time with us was much too brief. I believe she had a career as a show dog in her future, although perhaps not equaled to that of her great dam. That stopped being important to us, if only she could be well. Opal was happiest when she could be at home, making everyone feel special with her unique style of affection, tapping you with her paw to get your attention, or leaning into you to be scratched behind the ears, or licking your hands and face. Still, I would be a liar if I denied regretting the loss of so many “what could have beens” for her. Truly, she was robbed. With her passing, we lose much, too: Opal’s infectious joy, the heart of our home.

Opal’s untimely departure makes me recall a wonderful line from one of my favorite movies, Fried Green Tomatoes. Ruth, a much loved main character and a beautiful young woman, dies prematurely. Her friend, Sipsy, comforts their friends with the following words:

‘It’s all right, honey. Let her go. Let her go.  Miss Ruth was a lady.  And a lady always knows when to leave.’

Thank you, Roni and Jennifer Zucker, for sending Opal to Blyss. We shall always be so grateful.

“Opal,” Raynbo Opalesque at Blyss

October 21, 2004 – July 7, 2006

“May we meet again, Dearest Little One.”

Lorene Connolly & Robert Dwyer, Blyss Kennels, Mountainside NJ

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Lorene & Opal, 1 year old.

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One year later, no less consoled, I began the Blyss Blog with these words on July 6, 2007:

“One year has passed since I had to let Opal go. She was my best dog but She soon sickened and died…Today, I don’t understand why or how I am still here….I lost much by losing Opal. Opal meant the world to me… I tried to go to Her many times, many ways, but I failed. I still wish I could die… Nothing I feel makes any difference so there is no point in having  feelings. Wishes will not bring Her back, and my wishes stand for less. I have honored and memorialized Opal with my entire being and honors and memorials can’t bring Her back. I have cried myself sick and my tears don’t bring Her back. I have sickened myself into depression and depression can’t bring Her back. I have starved myself and starvation can’t bring Her back.  And I have grieved until I am out of grief and grief can’t bring Her back. She is gone.”

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Today, nine years after writing those opening words, although I no longer suffer the loss of Opal, I have not forgotten Her.  Instead, I am humbled by the memory that the pain of Her death caused me.  It transcended the emotional, and touched me in all aspects of my life to the point that I became physically and emotionally ill.  I never thought I could be so sick, sick to the point that my life was in danger.  There were other factors involved, true, but nothing has ever caused me so much pain before or since, as holding Her lifeless body in my arms.

It is still as sad today as it was then:  I lost ten years of blissful happiness with Opal when I needed Her so much.  By losing Her life, She lost Her chance to be my dog, when I was Her special human.  Moreover, by losing Her, I knew I would be lonely forever for that special kind of special love for me that only She had.  For that special love, the kind of love that Opal gave to me, was the kind of love that eluded me in all other areas of my life, not only in my three marriages  but going back to the earliest years of my childhood, a time of nightmares, devoid of safety and peace that only nurtured an endless, desperate quest for love as an adult.

When Opal died, Her light died with Her.  I was cast into a suffocating darkness from which I could not escape.  But life is cruel, and it goes on anyway…. Today, ten years later I am here trying to show Her the respect She is due all the while becoming a different person, a recovered person from an emotional blackout that consumed me for many years that followed.  I can recall Her memory now without the horrible pain in my chest that always brought on uncontrollable tears.  Perhaps today, I understand fully that She never really left me, that She was here all the while, always right here by my side.   Today I have the faith and the courage to look down and see Her as She looks up at me.

Paris with baby Opal
Paris with baby Opal

For Opal, I wrote prayers and I wrote poems.  In particular, there is “Opal’s Prayer” and “Hounds of the Steppes”.  They help me to remember she is always alive in my heart.

Closer to full recovery at Blyss; Doing better; Loving Tresor and Jelly

I am further along on my road to recovery after a freak accident walking Tresor caused me to break my shoulder on May 16, 2016.  Most of all, I am finally relieved of the excruciating and relentless pain the injury caused me for a full four weeks.  After that point, I obtained a significant amount of relief and ability regaining motion of my right arm that had been in a nearly frozen position across my chest held up in a most  unnatural way by a sling that day by day was becoming an increasing instrument of torture itself.  Two weeks later, on July 1st, I was told I would be able to drive.  Now my life has returned to normal except for the long hours I must endure of a new torture, physical therapy.  But I will not complain about that.

Moving on, while holed up alone, isolated, in pain, and very depressed, my mind played its usual repertoire of tricks.  First, it told me food did not taste good if I was in pain so I dropped ten pounds that unsettled all of my friends, family and doctors.  I do that, I just do.  I still do not want to eat.  What’s there to eat about? What’s there to eat for?  And extreme physical pain only transferred itself to the already existing emotional pain of being alone (a widow) reminding me of it in a new way.  Still, I hung in there eating as best I could, it only was not enough.

Now that I am feeling better, I am able to appreciate how lucky I am, lucky for my lovely home, my remaining close family members, my close boyfriend, and most of all my two borzoi, Jelly and Tresor.   Those are the things I have to focus on, as the memory of the pain dims into the distant pass more and more every day.  Although it was frightening and horrible, and it isolate me, now that it is over I have regained my equanimity toward life and have achieved a better balance.   Perhaps sometimes it takes a calamity to underscore your gifts for you, perhaps they disappear under the cover of mistakes and tragedies and you think everybody else has it better than you do, but to believe that is wrong.   I am able to raise the blinds in my bedroom every day now free of pain and give thanks for that and so much more.

Regarding the true focus of this blog, which is not me, Jelly and Tresor have been through a lot due to my accident as well.  However, they have ended up in a better place.  Jelly charmed herself into the heart of another dog acquaintance I have had for many years, who has asked to take Jelly with her and her lovely dog when she takes him out hiking in the Watchung Reservation which is almost daily.  Moreover, I found a wonderful man to walk Tresor for me, and that relationship  is working out well for him, and so for me, too.  Tresor is a dog who loves to be walked, and he looks so proud and full of himself as he saunters down the driveway with his dog-walker.  He is such a show-off!  The world is all about him, so he thinks.  He loves his life, and all the people in it.  It is worth everything in the world to me to see him happy this way.  When he comes back, he lavishes me with his affection, never missing an opportunity to rub his head on me, or reach out to me with his paw.  He wants to be close to me wherever I am in the house.  My heart is full of a special love for Tresor.  Every day lived with Tresor is a gift, and there is no pain in the world that could have destroyed that.  We co-exist in a bubble of dog love bliss, I know.  I know it will not endure forever, but while he is here, I will not allow anything to come between us again.  We share a sacred bond.  I never knew a dog could make me so happy as Tresor does.  And Jelly is right there behind him.

 

Recovery Alone at Blyss but with Much Help

It is very difficult to be in so much pain, especially so much so that I cannot drive and am therefore rather isolated.  However, this could be so much worse, because many people – friends – people whom I never would have thought cared – have called, come over to see me, and offered to help.  I have been very moved and touched by this, since I am more prone to the belief that I have no friends, or to focus on the bad outcomes I have had with past friends more than is necessary.  It is especially those in the Plainfield Kennel Club and individuals in the Borzoi Club of Greater New York who actually scheduled a meeting in my house, and the Borzoi Club of Central New Jersey who have shown great kindness.

Also, a long time friend, N33, whom I know from the Mountainside dog parks, has been coming over with her dog to pick up Jelly so she can enjoy her walks with them in Watchung Reservation.  Words can never express my gratitude to this woman for the kindness she has shown to Jelly.

Jelly’s breeder, N24, has great concern for the youngest borzoi in her kennel.  I want very much to go and visit, but neither my sister nor my former boyfriend will take the time to bring me there.  Also, breeders are very closed about problems with their dogs, I have observed, and perhaps she would not want me to make such a visit, or say anything about this to her.  Where I think words of support and sympathy are called for, perhaps she would find them inappropriate.  There is a saying that sums this up.  It is:  What happens in my kennel stays in my kennel.  I am not a very good follower of that adage.  I tend to want to talk about everything to everybody.  I know S24 broke my heart when she did not take me to the Borzoi National Specialty Show in Kansas City, KA in April, I have warmed toward her again and wish to comfort her if I can if her borzoi remains ill.  But I am trapped here and my voice-mail messages have gone unanswered, so in a way I am forced into silence.

I should err on the side of silence more often.  It will not be easy. Well, at least I did not write how broken up I was over the Memorial Day Weekend to spend most of it alone and in great pain.  This was what it was.  Like so many problems I have had in my life, the only solution is the inexorable passage of time and the next visit of my former boyfriend, who suddenly looks like a saint sent to me on a special mission from heaven.