It is bad enough an 8 1/2 year littermate of Tresor’s, Magnus, died in August. Recently, one of Jelly’s littermates, “Giselle”, died, breaking her owners heart. Because I do the Sunshine role for Borzoi Club of Central New Jersey, I sent her owner, a member, a sympathy card. Although it was several weeks ago, she called me sometime in the last day or two. I just received the voicemail message. Although she is devastated, she expressed her condolences to me for my loss of Tresor. Following is my response. I hope it helps her.
I hope you are doing well. I wanted to acknowledge that I received your voicemail. Thank you for reaching out to me. Like yourself, my heart is broken. Tresor was from the only litter I will ever get to breed. He was a rare, unique dog for me, one I will love forever and always grieve for. Sadly, their time with us is brief so when they go they take our broken hearts with them. Let’s try to find joy in the borzoi they have left behind.
A few weeks ago, I sent a note to a very prominent man in the breed, the former Governor of Region I, Borzoi Club of America, and told him I had lost Tresor. He is now the new President of the Borzoi Club of America. He took the time out to write back to me. The correspondence follows.
Dear R—, I just thought, as a friend, I wanted to let you know I had to let my boy, Tresor, go the other day. He presented with an abdominal hematoma and at nine years of age the vet felt he would not do well with surgical intervention & would not be buying very much time if he survived an operation.
Of course I feel horrible since we only got to breed one litter & he was our only dog from it. Sometimes I wonder how we do what we do when the pain of losing them is so great. But we do it for love….at least I do. Bob & I loved him so much and we never doubted his love for us in return. Tresor was a great dog to own & love.
I’m sorry to hear your sad news. Yes, it is a wonder we do what we do. That’s why we shower them with love while we have them.
Try and enjoy the holidays and cherish the memories.
I had to let Tre go suddenly yesterday during a visit to a veterinarian’s office. It was nine years & three days after he was born there. It was the happiest day of my life when his great dam, “Michailya”, gave us our only Blyss Kennels litter. He was the best thing I had to show for my life, a life characterized by extremely hard work and littered with scores of heartache & tragedies. There was never a finer spirit of a borzoi than my Tresor. I know he wanted to stay longer with me but I could not let him suffer to do it. Farewell, CD Blyss O’Majenkir Heavenly Tresure “Tresor”! Run Free with all the other great borzoi spirits in heaven until we meet again. I know I will find you there!Photo by Maixine Bochnia, Fandogs.
Feeling so much like a stranger in my own mind, not really knowing how to handle the high barres I have set for myself with the inner voice command, “You will do this!” I have been challenged to the point of exhaustion from running away from myself and everything except Jelly and Tresor. I have embraced them closer to my heart than ever, they mean so much more now. When I look around me, I see that Tresor and Jelly are all that remain. And yet, their coming to me was the result of so random and haphazard events that collided for a moment in time with me, for each one separately.
It is autumn again, and in autumn, I seem to have reasons to go to the veterinarian to take care of problems. This time, poor Tre was sprayed by a skunk in the yard, followed by a physical encounter with another creature that bit his leg so badly that it required a veterinary visit. So we have been off to Washington, NJ a few times now, and still have one more trip to make.
Tre is still who he his, full of great male pride and fire! I thought I could walk him myself again, and bought a prong collar. Nothing could have been further from the truth. The prongs did not stop him from dragging me across the street to have a fence fight with the neighbor’s Golden Retriever, a youngster who has a fire in him as well. He had to be dragged off the fence by his owner before I was able to regain control over Tresor again. So, it was back across the street and into the house before I broke another bone.
Sadly, whomever I find to help me with Tresor, with walks, dog sitting and general help whom I can trust, either disappears, moves, gets sick, whatever; they go away. I always take these losses hard, knowing how they impact Tre. None of the losses is worse than the recent loss of LT who made a sweeping exit with a major hissy fit. Aside from destroying me, but what am I, he knows this hurts Tresor the most because he loves him. My Boy. I look at borzoi photos on FB all day, and see pictures of happy borzoi running in big fenced yards, or free in fields or meadows, and my heart breaks for all the shortcomings my life attained. Yes, I fall short. And, there are the other people in my life, they just turn their backs for seemingly no real reason and walk away in rage….. this is a pattern that mystifies me. Then there are the ones that stay…… they contract fatal diseases and die. As I write today, that is happening now with a wonderful man who has been Tresor’s most recent steady friend and a truly good person we know. I am truly devastated about him.
Not to be overly sad and negative, I have tried to find my strength amidst all of these travails. I identified an unusual idea that I thought would be good for me, regarding an employment opportunity, and I followed up on it. It turns out that I now work part time at a local department store. This has really been a huge help for me. It puts something else in the forefront of my thoughts, something that attests to my strength, diverting me from my pain. I am still active in my dog clubs and attend their meetings, programs, and shows, and I still serve on the boards where I have those responsibilities. However, I have a new world that I have entered, one that demands making new social relationships, and addresses my financial shortfalls, since owning two borzois on a retirement income is not easy.
More about this later…… My new pattern of absences from home has been noticed by a certain borzoi…. and he has let his disapproval be known perfectly clearly!
I was in my late fifties when I got to breed my first litter, the litter that produced Magnus and Tresor. It turned out to be notable for its greatness. The quality went deep, so deep that N5 bred and showed Magnus, and then sold him to a high quality kennel in Japan. There he made a huge mark of outstanding quality both as a show dog and a producer. It was Magnus who sired Lucy.
I do not want to make this message about Magnus today, but for private reasons he is particularly on my mind. The spotlight shines brightly on his puppy, Lucy, and deservedly so. Lucy is still being campaigned, and is winning even more Best in Shows. This is after she broke an 83 year record for number of Best in Shows by a borzoi by winning 22 Best in Shows in July, defeating Vigow of Romanoff’s untouchable record, and being the Number One Hound in America. But I am not surprised.
Magnus was my rising star in that litter. I called it when he was born, and I told 5N when I gave him to her. I knew he was destined for greatness as soon as I saw him. I wrote those very words to her that night in an email describing Mikhailya’s puppies. So, tonight I am nostalgic for my puppies, all three Boys, my only litter. I have come full circle, for I know well they are senior dogs now, and slowly each in their own way, slipping not through my fingers but life itself. I may reach out and try to grasp each of them, sometimes one more than another, one I sent away and it came home after four years, one that M5 sold to the kennel in Japan, and another that M5 sold and lost to destiny. Yet, they are all reaching their respective endpoints of life and I want to hold them very close to me while I can.
Behind the scenes, a subject about which I do not write, I support the Borzoi Club of Central New Jersey, my primary, local area breed club. My mentor, N5, has been the president for the past two years, during which the membership has rapidly increased. Many of the new members are borzoi or puppy borzoi buyers of hers. A club has more resources when the number of members grow. Our meetings are still held at the lovely home of N36, rather centrally located, and this too enormously ads to the enjoyment of the meetings. Several weeks ago, the Club held its B Match, and two couples stepped forward and said they were interested in joining. This is truly great news for the club.
Next Saturday, September 9, 2017, is the Specialty Show for the Club. It is held with Somerset Hills Kennel Club’s point show. I know this year, all of the major breeders have puppies to show, as well as their still outstanding veterans. The class dogs are expected to be exciting, too. We are hoping for perfect weather.
I am particularly happy that new people are joining the Club, people who are younger than most of us. We need younger members to keep it running. That seems to be the scenario with many breed clubs. Many members are in their 70s……. then a large number are in their 60s…. and 50s….. Where are the youth, I ask? There are not many. If you took away the young handlers at dog shows, it would look like a geriatric day out in the park.
It was the day of the B Match for Borzoi Club of Central New Jersey, August 6, 2017. I was not showing a borzoi and did not bring any of mine for demonstration. I would have liked to, but it would have meant keeping Tresor home alone for a longer time than I would have wished.
It was so nice being with my Club members, people who truly are friends of mine and with whom I feel collegial. People come and go at shows. Since I had to miss the last Club meeting in June due to a conflict with Plainfield Kennel Club, it had been a long time since I had seen anyone. To my surprise, two separate households had acquired new borzoi. I was and am so happy for them. What joy!
To an almost unusual degree, several people seemed to want to talk to me a lot. I know people missed me from the last meeting I missed, and I tried to catch up with those who were interested in me, and I them. The day was running along in a socially supportive and positive way and I was very pleased.
I had the occasion to speak with a dear couple I know whose borzoi passed away last year under the saddest of circumstances. I tried to be supportive and sympathetic. This story still hurts me to think of, due to its senselessness. Unfortunately, the dog did not have to die but no one really is the culprit. It comes down to how to live with and manage borzois. How does it work best? How to make the borzoi happy? What if you chose to do otherwise and brush aside good, sound advice? Sadly, it will result in a sad or sick borzoi, or a very neurotic borzoi, a borzoi that cannot be a normal borzoi, which is determined by its genes.
My son, Graham, lives in the East Village of NY City. He tells me there are all kinds of dog breeds living in the city, including borzoi. Breeders who, 20 years ago, would never sell a borzoi to someone who lives in an apartment now do so. It can be done, I suppose, but it requires a lot of extra care on the part of the owner socializing and exercising it. In that way, a borzoi is a high maintenance breed. I have a hard time with Tresor and Jelly living in a suburb however I make it work. Fortunately I live near many open fields and a preserved forest park, Watchung Reservation. It has several very large open fields and a network of hiking trails.
Due to my age, I am beyond being able to do much hiking anymore, so I take Jelly to the Scouting Field in Watchung Reservation, where local people drop by in the evening and if their dog is well behaved, they are allowed to run and play off leash. Jelly is allowed to come here and has other relationships with both people and dogs whom she has met there. However, due to his great strength, I can no longer walk Tresor on a leash, so he is confined to the back yard unless one of his dog walkers is available to take him for a leash walk. I wish it were otherwise, but it is what it is for him. I do my best. Life goes on. I find myself saying a lot, “If I were 20 years younger…..”
And no, I don’t think I will be getting a borzoi puppy any time soon.
On Sunday, August 6, 2017, the Borzoi Club of Central New Jersey held its B Match in Colonial Park, in Somerset NJ during the morning, followed by a generous luncheon under the pavilion for all to enjoy.
The Match was somewhat a surprise for me, bringing out some new members for the first time with their borzoi and their family members, and new puppies that had been acquired by members that were totally new to me. It was at the point that I felt I should go over to N5, my mentor, and ask her to select one of her youngsters for me! Surely, I was missing out!
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.
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.
So far, summer has been lovely. Unfortunately for me, I have spent way too much time performing grueling labor. First, I created flower beds, involving bringing in soil and mulch. There were two long flower beds involved, both about sixty-five feet long. I don’t know how my fragile, petite body did it. After that was done, I had to turn my attention to the deck with the peeling paint, that the contractor said was “normal” and “okay”. I did not agree. He did not stand behind his work. Angry words were spoken, and I said, well, I will fix this myself. On the outside, I was strong and tough, but on the inside, I was devastated and depressed. I can’t imagine anyone I know having to do anything even remotely like this daunting a task. It made the garden work look easy. But, my depression only made me tackle it with more ferocity. I was not going to let this mean man get the better of me. Home Depot is my new Bloomingdales. I can go in and not even have to ask where things are anymore. I can take care of myself now. It is my goal to reverse the damage done to my deck by staining it after the wood was clean and sanded.
Aside from that debacle, I see many of my Facebook friends are enjoying beautiful vacations. A very respected pair of twin sisters recently rescued some horses, and used them to go on a horse-b ack riding vacation out west, which is where they live. They took photographs of the beautiful scenery their journey with their horses took them. I cannot even imagine a more enjoyable vacation than spending time on a journey through the American west with a beloved sister and on horseback. It struck me as such a precious gift to give one another, that their closeness allows they share so much the same passions. They are both sight-hound breeders, and AKC judges. I am truly in awe of them and their accomplishments. I was sent several other Facebook vacation photos of friends in other pretty places enjoying themselves, but they all paled in comparison to those of the two sisters riding in the west.
I was thrown a cruel dagger this week from a cruel woman, a woman who just spits out venom without any thought of how she sounds, or the damage she does to the human spirit. It has gotten her in trouble before, and she certainly has gotten herself in trouble with me, and my friendship with Jelly’s breeder, N24. That is unfortunate. The woman spoke for her, alleging I am no longer welcome at N24’s home because she does not like my Tresor, with whom I travel and bring there with me. We never had a problem with him there because she has adequate space to keep him separated from her one male, and he is very well behaved around bitches. This is a very tender place in my heart, or so I found out. I cannot bear to think that people have ill will toward My Boy, who, along with myself, has been through so much. We lost Bob to cancer six years ago. It caused me to have to give him up. then, two years ago, he was suddenly given back. And yes, it is a bit beyond my ability to handle him. I need help. However, my home has a very good set up for him, and unless there is an accident with one of the fences, or a door – more about that follows – Tresor is safe and secure here with me. He is a wonderful borzoi, full of love and happiness for people, and all he asks of life is to be walked a few times a day to be happy, and loved in return.
Since I do my own yard work now, I was outside and forgot for a few minutes that the garage door had been left open when I went into the house for a few minutes. This causes a breach in the security for my borzois. It was pure carelessness on my part that allowed this to happen. The last time I saw them, my borzois were on my bed in the bedroom asleep. I was just finishing a light lunch when a man who lives a block or so from my house rang my front door-bell. When I came to the door, he said my dog had been in his yard, and had killed the animal now at his feet. I looked down through the screen door, and saw a dead, red colored creature. I thought it was one of his cats, so I began to profusely apologize. He said it was not, it was a young fox! I assumed it was Jelly, and we went out together to find her. She was spotted right away in the neighbor’s yard next door, having not gone far, and was just taking a stroll through the yards of the neighboring properties. When we spotted “her”, we all called out to “her” and “‘she” sauntered over. However, to our extreme surprise and shock, it was NOT Jelly at all, it was Tresor! He knew how to sneak out of the house and get off the property, and once out, took himself on a hunting trip. I felt so proud of him, that he showed intelligence by not running away in the street, or going the half-mile south down the road to US Highway 22, or run a half-mile north into the Watching Reservation, and may never have come back. He wanted to get out, and he did it the smartest way possible, on a hunting trip close to home, and he brought me back his prize.
I also saw today on Facebook that Lucy, the great show bitch, who is the grand-daughter of our very own Majenkir bitch, “Mikhailya”, won a Group 1 placement at show in Kansas. She certainly gets around. Again, her handler looks like she is having the time of her life!
The week started badly, with many burning tears cried for the painful words I had to hear spoken about my Boy. The thought that people think ill of him disgusts me. He is a great borzoi and I take wonderful care of him. I care for him and Jelly to such a degree that you can call it devotion, and commitment. They are my lifeline now. I know they are not perfect, they are flawed, and probably nobody would ever want them but me, but they are mine to love absolutely and unconditionally. That is how they love me.