Category Archives: Opal

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

An intertwining of how three kennels created a star named Lucy!

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.”

Mikhahilya with her pups!
Specialty Sweeps, Sept. 2009.Karen Staudt-Cartabona & Lorene Connolly
Magnus shown with Karen Staudt-Cartabona and Lorene Connolly

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.

Vinto

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.

A Big BIS for Lucy!

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

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.

Blyss Ruminations; Life is Fragile; Blyss Opal and Blyss Tresor

As the days and weeks have passed caring for Tresor with his neck pain condition, I am brought back in time to when we had Blyss Opal (Raynbo Opalesque at Blyss) in 2006 and learned she had a terminal illness.  Although the two diagnoses are total different, Tresor’s condition reminds me of how fragile life, health and happiness are.  My Tresor does not understand why he has so much pain when he tries to move around, or simply change a position he is lying in.  He does not understand why he cannot go on his walks that he loves so well.  He only knows a great deal of rest and confinement, and that is unnatural for a young, healthy borzoi.

Yet his illness is guilty of bringing me back to a dark place.  It makes me recall what it is like to lose a most beloved pet as Tresor surely is.  I must be strong but I foresee it will be hard to practically impossible to face the end of his life.  Tresor is a very special and dear dog to me, what they call a “Heart Dog”, meaning he holds a special place in my heart.  It is a place only held by Opal, ten years ago.  So, just seeing ahead, this parting will not be easy, however it happens.

I will try to think of happier things to fill my mind, such as his overall good health, as well as that of my own.    Even that has not been easy for me of late.  Suddenly everything appears challenging and difficult for me.  I suppose the reason is because I love something that is so separate from myself, meaning my borzoi, that I cannot control what they do or what will happen to them.  They are at the mercy of destiny,  tossed around like my “Hounds of the steppes…..”  so how can it be otherwise?   They are here one day and gone the next, in a heart beat.  I know this yet still, I am heavily weighed down with much on my mind that I cannot articulate well.  Yet, in the present, I am doing my best to enjoy them every minute they are here.

I will try harder to dwell in the present positive, such as being evoked in the blessing:

In our comings and in our goings, may the light of love shine upon you

Come forth from within you, be gracious unto you, and bring you peace. 

For this is the day you’ve been given. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

And ignore the toxic memories of the past that intrude into my present thoughts, as articulated in the beautiful song, “Name”, by the Goo Goo Dolls:

“Even though the moment passed me by, I still can’t look away

Saw the dreams you never thought you lose tossed along the way;

Scars are souvenirs you never lose, the past is never far.

And I won’t tell no one your name.”

 

The change in the FB photo from Blyss Opal to Blyss Jelly

 

Lorene & Opal, 1 year old.With enormous difficulty, I decided to change my long running FB photo of myself with Opal to one with myself with Jelly.  I said the time was right now, that Jelly deserved that honor, not that Opal mattered less, but that Jelly was the deserving borzoi in my life now.  I want to thank my many FB friends for their kind and wise messages regarding my new cover photo and my relationship with Opal.

Bparty10

I think the past ones enrich us for the ones that come later. We learn so many lessons from them, even if they leave too soon. I don’t appreciate Opal any less, it’s just that I want to cherish Jelly more – she deserves that much from me for all she gives. Some FB Friends took the time to write to me this week and shared their memories of special borzoi who had passed from their lives and how they were coping.  I appreciated their sharing that with me.  Over the years, I have been very open about what happened to me when Opal died.  Her death was a unique experience in my life that I could not accept at the time for other sad reasons.  They caused me not to be able to cope well when she died.  But in life, regardless of the level of its difficulty, we must accept it on its terms, whatever they are.  And life is very hard.  Because life is for the living, one must go on.  There is nothing else to say or do about it.

Today, because I persevered, I went on to breed the litter with our beautiful Majenkir bitch, “Mikhailya” to N-5’s CD Majenkir Regal by Design “Regal”.  That litter gave me my darling “Tresor” and N-5’s CD Majenkir Magnus O’Blyss “Magnus”/”Max”.  “Mikhailya” proved her greatness in the whelping box as well as the conformation ring.  Majenkir borzoi quality went up a rung because of her by number of the Best in Show borzoi and hunt performance titles her get and their descendants produced.

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Blyss Poetry by Langston Hughes – Wisdom In Considering Grief

A Poem by Langston Hughes

Life is for the living

Death is for the dead

Let life be like music

And death a note unsaid.

Sadly, at this time in my life, I know of others who grieve very badly, and one woman with whom I am close in particular.  I have had to endure the deaths of several significant others in my life, including some very close friends, most recently, my mother last November.  Once, I entered into a long and complicated grief over the death of my youngest borzoi, Opal, triggering a long and deep depression for which I had to see medical assistance.  Perhaps those seemingly lucky people who rarely lose a close person are lucky, at least seen from my eyes, but perhaps not.  I am more practiced at it, so when it happens I put well applied defense mechanism into play that help mitigate my suffering.

There will be nothing to stop the pain in the beginning or stop the seemingly endless flow of tears so let it be.  In time though bring it to a close before you are damaged by too much sadness.  I know it is an addiction, no safer than heroin, to which you make a strange bedfellow, that is very hard to break up with.  Let it go in time and not too long at that.

Following are some suggestions:

Reach out to joy, or something or someone that gives you joy.

Pray or meditate

Visit the ill or shut in, or residents of assisted living facilities

Join clubs, churches, groups that do activities

Look for a substitute in your life to replace the one you have lost.

There can be no more “birthdays” or “anniversaries” with someone who is gone.

Stop thinking in terms of “anniversaries” and “birthdays”.

Find another companion with whom to celebrate new milestones.

I believe every day spent in grief after a short while, such as 3 – 6 months, is a loss to the living person.

Nothing is gained by excess or complicated grief.

Seek medical care for complicated grief because it underlies depression.

Blyss Kennel’s lost borzoi, Tresor

It has been nearly two months that Tresor was returned to us from his former home in W——-.  Surprisingly, he was returned to us by owners whom we believed would give him his forever home.  Although I will never really know the reasons why, I have some speculations.  Still, I can only wonder what Tresor really thinks and feels about all of this.  Overall, he acts like a happy borzoi in every way.  He loves to do all the things dogs love to do, such as eating, going out for walks, meeting new friends, and so forth.  However, there is one thing that makes him different.  He is the lost champion of the one Blyss Kennels litter, “Mikhailya’s” son, who was given to my husband and me to keep by N5, and only three points away from his title when my husband died suddenly and I needed to place him.

He was returned to us in amazingly good condition for a dog who lived as a pet, even intact, so we will be trying once again to earn those elusive three points.  Better still, I live in a house and have a partner all suited to having him here, to live out his days in happiness.   Our dear friend and mentor, N6, will handle him in the ring.  Although Tresor is not returning to the original beautiful “Blyss House” of his puppy days, I have a beautiful home to offer him nonetheless.  These are all great benefits to bestow on this vagabond borzoi.

Still, I long for the days of walking in the door and seeing three, four, or five angelic borzoi heads looking up at me in those special, loving expressions that only they can express.  I was surrounded by them, and I spoke lovingly to each one in their own special words that only they understood.  Here, I have two now, and I know I should be grateful for that.  Six months ago, I had none.    But I have been through much and lost more.  I no longer feel human but more ethereal myself, half ghost, half human.  I wonder and dare to hope that my two Perfections will humanize me again and make me believe everything is alright in my world.  I have more days of joy, but in an instant’s mishap, I am plunged again downward, all the way so much so that I no longer recognize myself.  It can be a harsh word from someone dear, or getting lost and missing a meeting, or news about my brother, or in the past, something my mother did that caused me pain.  My borzoi and my kennel that supported them closed out the worlds where I no longer dwelled or fit in.

When one by one I realized my friends were not my friends, I gave them up without remorse.  After all, I had my borzoi to love.  When I believed with finality my mother’s hatred of me was absolute, again, I had my borzoi to love me.  When my marriage disappointed me, I had Opal until……  well, that did not work out quite as planned.  But in time, even I healed and the marriage endured, only to be robbed of my husband a few years later when he was stricken with a lethal cancer. But I know I loved my husband by the end of his life for all he gave to me and for his courage and strength.  And miraculously, I even earned my bitter mother’s all-too-late love before she died, as she wondered out loud how wrong she was for treating my sister and me so badly, but she did not know what she was doing.

My life has been a canvas of swirling designs of varying colors, each color being another person.  None of my relationships has been “straight”, or going in a straightforward direction.  Many of the colors or patterns come abruptly to an end. They were always circuitous, or in wavy designs, going here and there, all over the place.  There were no patterns of simplicity.  To look at it was dizzying, was nauseating.  And so, I decided after my mother’s death last year to find another borzoi.  It was my darling “Jelly” from N26, and she has come here to live at Blyss.  Then, in early July Tresor came home to me bringing me endless joy.

I can still go down and break but there is so much more to get up again for, to do.  Not to get up again is not an option for me anymore.  I have two borzoi now that need to be fed, walked, brushed, and all that.  They are what matters most.  Then comes everything else.  No one is complaining.   I am not letting anyone down.  I am mine and my borzoi.  With the return of Tresor, that is the whole of it.

Tresor Comes to Blyss on July 3, 2015, Nine years after Opal Departs

Opal

As I look back and think of the day, July 3, 2015, it was a surprise when it happened but it was a natural event, meant to be.  He has adjusted seamlessly; all is well.  He is the boy who came home to stay.  Yet, it occurred to me today, I missed again thinking about Opal on the anniversary of her death on July 6th.  He has always been the gift I received to replace that loss, and so again he is, to stand in her place, almost nine years to the day.

I can still shed tears of loss for her life that was cut so short, so perversely unfair, so cruelly that she lost everything and I lost so much.  I try to think about it differently though, of how much I had by having her, for those nineteen months.  They seared a separate heart in my breast that is all hers, My Opal.  She is a parallel world where I live.  But it is a life of love that gives me love, that allows me to love and give love to others, especially other borzoi.

I’ve been touched by her in a way that I shall always be separate from others by having had her.  She made me special and unique.  I understand life as I never would have before.  She was precious and rare and she was mine but mine to lose yet in memory have forever.

“May we meet again, Dearest Little One!”

The Line that Connects Blyss Opal and Blyss Jelly, Nearly A Decade

During my ever wandering mind, I’ve been doing much gardening these days.  However, I do have a landscaper who just put down my mulch and planted a nice line of rhododendron and hydrangeas for me along the driveway. They have pink blossoms and look gorgeous, the kind of blossoms you wish would last all summer. It seems he planted them before we started to get a lot of rain so I am grateful for it. I do have to follow up with watering though if the rain stops.  I also planted in the front of my house beneath a bay window a rounded curve of impatiens and they look very lovely. That was my contribution to the project.

When I look out my window and see them, they remind me of the landscaping I had at the original Blyss house where there were many of those kinds of plantings.  I miss them, as I do the stately, ponderous pines.  There is much that I miss here, but I do have little bits of it scattered around here and there to remind me.

They are also there in great abundance in the Watchung Reservation.  I took Jelly for a rather long walk there yesterday, just her and me.  It was toward the western section of the forest, into what was known as “The Pine Forest”.  Unfortunately, what was a pine forest in my childhood of many decades ago is now gone, and I could scarcely find the abundance of pines that once comprised it.  The trail through it abruptly ends at a small stream that is easy to hop across.  It is not Blue Brook.  That lies ahead.  We, both hound and myself, were very excited with palpitating hearts.

Unlike many of my friends, I do not play golf or tennis but surely wish that I did. They must be very nice sports to know to know how to play for social reasons.  They are much better passions or interests than dogs.  Dogs are more arcane. I know I envy people who are more mainstream, the country-cub or marina type, but mainstream never happened in my life. However, I am accomplished in other ways.  I am just not very athletic except for gardening, swimming and ballroom dancing. I do yoga out of necessity, not love.  My greatest thrills come from being with my friends who have dogs and horses, being in their company, listening to them talk, and engaging them in conversation.  From that springs many dreams of hope: hopes for things that lie ahead – dreams for the future – the borzoi who will be the new hounds of Blyss Kennels – ten years from now!

In May, I spent a week in Huron, Ohio at the Borzoi Club of America’s Borzoi National Specialty show.  I felt as if I were in another world, and I truly was. I sat ringside over the course of the week. During that time, I saw two bitches who were grand-daughters to my lovely “Mikhailya”. I was sad by the first one, she looked nothing like her, there was nothing of her there. A few days later, on the final day, Saturday, there was a gorgeous bitch in the ring that was another grand-daughter, and she was like a clone of Mikhailya, so there it was! The genes came down and expressed themselves. She even had Mikhailha’s mannerisms in the ring, and they were more “faults” than “qualities”! I felt like taking her in again and correcting her for being so naughty for her owner.  Being back home, I wish I could have a second one, a male, but truly I know I cannot. My one female Jelly is best for me, and I am wise to keep that foremost in my mind.

I see my life defined by the passing through addresses along a circuitous path and their respective husbands nonetheless I have ended up here alone at the final destination. Yet I am not truly, completely alone or a failure because of my beautiful borzoi. They saved me once, especially ten years ago through the infinitely beautiful gift of Opal’s love, and today that of Jelly’s. Although I shall never quite feel it is okay that Opal died, how and when she died or ever, I feel all is well with me today, even if things are not. But for others, for those who may read, I encourage the achievement of greater accomplishments and higher goals in order to be better buffered by the vagaries of life’s unforeseen disappointments.  For I recognize my upbringing was deeply flawed, and I arrived at my adulthood unprepared for what would lie ahead.