Category Archives: Suburbs

The one Blyss Kennels Bred Litter, December 8, 2008

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.

An upcoming Borzoi Specialty Show 2017

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.

 

 

 

Blyss Reminiscing about other borzois and friends

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.

B Match Show for Borzoi Club of Central New Jersey

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!

Following are some of the photos taken that day!

Jennifer Zucker’s Handling Class; many were first come newcomers.

 

Judge Judith Teicher with her winner.

 

 

Match Participants

 

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!

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

So far, summer has been lovely.  Unfortunately for me, I have spent way too much time  performing grueling labor.  First, I created flower beds, involving bringing in soil and  mulch.  There were two long flower beds involved, both about sixty-five feet long.  I don’t know how my fragile, petite body did it.  After that was done,  I had to turn my attention to the deck with the peeling paint, that the contractor said was “normal” and “okay”.  I did not agree.  He did not stand behind his work.  Angry words were spoken, and I said, well, I will fix this myself.  On the outside, I was strong and tough, but  on the inside, I was devastated and depressed.  I can’t imagine anyone I know having to do anything even remotely like this daunting a task.  It made the garden work look easy.    But, my depression only made me tackle it with more ferocity.  I was not going to let this mean man get the better of me.  Home Depot is my new Bloomingdales.  I can go in and not even have to ask where things are anymore.  I can take care of myself now.  It is my goal to reverse the damage done to my deck by staining it after the wood was clean and sanded.

Aside from that debacle, I see many of my Facebook friends are enjoying beautiful vacations.  A very respected pair of twin sisters recently rescued some horses, and used them to go on a horse-b ack riding vacation out west, which is where they live.  They took photographs of the beautiful scenery their journey with their horses took them.  I cannot even imagine a more enjoyable vacation than spending time on a journey through the American west with a beloved sister and on horseback.   It struck me as such a precious gift to give one another, that their closeness allows they share so much the same passions.  They are both sight-hound breeders, and AKC judges.  I am truly in awe of them and their accomplishments.  I was sent several other Facebook vacation photos of friends in other pretty places enjoying themselves, but they all paled in comparison to those of the two sisters riding in the west.

I was thrown a cruel dagger this week from a cruel woman, a woman who just spits out venom without any thought of how she sounds, or the damage she does to the human spirit.  It has gotten her in trouble before, and she certainly has gotten herself in trouble with me, and my friendship with Jelly’s breeder, N24.   That is unfortunate.  The woman spoke for her, alleging I am no longer welcome at N24’s home because she does not like my Tresor, with whom I travel and bring there with me.  We never had a problem with him there because she has adequate space to keep him separated from her one male, and he is very well behaved around bitches.  This is a very tender place in my heart, or so I found out.  I cannot bear to think that people have ill will toward My Boy, who, along with myself, has been through so much.  We lost Bob to cancer six years ago.  It caused me to have to give him up. then, two years ago, he was suddenly given back.  And yes,  it is a bit beyond my ability to handle him.  I need help.  However, my home has a very good set up for him, and unless there is an accident with one of the fences, or a door – more about that follows – Tresor is safe and secure here with me.  He is a wonderful borzoi, full of love and happiness for people, and all he asks of life is to be walked a few times a day to be happy, and loved in return.

Mature Tresor

Since I do my own yard work  now, I was outside and forgot for a few minutes that the garage door had been left open when I went into the house for a few minutes. This causes a breach in the security for my borzois.  It was pure carelessness on my part that allowed this to happen. The last time I saw them, my  borzois were on my bed in the bedroom asleep.  I was just finishing a light lunch when a man who lives a block or so from my house rang my front door-bell.  When I came to the door, he said my dog had been in his yard, and had killed the animal now at his feet.  I looked down through the screen door, and saw a dead, red colored creature.  I thought it was one of his cats, so I began to profusely apologize.  He said it was not, it was a young fox!  I assumed it was Jelly, and we went out together to find her.  She was spotted right away  in the neighbor’s yard next door, having not gone far, and was just taking a stroll through the yards of the neighboring properties.    When we spotted “her”, we all called out to “her” and “‘she” sauntered over.  However, to our extreme surprise and shock, it was NOT Jelly at all, it was Tresor!  He knew how to sneak out of the house and get off the property, and once out, took himself on a hunting trip.  I felt so proud of him, that he showed intelligence by not running away in the street, or going the half-mile south down the road to US Highway 22, or run a half-mile north into the Watching Reservation, and may never have come back.  He wanted to get out, and he did it the smartest way possible, on a hunting trip close to home, and he brought me back his prize.

I also saw today on Facebook that Lucy, the great show bitch, who is the grand-daughter of our very own Majenkir bitch, “Mikhailya”, won a Group 1 placement at show in Kansas.  She certainly gets around.  Again, her handler looks like she is having the time of her life!

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

The week started badly, with many burning tears cried for the painful words I had to hear spoken about my Boy.  The thought that people think ill of him disgusts me.  He is a great borzoi and I take wonderful care of him.    I care for him and Jelly to such a degree that you can call it  devotion, and commitment.  They are  my lifeline now.  I know they are not perfect, they are flawed, and probably nobody would ever want them but me, but they are mine to love absolutely and unconditionally.    That is how they love me.

 

Blyss Kennels at Fourth of July 2017

Only I could arrive here, safely and alone with Tresor and Jelly besides me in this house, as if navigating our own small ship, on the eve of the Fourth of July. Although in my mind’s eye, I imagine myself with them bobbing on gentle waves riding along the NJ coastal shore in the Atlantic ocean.  I reminisce, it is a delightful time to be in Mountainside.  It creates the most enchanting illusion that it is about one-hundred years earlier, when there were not so many houses built along the side of this mountain, the first ridge of the Watchung Mountain range.  With heavily wooded lots replete with lumbering shade trees, and deer appearing here and there as if they were pets, one can easily drive by a house and not see it.

My walks with Jelly have been telling.  You have to pay attention.  She enjoys walking in the field behind the Catholic Church across the street.  This is the exact site where I had my accident walking Tresor last year after he saw a ground hog.  Jelly does not run around much, but she looks for squirrels and rabbits.  One evening, at a distance away, I saw  pair of frolicking fawns, their tiny bodies still covered with white spots.  The doe appeared a minute or two later.  We both froze and watched them.  When they were out of sight, we continued our walk.  Later, on the Rectory lawn, we saw two large young bucks enjoying the nearby foliage.  Then I saw the special little blinking; fire flys!  I was transported back decades in the split of a second.  It was a beautiful night.  I let Jelly off leash.  She wanted to stalk a rabbit.  She did her thing.  She is no hunter.  The rabbit got away onto a neighbor’s lawn.  She followed it there.  I called her, and she took her very sweet time coming back to me. She was a brat. For that, I put her on the leash!  But overall, Jelly is such a good companion dog.

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Reading Facebook this week, I saw more news of the great show bitch, “Lucy”.  She is the grand-daughter of our Majenkir bitch, “Mikhailya”, who left this world four years ago on June 13th.   “Lucy”  won her twentieth Best in Show, and a wonderful photograph was posted of her.

Lucy & Valerie Nunes-Atkinson #20 BIS

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For my own reasons, valid and not, my heart breaks for being here alone except for my dogs.  I am not that kind of person who is solitary very well.  I long for interaction, dialog, having things to look forward to doing with someone.    I put a lot into my relationships, and they are all gone, many to death.  Many people in my life have died, and I am only in my mid-sixties.  That rather shocks me.

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My beautiful borzois inspire me to be more than I am, for I know they need me and I must be at my best for them.  I run my hand through their beautiful white coats and embrace them to my heart!  Jelly!  Tresor!

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It was almost two years ago today that Tresor was returned to me by his family who owned him for four years.  I do not like to think of those years without him.  But, once he was returned, it was like he never was gone at all.  We picked up our relationship as if we just saw each other the day before.   I consider Tresor a gift and a blessing in my life.

Tresor in his youth

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Finally, it was around the Fourth of July in 2006 that Blyss Kennels endured its first tragedy and loss, the death of Opal at nineteen months of age.  My grief for her was lengthy and profound.  I became shockingly ill, but I could not control how it made me feel.  Today, looking back on it, I don’t know how I survived the experience.  I had to learn how to be well again and find new ways to be happy.  Life had let me down, after all.

Today, I try to remember Opal with joy in my heart.  I had the best borzoi I ever could have had.  She made me extremely happy;  she just could not stay with me very long.  However, I am still very lonely and unhappy without her!  I beg God to please unite us sometime soon.  I want to touch her exquisitely beautiful borzoi face again, and run my fingers through her silky, white coat.  She glowed and sparkled in the sun!  Her body had stunning sighthound curves that made her look so graceful.  I have never seen a creature like her before or since.

Opal wins her first Class!
Bucks County KC Show

I still love her so much.  And when I think of her, I think of the words of that gorgeous Pearl Jam song, “Come Back”

Then, there were my own feeble words, Opal’s Prayer:

Unable to deny His request to take her, Opal lives in heaven now.

How?  Why?  Thy will be done.  Dear God,  Opal is yours now!

Please take care of her every day.

May we meet again, Dearest Little One!

 

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

A Walk near Blyss that brought me joy

With the apparent arrival of spring throughout the town and its magnificent surroundings, that being Mountainside, Summit and the Watchung Reservation in particular, I ventured about outdoors to experience it firsthand while it was still fresh in its glory.  Starting with the Watchung Reservation, it was magnificent to see the leaves out their first day after being buds.  Then, there were the flowering bushes and trees everywhere I drove about: azelia, Bartlett pear, and magnolias.  And then there were the flowers, both wild and cultivated, and I cannot say enough about them.  At a club luncheon with friends on Thursday, a women recommended taking the time to stop and see the field of daffodils at the Reeds Arboretum in Summit, a place I drive by all the time.  I realized  how foolish I was never to stop and sit for a while, so I made it a point to later that very day.  As that silly saying goes, “Take time to stop and smell the roses”.

I had been there before, actually for meetings and programs in the old mansion that has been preserved for such purposes, but never actually to enjoy its many gardens.  I thought that was rather a dumb omission on my part, too, always thinking, I must find the time to drive by this way and drop in for a while……   but never do.  I found my effort to have been well worth it.  Yes, the many thousands of daffodils were still in bloom, and according to the nearby plaque, all 30,000 of them, in a geological bowl shaped formation caused by a glacier.  How beautiful a vista they made!  Seeing all those blossoms in one place reminded me somewhat of the Presby Memorial Iris garden  in Montclair, NJ, not too far away.  My husband, Bob, who grew up in Montclair, used to take me there.  We both had a great love of irises and had them at the first house we shared together, on Oak Tree Road in Mountainside, before we had our borzoi and lived on Summit Lane.   It’s too early to visit there yet, about another four to six weeks for irises.

Perhaps I can retain some of the splendor we achieved in the Oak Tree Road gardens here.  It will be difficult because I am doing it alone.   Yes.  That word again.  Alone.

My landscaper can bring in the mulch and other soil supplies, but for the most part, I will be on my own.  I find when I am in the garden working, still in the weeding phase, the borzoi are nearby.  I know they would rather be out walking somewhere, especially the Watchung Reservation.  Tresor would like to be running loose, looking for another dog to fight, disobeying me by not coming back when called.  Jelly just wants to walk by my side like the Lady she is.  She knows how to present the best possible picture of her canine self.

Everyone Jelly meets  falls in love with her on sight.  I take her on long walks with me and she meets people wherever we go.  She also gets taken to the Scouting Field in Watchung Reservation where she runs and plays off leash with a Dalmation named Lazarus.  He is a constant there and her best friend.  I leave her there with his owner, and she brings her back to me hours later after she and Lazarus have had their long and happy canine play date.

Afterwards, it is the dogs’ dinner time and they eat heartily.  Jelly may not always eat her breakfast, but she always eats her dinner.  The days are moving along more the  way I would like them to of late.  The departure of winter is an enormous help for me.  I am able to do more varied things and enjoy my surroundings and especially the borzois I love so much, my beloved Tresor and Jelly.  Moreover, in addition to the enormous weeding project outdoors, I am tackling the job of interior, or shall I say, mental weeding, trying to get rid of all the bad thoughts and memories of the winter before that disturbed me so much.

I would like to add one more thing before ending, that on Monday this week, April 17, my Jelly was seven years old.  I am so lucky to have her.  She is a comfort to me in this world that I never believed could be possible.  I can never thank her breeder, Frances Wright, for letting Jelly come to live with me two years ago.  I am forever in her debt.