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.
As readers of Blyss Blog know, when my late husband and I co-owned Mikhailya with Karen Staudt-Cartabona of Majenkir Borzoi,(N5), she was co-bred to Karen’s stud dog at the time, CD BISS, MBISS, Regal By Design, “Regal”, who had proven himself to be both a great show dog and stud dog. The litter was born on December 8, 2008. It marks one of the happiest moments of my life. Mikailya presented us with three male puppies, all beautiful; but one particularly outstanding that I named “Magnus”! I told Karen in an email later that day, “He is the kind of dog you like to take into the ring! He is destined for greatness.”
Later, after some time, Karen had the opportunity to sell this Boy to Belisarius Kennels in Japan where borzoi are highly valued. Mai Ozeki purchased him in place of her father, who had recently died. It was love at first sight for each of them. Magnus made her very happy. He won many honors, including Best in Shows. Then, his get went on to win, too. One bitch, named Lucy, was co-owned by a family in the USA. They put her out with a handler, and Lucy went on to win enormous success as Blyss Blog Encore has reported generously. Yes, Lucy won Reserved Best in Show at Westminster Kennel Cub in 2016, and three months later, Lucy won the Borzoi Club of America National Specialty Show in Kansas City, KS. She was then taken out with the handler, Valerie Nunes-Atkinson for another year. She won the breed again at Westminster in 2017, but not the Group. She skipped the Borzoi National Specialty in 2017, leaving that venue to her son, Vinto who, sadly, did not place. He is a special now but still very young. He showed himself beautifully well though, and he will be a winner like his mother after taking some time to grow up. Our mentor, Karen Staudt-Cartabona won this show again this year with another bitch she co-owns, this time with Karen and Dr. Howard Spey from the Veterans Classs.
Lucy was being shown out west, but shortly after the National Specialty Show, she was moved toward the south where, of all things, she was being shown with Valerie. There, she won her 20, then 21, then 22nd Best in Shows! These wins were all in a day’s work for Lucy and Valerie, but they made Borzoi breed history. For, by winning BIS 21, she tied a world record of BISs held by a borzoi that was 83 years old, held by Vigow of Romanov, owned by Louis Murr. She then won her 22nd Best in Show this week surpassing his record. Everyone in the breed who is on Facebook is thrilled! She is worthy of all accolades and praises.
Lucy is a beautiful borzoi bitch in every way; I can swear I see Mikhailya in her face! Lucy has brought me, in my tiniest of kennels, a notable accomplishment. I saw and had faith in Mikhailya’s wonderful qualities and wanted her to be bred so they could live on in the borzoi gene pool, and now they can! Having lost my beloved Opal in which I had so much faith and optimism, it was important to me to give Mikhailya that chance.
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:
“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.
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.
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!
This time of year, early November, one cannot look away for long and not see the spectacular beauty of the mountain along which Mountainside is located. And, a large part of the town is stretched out along the bottom, so one cannot help but notice as the town’s people go about to and fro performing their life’s work, they feel surrounded by a wall of forest behind them or that they can look up to, a wall that changes colors with such consistency and accuracy you can base your life on it. Moreover, contemplating the constancy of the mountain, I always recall the following words:
“I lift my eyes up into the hills, for from there comes my help!” Psalms 1:1
We are just now, in early November, somewhat past the peak of fall foliage, however I want to comment how lovely a season it has been and how grateful I have been for that. When driving around along many of the town’s roads or on the highway that cuts across the town at the southern point, US Highway (Rt.) 22, you are driving parallel with the mountain. There are three main roads that take you from Rt. 22 through the town and into the mountain with the preserved forest at the top, “Watchung Reservation”. They are Summit Road, Central Avenue, and New Providence Road, like Rt. 22, ancient roads. These days, Blyss Kennels today is located in the vestiges of an old farming neighborhood on Central Avenue. My house, built in 1920, is a small cottage along side a large field giving the impression that it is my own front yard. It is not, alas. Many photographs of myself with my borzois have been taken in this bucolic setting perpetrating this illusion shamelessly. It is worth mentioning because I have a strong sense of place, and I believe my borzois, those currently living and those deceased, are and always have been happy here.
Moreover, I know it now with certitude, my borzois are happiest with me and me alone. We do not need anyone else. Oh yes, sometimes I may want a dog-sitter or another dog-walker for them from time to time. Otherwise, I am sufficient. And I have come to realize I only want them, with their perfect love; their pure love; them and God. We need no other. Yes, like the wild meadow fields that one comes upon hiking in the Watchung Reservation, the land formerly cultivated for corn and other crops, my field is a spectacular beauty here at home, enjoying it together with them.
“……Even though the moment passed me by I still can’t turn away.” Goo Goo Dolls. Name.
How interesting it is that when contemplating the beauty of nature, even a relatively small mountain in a suburban community, how much one learns about oneself if they take the time to consider it’s presence and beauty.
Coda. I may have the misfortune of outliving my “field” while living here if it is sold to developers. Its owner died two years ago and his heirs want to sell it. I can’t do anything about that and I don’t have the means to purchase it myself.
Tomorrow, Saturday, October 1, 2016, is the date of the Morris & Essex Kennel Club Match Show with ancillary events including Meet the Breeds.
This year it is being held near to the site of its original grounds, The Dog Field in Madison! These were the grounds of the former estate of Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge, 1892 – 1973. She was a great dog fancier in her time and established the Morris and Essex Kennel Club. Some of the grandeur of her day will be revitalized in tomorrow’s events in Madison, NJ, where she resided. My main borzoi breed club, Borzoi Club of Central New Jersey, will be holding a Match and hosting a Meet the Breeds there tomorrow. It should be great fun. Hoping the weather holds out, meaning, hoping it does not rain. Sadly, I will not be bringing any dogs. How I wish I could bring Tresor. He is a wonderful ambassador for his breed, as was his great dam, “Mikhailya”, however he is too dog dominant to be around so many other dogs and would make a grand fool of himself and embarrass both his mistress and co-breeder.
There seems to be no end to the peregrinations of the unquiet mind . I travel so many circuitous roads along my journey believing all the while I have found it this time and only to be disappointed later. How many times can I do this, I ask?
What is the root of this restlessness? Could it be the words that echo throughout my memory, “If you don’t like it you can get out”? or, “It’s my way or hit the highway”. Or just a simple, “I”m going, don’t look back.” Whatever it is, I have embraced husbands, horses, dogs and cats, travel, and expensive real estate to no avail. Now I dream of a fantasy donkey that I cannot even offer a home to. And so, I sit beneath this roof here with at least the borzois, Jelly and Tresor, Angels, who give me love in full measure. I know I am lucky but why do I want to run away? Why is it so hard to just be here, in this time and place, and simply be happy or content? Is so much really wrong?
We just got back last night with the borzois from Cape May, a lovely, charming town with a large section of preserved Victorian houses, many of which are small hotels or bed and breakfast inns. They were decorated for Christmas and we went there specifically to take a Christmas house tour. It was splendid to be there at Christmas for me again after an absence of decades and to show it to LT. There is so much splendid beauty to see within the walls of very old, wooden structures that require much maintenance simply to hold up to the extreme exposure to wind and water over a century and more! They are all labors of love, each one a unique jewel in itself. It is a beautiful thing that there are not only so many of them preserved but so many people who chose to dedicate their lives and spend their financial resources maintaining them in this prime condition. If my own little Mountainside cottage costs me what it does, I can only gasp at the thought of the cost of maintaining such stately mansions as these. This section of town is nothing less than a living museum. I can see it no other way, and I am not alone in my opinion. I am so pleased to see the town bursting with tourists as excited to see it lit up for Christmas as I was! There was also a Christmas Parade that’s starting point was marching down Broadway, the street in West Cape May where our “pet friendly” inn, Highland House was, giving us a perfect viewing station out of our bedroom window! We were told that this year marked its 50th year of high quality fun and class that you just don’t see in New Jersey every day. It was complete with floats, fire trucks lit up like Christmas trees, talented musicians and singers, so much so that we thought we were watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Cape May, a true year round town, is a town all of New Jersey should appreciate with pride. I am always so happy to be there! The borzois and LT enjoyed themselves immensely, too!
But then it is time to return to the inevitable place my home with Blyss Kennels in Mountainside. It is not my farm in Pennsylvania or my own small home by the sea, homes that consume my days fantasizing about. In one, I have a large fenced field for the borzoi, and a barn where I keep one retired horse and a donkey. At my home by the sea, it is totally different. My house is more like my Mountainside cottage, only it is decorated differently. There, I only am there with my borzoi, Tresor and Jelly. I grow flowers in a garden and lead a more relaxed life. I am more content and at peace here. All is well. But, I do not feel this way here in my current home, although I am working on achieving my serenity with the life I have. Too many fantasies about my wandering ways are dangerous.
There seems to be no end to joy as Jelly is my constant companion and loneliness, my most constant challenge, is banished by her mere existence. Boredom, another bane, is kept at bay by our frequent destinations together to the Watchung Reservation. I do not seem to disappoint her as I find interesting trails for us to hike. I manage to find trails that make a round loop so we do not have to turn around and turn back the way we came. I am also good at finding trails that pass fields abundant with wild flowers and being July 1st, these fields are a robust panoply of blossoms. And I know they will remain so through summer and into early fall. Why, you might ask, am I made so happy by such a simple pleasure? The reason is very simple to explain. I worked during many fine summers throughout my adult life, days full of fresh air and sunshine. Instead, they were days spent in long commutes to buildings with windows sealed shut and recirculated air. I prayed at the time I would someday have the chance to enjoy the outdoors someday. Now that I am retired, I do.
Still, my mind is never at rest or peace. Demon daggers still rise up out of the ashes of the past to wound me. Where, I wonder, was my mother when I needed her the most? Why did she say what she said, and do what she did to me? It was so pointless and unnecessary. She recently died. Before she did, she spent several months apologizing for how badly she treated me, and righting many wrongs. But she lingered only a short time. We only had three short months to love one another and be happy together. It’s sad, but as a child I remember hearing her say how much she did not want to “spoil” her children, and she believed, “You should only kiss your children when they sleep.” It is sad to me she lived those beliefs, and now she loves us, my sister and me, but it is she who is asleep forever. -During our three months of reconciliation, one of the saddest parts was that I did not have a borzoi at the time, so she never got to meet any of the Blyss borzoi, or even Jelly, whom I have had since February this year. Some things are just wretched, and this story is one of them. I wish I could think of my mother with more peace, but she is still a subject that recalls too much pain.
Sometimes I wonder how my mother has affected me. I know I am always good to Jelly, but I am not always good to other people, such as my sister or my boyfriend. I can be mean, too. I believe being with Jelly makes me better, makes me a better person, makes we want to give more of myself because I must give so much to her, as if she were a baby. And, Jelly makes me happy and she calms me down when I might otherwise be tense, depressed or lonely. But I know I am a very flawed person who has had many fractured relationships in my life and many have been my fault. I have even lost most of my girl friends in recent years and I don’t even miss them or give a damn about them one bit. If people do not touch upon my lifestyle centered around my borzoi, it is hard for me to care. The only exception is my activities with my Church that means a great deal to me. Perhaps prayer or activities centered on church life, in addition to my happy times with Jelly, are the only safe zones for me going forward. I feel more secure in these arena, happier, less likely to stumble and fall, or crash and burn.
It is critical for one’s equanimity to find emotional safe zones to achieve serenity. Perhaps it is through pet ownership, being in nature, academic or career accomplishments, or achievement of cherished goals. For me, it is to step onto that trail, the special one beneath the sheltering canopy of interlocking leaves, walking in the dimension of ancient places like Watchung Reservation and all the ridges of the Watchung Moutains in North Central New Jersey that rise up from the sea.