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.
The good news of “Lucy” continues to be posted almost daily on Facebook. Lucy broke the record for the greatest number of BIS wins by a borzoi in early July (2017), however in subsequent shows she is entered in, she often wins again. So, I applaud and congratulate her, and her benefactors who make this nearly unprecedented campaign possible. She is deserving in every way. A fake or phony flashy dog could never sustain a string of wins so long. So long a list of judges could never be compiled to agree without consensus that she represents the best of the borzoi standard. She is the real thing, a dog that does not come along very often, in any breed. Following are some very recent photos taken this month.
I wish I could have kept her sire and had the resources to campaign him and breed him with Karen, instead of having to give him up as I did, and then she deciding to sell him. But we cannot second guess destiny. If I kept him, or if Karen had not sold him, there may never have been a “Lucy” borzoi, but then again, there could have been……
We can only dream, but the outcome of this version is the one we have, and there are enough accolades in it to go around to everybody involved.
As readers of Blyss Blog know, when my late husband and I co-owned Mikhailya with Karen Staudt-Cartabona of Majenkir Borzoi,(N5), she was co-bred to Karen’s stud dog at the time, CD BISS, MBISS, Regal By Design, “Regal”, who had proven himself to be both a great show dog and stud dog. The litter was born on December 8, 2008. It marks one of the happiest moments of my life. Mikailya presented us with three male puppies, all beautiful; but one particularly outstanding that I named “Magnus”! I told Karen in an email later that day, “He is the kind of dog you like to take into the ring! He is destined for greatness.”
Later, after some time, Karen had the opportunity to sell this Boy to Belisarius Kennels in Japan where borzoi are highly valued. Mai Ozeki purchased him in place of her father, who had recently died. It was love at first sight for each of them. Magnus made her very happy. He won many honors, including Best in Shows. Then, his get went on to win, too. One bitch, named Lucy, was co-owned by a family in the USA. They put her out with a handler, and Lucy went on to win enormous success as Blyss Blog Encore has reported generously. Yes, Lucy won Reserved Best in Show at Westminster Kennel Cub in 2016, and three months later, Lucy won the Borzoi Club of America National Specialty Show in Kansas City, KS. She was then taken out with the handler, Valerie Nunes-Atkinson for another year. She won the breed again at Westminster in 2017, but not the Group. She skipped the Borzoi National Specialty in 2017, leaving that venue to her son, Vinto who, sadly, did not place. He is a special now but still very young. He showed himself beautifully well though, and he will be a winner like his mother after taking some time to grow up. Our mentor, Karen Staudt-Cartabona won this show again this year with another bitch she co-owns, this time with Karen and Dr. Howard Spey from the Veterans Classs.
Lucy was being shown out west, but shortly after the National Specialty Show, she was moved toward the south where, of all things, she was being shown with Valerie. There, she won her 20, then 21, then 22nd Best in Shows! These wins were all in a day’s work for Lucy and Valerie, but they made Borzoi breed history. For, by winning BIS 21, she tied a world record of BISs held by a borzoi that was 83 years old, held by Vigow of Romanov, owned by Louis Murr. She then won her 22nd Best in Show this week surpassing his record. Everyone in the breed who is on Facebook is thrilled! She is worthy of all accolades and praises.
Lucy is a beautiful borzoi bitch in every way; I can swear I see Mikhailya in her face! Lucy has brought me, in my tiniest of kennels, a notable accomplishment. I saw and had faith in Mikhailya’s wonderful qualities and wanted her to be bred so they could live on in the borzoi gene pool, and now they can! Having lost my beloved Opal in which I had so much faith and optimism, it was important to me to give Mikhailya that chance.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
Last week, from May 13 – 20, 2017, the Borzoi Club of America held its National Specialty Show in Hunt Valley Maryland. I attended with my late husband’s sister, N35, on Friday and Saturday, May 19 – 20, allowing me to see some of the bitches judged, and Best of Breed on Saturday. It was a wonderful experience to be there and my only regret was not being able to be there all week. I simply did not have reliable dog help here at home during those days.
To say it was exciting would be an understatement. One very positive result was that I got to spend a lot of time with May Ozeki Hirai and her husband, of Belisarius Kennels, who were there together showing the great Belisarius “Vinto”, “Mikhailya’s” great-grandson, who won Winner’s Dog at last year’s National. He is a Grand Champion now and was to be shown in Best of Breed.
Since I was not at the National last year in Kansas City, KA, I felt it was very important for me to be there this year. I had a wonderful time, even though Vinto did not make it into the final cut.
The winner was the bitch, Grand Champion, Champion Dog Majenkir Bookstore Glamour Vintage, owned by the two “Karens”, N5 and N36, of the NJ Borzoi Club. It goes without saying they were elated and exuded charm and graciousness to all whom they met. N37 had handled the bitch to perfection; there is a special magic between them, since she had lived with him and he handled her during her younger years, from puppy classes through being a special at five years of age. The win was a beautiful thing to watch. Together, they were very deserving. I am so pleased to have been there.
Saturday night there was a banquet. We had the pleasure of sitting at the same table with them and another couple from the NJ Club. It was wonderful to be in such joyful company and it greatly elevated my mood. I noticed on the table, there was an amazing object for a centerpiece. It is difficult to describe. It appeared to be a combination quilt and wreath, made of cloth, and sewn into a very intricate pattern. At the end, there was a little game given from the podium that determined who at the table would win it. As it turned out, my sister-in-law won it, and she immediately turned it over to me. It made a perfect ending to a perfect National Specialty for me. Of course, an hour later, in bed, when I was trying to go to sleep, I found it impossible to do so because I was so awakened by all of these exciting events. Sadly, I had to resort to a sleeping pill, which is never a good idea for me especially when I have to get up so early and be on the road. My poor sister-in-law needed to go as far away as New Hampshire before she would be home. She had to drive me home since I could not from lack of sleep.
Driving home, I felt so sad my husband had not been there with me to see the great-grand son of his beloved “Mikhailya”, and to have been able to meet Mai and her husband. Mai invited me to see her in Japan, where she assured me explicitly my beloved “Magnus” still lives. I had feared he had died, since I have heard nothing of him for several years. She assured me he was very well, and I should come to visit. This is something that comforted me enormously; it was an answer to prayers that I dared not speak. My Boy, My Magnus lives! He was the most dear and special one of the litter! He proved the depth of quality of his dam, “Mikhailya” in every way. I love him passionately. He has made me so proud because I know Mai loves and appreciates him so much. What can I say…… so much happiness has come from one breeding for so many people….. I thank N5 so much for letting it happen.