Jelly and I are spending as much time as possible together these days. I know she is critically ill and I want to spend as much time with her as possible. She always welcomes my company. When I am not with her, I am at work at a job I found in Westfield. My job makes me happy in a strange way. But it wasn’t supposed to be this way. How different it will be for me to come home and find Jelly gone. Will I really not get another borzoi? Will I be able to not live without one? Will I try a Silkin Windhund, a very similar dog instead? Will I ever connect to a partner again? These are very scary questions for me to contemplate. Especially if I have to endure them without a borzoi. Will it be worth it to go on by myself? If my heart is ripped out of my breast?
Having lost Tresor so recently, exactly four weeks ago from today, I am trying to orient myself to the human race again, or at least give myself that appearance. I had not even tried before this. I signed up for my eight week yoga class the Mountainside town offers for its residents. It’s a wonderful class, and I need the exercise the movements provide to me. I need all the strengthening of my core I can get. I am a frail and fragile woman but need to regain bone and strength. I am back at Church and participating in Church life.
I don’t know how I am doing so well. I will give some credit to my doctors, the ones I met and had to establish long term relationships with after Opal died in 2006 and I was still suffering deep grief in 2008 and was unable to go on. Drugs with strange names like Pamalor and Seraquel come to mind. There are more, several more. They help me cope with pain; they keep pain at bay; all kinds of pain. That’s been the difference between the two events. I have help this time. I had none in 2007.
Still, I must have learned something about resilience and its value, how important it is to be able to stand on your own two feet, the desirability of being autonomous, no matter what you lose: mothers, husbands, beloved borzoi and other equally loved dogs I am sure such as Yorkies, Malteses, a Cairne and even a Fox Terrier! No, I liked my dog breeds challenging, for sure. I like a dog that shows it thinks! There is so much more of it to love.
But it was the sur-reality of borzoi love that did me in; a dog breed that can mimic human emotions of love yet ready to hunt savagely in a heart-beat! A dog with a beauty so breathtaking you do not believe your own eyes! You become ruined for another breed. If you cannot have another borzoi, why have a dog at all?
He is nowhere to be found except in my visions, and then he is everywhere. His toys and dog beds still litter the floors, his kibble holder remains, as do his leash and collar. When I walk into a room, I expect to see you there, and in a way I do, in a surreal vision of memory that cannot let go. My Tre: if only we could have been together just a bit longer; if you could have made it to ten years. I feel cheated that you left too soon……but whenever it would have been, it never would have been long enough.
Your Beloved littermate, Magnus, left in August, to great shock and grief. I should be grateful for the extra months of time. But now, I am left to grieve in the deepest darkest days of winter, as I go through the motions of being a good dog Mom to Jelly. She has a way of keeping my focus on her, like that is her job now. Her great depth and breadth of beauty, so unlike yours, distracts me. It’s like, why did I never notice it before? It was because yours was like a light that blinds all others, and all I could see was you.
She even tries to mimic your recently found naughty ways. You did not approve of my new part time evening job in a nearby department store. So you started to counter surf and raid the garbage for the very first time in your life. Now, to my shock and horror, Jelly has begun to do it too. Where you ate my bag of Balthazar bakery croissants, she ate my favorite peanut butter cookie from Quick Check and stole one of the daily pill holders from my weekly pill tray. Was this a suicide attempt, I wonder? Like you, she wants me home with her more. I know I am being judged, and I do not get any more of a passing grade from her as I did from you. In the end, I let you down and so you perished. Will Jelly?
Friends are avoiding me, waiting for me to call them first to talk. I guess I am not on peoples’ luncheon lists anymore. I hear there is gossip about when I plan to put away the dog beds (notice the plural), as if there were so many. I want to leave your bed and personal items in place forever. After all, this was your home. I have no friends anymore, I accepted that years ago. That’s why You, my Darling Boy, were so precious. Better than human, you held me in your highest esteem of love and I dwelled in a paradise of that divine gift where no person could hurt me again. I had you then …..My Life Treasure…… My Tresor! Farewell, CD Blyss O’Majenkir Heavenly Treasure!
Portrait by Maxine Bochnia, Fandogs.
Today is January 1, 2018, a new year at Blyss Kennels. I am left here with Jelly. I cannot be happier about that. Jelly is as perfect a borzoi as a borzoi can be. She is calm, relaxed and happy. She gives me no cause for stress or concern, unlike several other borzoi I have owned, including Tresor. But Tresor’s loss only stands to remind me how lonely I truly am. That even the dogs leave. I see myself more realistically now. I am not going to meet someone at the supermarket, church, or online. Perhaps I am not approachable or lovable, or I come across as a person that prefers their own company. Actually, considering those whom I have met, male and female, I actually do prefer my own company. Therefore, I am a solitary human except for the company of my borzois which I actually prefer.
I do, however, enjoy the company of my dog club friends, especially those in the borzoi breed. I enjoy the club work and comradery. With that in mind, I am determined to attend the Borzoi National Specialty Show in May, all the way in Seattle, WA. I plan to be away for the entire week That is something huge for me to look forward to.
To help pay my many expenses, many unforeseen, I have found a part-time job working at a large, local department store in the next town from where I live. It has not been “easy”, and it has taken me a while to learn the job, but I seem to have survived the initial three month training and probation period, and I am on my way to being a permanent employee. Although I thought the money would help, I spent it all in one day at the vet, Tuesday December 12, 2017. That was the fateful day that Tresor was diagnosed with an abdominal hematoma and was euthanized while Jelly was there for a senior check-up. I have large balances on two credit cards and a home equity line of credit. Although their amounts are trivial compared to my overall net worth, I am supposed to be able to live on the interest from my principal, and I would like to see these expenses reduced. However, home ownership in the NY Metropolitan Area, and multiple dog ownership with borzoi covering fifteen years has made for large bills. My income from the interest has been insufficient. It is sad that regarding money, no matter how much I have, it never seems to be enough. My dreams for a Superman to step into my life during the last six years since Bob died have not come to fruition. On the contrary…… The only men I have met have been men who wanted to take and given nothing in return but their rage and emotional abuse. Sadly, I even prefer that to being alone. It is they who walk away, not me.
So, it does not help that Tresor is gone…… I have to be strong……. It is what it is….. There is no one to help me……. I have to do this alone….. Without his extraordinary love and beauty, I will be more alone than ever…….. Sometimes I wonder……why go on?
So it is a good thing that Jelly is here. I put that up on Facebook yesterday. It is just Jelly and me now, and that is a good thing. I am so grateful to her breeder, N24, for letting me have her three years ago. Even though my ex boyfriend, the only one that ever mattered but is gone now, built the dog door for her, I am grateful to them both for making this wonderful gift happen for me. We are together, and it is a success. Jelly and me.
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.
Since returning home from the Borzoi Club of America’s National Specialty Show in Hunt Valley, Maryland one month ago, I have undertaken a vigorous project in which I expended enormous amounts of energy and no small amount of money, to create flower beds for gardens here at my new home, the new Blyss Kennels site. Since moving in five years ago, I left this in the hands of my landscaper but whatever he planted has died. It was mostly flowering bushes. I came to realize my soil needed to be enriched. There are two flower beds in question. One runs along the driveway in the front of the house, and the other runs along the fence line in the back yard. Both are very long, about 65 feet. I found an excellent supplier nearby that sold all kinds of soil products , enrichments, and mulches. They also sold masonry stones in a full range of styles, sizes and shapes. Somehow, my tiny frame, with the help of a new hand truck, managed to remove several forty pound bags of soil and fertilizer products each from the back of my SUV into the back and/or front gardens where they were needed. Also for the new garden in the back yard along the fence line, I wanted a paver block border. I required 70 paver stones. For this job, however, I was assisted by a highly skilled mason who will remain unnamed. There was no question I was in over my head with that one. The gentleman stepped in like Deus ex machina, and voila, it was done. It was my hope and prayer, at least for the back yard garden, that the borzois would respect it and leave the flowers alone. So far they have.
The plantings have consisted of impatiens, dahlias, daisies, lilies, and some lavender. I also have a supply of bulbs to be planted in the fall. I am planning to add calla lilies and irises. I am doing the back breaking work now for the splendid results I hope to see next spring. I may even try my hand at planting the flowering shrubbery my landscaper planted that died, hoping that this time they will live.
All of this was undertaken to take my mind off of my serious case of loneliness and resignation to its fate for my life. I am helpless to change it, and my efforts to do so have been pathetic, degrading, and leave me feeling worse. My own sister is not speaking to me. Having recently been accused of reminding her of an odious dead family member, and of not having “family values”, as if being a widow was my choice, she is off the hook for being expected to invite me to her summer home this year. She believes the “Women’s Movement” has been a failure, and has “hurt women”, and she lets me know it because she knows these are ideas I do not share with her. She accuses me of living in a bubble, but really, my hands are those that touch dirt or remove mats from dogs’ coats, and I never get manicures or face lifts like she does. I am happy being retired – very happy, in fact because I know how to live with less and she cannot, and she cannot abide that, either. I am grateful to my son for being on my side. A total of one! He and I went out for lunch last week in NY City to a French restaurant in the West Village called Buvette, and I loved it. I took an order of Tarte Tatin home for dessert. It was to die for.
So, it is still officially Spring. Today is the last day of Spring. It has been a good season. I went to the Borzoi National Specialty, and my sister-in-law accompanied me. We had a wonderful time there together. Then, I came home and set to work making gardens where there were none, or none that bore fruit. I am disappointed that my landscaper had not advised me better about the condition of my soil, and I am disappointed in myself for taking so long to figure it out. Next year, I will add more. That’s how it’s done. Every year, you add more strength and vigor to the beds, as we do to ourselves and the dogs. Add what is good for us, for the borzois, and the flowers, too.
So many people live alone now, especially if it is not by choice, that this puts many pets and other farm animals at risk of abandonment in the event that something bad happens to their owner such as loss of health or a job. This automatically puts their animals at risk of abandonment. There is currently no shortage of animal rescue and/or sanctuaries organizations throughout the world for animals such as dogs, cats, equines and other barnyard animals that come into peril, not including the well known organizations such as the ASPCA, or Humane Society of the United States and P.E.T.A. I identify many of these lesser known organizations on my Facebook page (see: www.Facebook.com/Lorene.Connolly) some of which I support with regular donations. But my own borzois come first and foremost because they live with me and need me most of all. And so, they are my first priority. It would be the same if I had donkeys. I know I would spend time during my day caring for them and just being there with them; grooming them, talking to them, massaging them telling them how much I love them. They would give me so much comfort in return, I know, in a way that is different than a borzoi, a kind of serenity. I know I would prefer to spend my quality time this way rather than socializing with people. Perhaps that is sad to some, but for me it is not. I have learned about myself that I prefer it that way.
If any reader of my Blog or Facebook page wants more information about the horse, donkey, barnyard sanctuary information, or information about equines for your own interests and the excellent organizations that support them that I have data mined from Facebook and the internet, you are welcome to email me: Lorenecon@gmail.com. This is a serious international movement, with organizations on every continent. There are very professional, committed, devoted and serious people creating a safety network to improve the quality of life for animals that would otherwise suffer a cruel, slow death.
I had a sudden accident walking Tresor. He saw a groundhog and he bolted. I held on for dear life, and fearing loosing him, broke my shoulder in the process. Dragged, and finally forced to let go, I began calling his name in a weak voice hoping for the best. It would be a terrible thing for him to “run away” for many reasons. Using all of my strength, I began walking to the area where he could be, and to the answers of all my prayers, there he was. I was able to retrieve him, and together we walked home.
Life, never easy under normal conditions, has suddenly become more difficult. However, a new group of friends and acquaintances has materialized wishing to help us. But most of all, I have advertised for and found people to assist me with Tresor, in particular, I have found a professional dog walker. She is a woman, N32, who will be Tre’s walker. We took one walk together to see how he would react with her. We walked through a recreational area of town with him, where there were soft-ball games being played. One family had their dog. Tresor clearly saw him. However, he made no reaction whatsoever. N32 felt this was a very positive sign for her, that he clearly looked to her as an alpha figure and allowed her to manage the situation. He clearly would have created an aggressive scene if I were there alone. This was a wonderful breakthrough for him because he enjoys getting out for walks and socializing with people. This is someone who can clearly increase the quality of life for Tresor by doing something for him that I cannot.
I also asked people who are active in town at the Catholic Church if they knew of any families who might have members who would enjoy helping me take care of the borzois while I am incapacitated. Fortunately for me, just such a family was found. They are planning to come over today or tomorrow to meet me and the borzoi.
Then yesterday, a woman whom I have known for many years from the Watchung Reservation and who owns a Dalmation, N 33, came over to visit me and to take Jelly out to the Reservation with her and her dog. I don’t want to neglect her during my recovery when so much attention attention is being showered on Tresor.
So overall, it was an unfortunate accident, but several good outcomes resulted from it. My son is even coming over to visit me from NY City tomorrow!
Tresor, after having been taken to the veterinarian twice now and been prescribed several medications, some for pain management, is doing somewhat better. Good news is that he is not systematically ill, nor does he have any kind of tick-borne disease. Although the cause of the pain in his neck still is elusive, we are all hoping for the best, that is, that he threw it out, and has a pain from it, and the cause is not due to a serious neurologic problem, such as a cervical disc anomaly.
I endeavored to walk him a short distance both yesterday and today, and he did rather well. He wants to get up and go out, he is a borzoi, after all! He is finding it difficult to accept his confinement. I have ordered him a certain kind of a harness that should help him, and us, with his walking. This should alleviate any further pressure on his cervical spine or musculature in that area, and he should be on a positive projectile toward healing. It is sad to hear him cry out in pain, and cry out he does. He lets me know every time he hurts, and expects me to come to him immediately to comfort him. He is still so reminiscent of the little pup I had in the whelping box. He would always look to me for comfort or assurance, as if I could fix anything if it went wrong. Today, he still trusts me that way. I am overcome with the feeling that I must not let him down – ever. How I love him!
Some days you are keenly made aware of what you have and what you have not. For me, each day is a sorry reminder of my most profound loss, a Blyss borzoi. It can be either any of the ones I have had, or a borzoi yet to come. I am consumed with grief and loneliness for those I have lost to death. That emotion was previously saved for Opal but today it is for all of them, collectively.
I look at their portraits on the wall for comfort, and their collars, leashes and show leads on the coat rack for the recollection of happy times spent together on walks or entries in conformation shows. There are other objects, too, that I can never put away or discard. It would be like a form of suicide, as if to deny I had ever lived or felt joy.
The Blyss borzoi were the best of me, and I gave them my best. I could not be more lonely or grief stricken, knowing no person could touch me this way. They only brought me joy and love unconditionally, and they knew they had my heart as none other had it. Today I walk alone, as I will forever, for they are gone.