Monthly Archives: August 2016

More Blyss News and Accolades for “Lucy” and “Vinto”, the Japanese bred borzoi decended from our Blyss “Mikhailya”

"Vinto" wins Best Foreign in Event!
“Vinto” wins Best Foreign in Event!

This past weekend, from August 25 – 28, 2016, both “Lucy” and her son, “Vinto” were shown in the renown Santa Barbra dog show cluster.  Photos follow, as do their owner’s, Mai Ozeki Hirai’s, words describing these spectacular events:

"Lucy" wins Best in Show!
“Lucy” wins Best in Show!


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Mai Ozeki Hirai

The four-day Santa Barbara weekend ended today with the Borzoi GCh. Belisarius JP My Sassy Girl, informally known as Lucy, winning Best in Show at Los Encinos Kennel Club under Australian Sighthound specialist (and Greyhound breeder) John Palmer. 

In addition, Lucy took BIS at Santa Barbara KC on Saturday under judge Ann Ingram of Ireland. Most importantly — from our perspective, at least — Lucy also won the “Sighthound Spectacular,” an unofficial competition that’s unique for SBKC (Santa Barbara Kennel Club) and limited to the day’s winners in the various Sighthound breeds. A total of 24 Sighthounds that had won BOB, BOW and BOS (and Selects in specialty-club supported entries) competed for trophies — including one from Sighthound Review — and prize money ranging from $1,000 to the winner to $500, $250 and $125 for second, third and fourth, and $100 each to four Awards of Merit. The judge was Sighthound authority Eugene Blake. 

The Borzoi was bred in Japan by Kyoko Ozeki (who was at ringside with her daughter Mai to watch Lucy win) and owned in the U.S. by Michele Molnar, Jamie Danburg and Minoru Kato. Valerie Atkinson  (Please note – the sire of this bitch, “Lucy” –  was none other than Blyss of Majenkir Magnus, “Magnus”, the puppy of Blyss Kennels’ “Mikhailya”, co-owned with Karen Staudt-Cartabona! L.C.)

Lucy didn’t have it all her own way. The Saluki GCh. Starlite’s Made of the Best Stuff On Earth, JC, RN (“Snapple”) won the Hound Group at both Simi Valley KC on Friday and Santa Barbara KC on Sunday. Snapple is co-owned by breeders Tina Turley-Kocab and Mark Kocab with Sandra Middleburg and handled by Erin Roberts. Both Snapple and Lucy, incidentally, have graced the Sighthound Review covers: Snapple in the Fall of 2015 and Lucy the Summer 2016 issue.

A full report from the Spectacular will be published in the Fall 2016 issue of Sighthound Review. We are also working on an in-depth interview with Gene Blake that promises to be really interesting. 

Below is a head study of Lucy, and one of her with Shota having a private moment before BIS judging today.

"Lucy" Head Study
“Lucy” Head Study


A private moment for Lucy with Shota Hirai


 There is really nothing more I can add to these outstanding accomplishments, other than to express my gratitude and appreciation to Mai Ozeki Hirai and her family for the wonderful care they provided to “Magnus” after they acquired him.  They had both the means and the desire to develop “Magnus”,  my “Mikhailya” puppy, after they acquired him from Karen Staudt-Cartabona, Majenkir Borzoi,  And to Karen, too, I express my full and heartfelt appreciation for her role in “Magnus’s” development after I turned him over to her.  I remember seeing his greatness at birth and remember telling her of it in an email almost immediately!  I wrote, “….he is the kind of borzoi male you like to bring in the ring…… he looks like “Michael” (Mikhailya’s sire whom she greatly favored in his day.)!  She obviously concurred, and certainly saw it herself when she acquired him several months later.  I have always said that having “Mikhailya’s” litter was among the happiest times of our lives.  I cherish those memories as if they were heaven. It was a time of enormous bliss for Bob and me.  And to see “Mikailya’s” get do so well today overwhelms me with pride and joy.


Blyss Wanderings on Old Trails and Wildflower Meadows; More Musings on Blyss Kennels Successes

Yesterday was Sunday and although I had some pleasant events planned I had a block of time in the afternoon free.  I thought of doing something I had not done in about two years, that was walking in the area of the Deserted Village in Watchung Reservation.  I know that if you park in the designated parking lot there, you can easily walk down the road to the village itself, or take trails off the side of the road that remain rather flat so no hiking is involved.  I no longer have good hiking shoes and after breaking my shoulder in May, I am not very enthusiastic about taking it up again so soon.  One unfortunate reason for this is that the trails are in rather poor condition that are in the steep areas because the severe, heavy rains our area has been experiencing for the last year or two has done much to ruin the trails.  All that is left of them is the rocky base, since all the top soil has been washed away.  While walking on a flat trail west of the Deserted Village I knew I would come upon one of its old corn fields, a field used to grow the crops when it was Feltsville, a self-sustaining, utopian community during the nineteenth century.  Many of these agricultural fields have been preserved by the County that now manages Watchung Reservation and they are maintained as wildflower meadows.   This one, west of Feltsville, or The Deserted Village, as it is known today, is more remote and cannot be seen from the nearby road, Glenside Avenue.  I wanted to remain hidden because I had a surreptitious agenda: I wanted to cut some of the wildflowers to display in my home!  Although I have never read one, I am sure there is  a law against cutting the wildflowers.  However, there are so many of them, and so many of them hidden from sight, that if I could only cut some of those most invisible, surely no one would hold it against me.

The field was where I expected it to be.  Funny, but I could swear it had a remnant of a “trail” going through it, and so I walked on it, which was very useful.  I was surrounded by dense thistle as high as my head! And thistles with multiple blossoms in full bloom.  I knew I was swallowed up by the plantings in the field.  I seemed to have picked the peak day for making cuttings of thistle.  Suddenly, before my eyes, so close I could have touched it but I froze in place not to bother it, a Monarch butterfly landed right before me on the closest thistle blossom to where I stood.  I just did not feel I could get my cell phone out for a photo in time, and I did not want to disturb it from its meal!  So, I simply enjoyed the cosmic moment, a moment I know I will never forget.

The next wild flower I saw that under other conditions I might have sneered at as a weed but it looked splendid in this setting, was goldenrod.  They, too, were very tall, taller than I had ever seen them, and their bright yellow flowers looked like the heads of roosters!  I frantically began cutting those as well.  Soon, my arms were full of these cuttings that were not very comfortable because they were well protected by their evolution to have the tiniest thorns on them making anyone who made a cutting regret having done so.  But I was not to be deterred.

I realized although it was a  Sunday afternoon in August, the New Jersey weather had remained uncharacteristically hot.  It was about 3:30 PM, and the temperature was 87 degrees.  I had been out for half an hour and I felt I had enough.  I began the return trip to the car.  I was very glad no one threatened to arrest me with my cuttings.  That would have been very difficult to explain…..

Upon arriving home, I prepared my cuttings for a large, ample vase.  I had long cuttings.  I cut away the abundance of leaves on the lower parts of the stems.  When I put it in a vase, and stepped back to examine my work, I was truly stunned how pretty my display looked.  I surprised myself, I truly did.  I really did not cut very many plantings, but I had cut enough!  I captured it!


When I parked my car in the parking lot for the Deserted Village and stepped onto the trail that would take me westward into the woods a flood of memories swept over me.  I tried to push them back because I really did not want them to overwhelm me. Then somehow, it did not seem possible that my  husband Bob was really dead for five years, and that “Mikhailya” was no longer alive.

Can it really be that they are  not here to see the wonderful accomplishments of “Lucy”,  under the affix of Belisarius,”Mikhailya’s” grand-daughter – winning Reserve Best in Show at Westminster Kennel Club in NY City in February 2016, then the Borzoi National Specialty Show in Kansas City, KA, in April 2016, along with her son “Vinto”, who won Winner’s Dog?  And then, this past weekend, August 28, 2016, “Lucy” won Best in Show at the Santa Barbara Kennel Club Dog Show in California, along with other major wins with her son, “Vinto”?  These are extraordinary accomplishments for Blyss Kennels, a new kennel and one short lived, even given that we had an extraordinary foundation bitch co-owned with the greatest borzoi breeder in the world, Karen Staudt-Cartabona of Majenkir Borzoi.  And, it is a grand accomplishment for Karen as well.  She had the perfect stud-dog for “Mikhailya”, CD Majenkir Regal by Design, “Regal”.

I don’t know what happens when we die.  Nobody does.  But I know it is a bitter loss that Bob, who died in 2011, is not hear to share in this joy with me, and that “Mikhailya” died so suddenly in 2013.  I know I must accept life on its terms whatever they are and give it up to God.  It is what it is.  I have to let it go forever and wait until the time comes when I die and perhaps then all of these mysterious questions will be answered.   It is not meant to be that I can have all of these answers now but I have faith that someday I shall.  In the meantime, I live in the sunshine of joy that the success of “Lucy” and “Vinto” impart with their successes.


Blyss Successes in Santa Barbara, CA Dog Show Cluster!



Santa Barbara Kennel Club Dog Show Wins for “Lucy” and her son, “Vinto”, Sunday, August 27, 2016


This weekend, Mai Ozeki Hirah came to the West Coast to see her superstar borzois, “Lucy”, under the affix of Belisarius, and her son, “Vinto”, compete in the prestigious Santa Barbara Kennel Club dog show.  I am thrilled to report they achieved major wins in this show, a Specialty, that had many extra classes for borzois.  I may as well quote Mai directly:

“An impossible day people can dream of. Lucy Best in Show at Santa Barbara Kennel Club under Ms. Ann Ingram from Ireland, then she won the Sighthound Spectacular under Mr. Eugene Blake and her son, Vinto was BIS3 too. And THEN Lucy and Vinto won Reserve BIS under Mr. Andrew Brace and Ms. Ingram (Group judged by Mr. David Frei) at Breeder’s Showcase!!!! What a mother and a son!! Thank you for judges and all who cheered on them and for SBKC for working so hard to hold such an amazing show!!”


It is so wonderful to see their success repeat itself, over and over again!  It is exhilarating for these two borzois as well as the breed, which up until now has rarely been a “Best in Show” breed.   For new readers to the Blyss Blog Encore, or those who do not know anything about  Blyss Kennels, “Lucy” is the grand-puppy of our foundation bitch that we purchased and co-owned with the founder of the great Majenkir Borzoi kennel, Karen Staudt-Cartabona, our mentor.  My late husband, Robert Dwyer, and I owe Karen everything, and it is to her that we credit this opportunity to share in this joy.  It was Karen herself who allowed “Mikhailya” to be bred to her grand stud dog in 2008, CD Majenkir Regal by Design, “Regal”, thereby siring “Magnus”,  the sire of “Lucy”.

With the sudden and unexpected death of my husband in 2011, I retired from breeding and showing.  I never expected any notable accomplishment in the breed for myself other than finishing “Tresor’s” Champion Dog title, and the joy I derived from my borzoi.  Then “Magnus”, “Mikhailya’s” other puppy, also became a great producer as well as a Best in Show borzoi in Japan.  Blyss Kennels is  also acknowledged because I owned his dam, even though it was a co-ownership.  I am honored to have been able to work with Karen on producing this line, and have been guided by her advice in my kennel in all ways.  In this case, it became a spectacular accomplishment.  As Karen has recently said, we all have to work together to breed great borzoi.  No one can do it by themselves.

The photos above are from this weekend at the Santa Barbara Kennel Club Show.  The photos below are from “Lucy” winning Reserve Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in Madison Square Garden, NY NY on February 16, 2016.


Musings: “The Gathering”, a Collie Event in Wayne NJ; Blyss Kennels has Changes

Lorene with Rosie and Banjo, Leslie Week's collie and Sheltie
Lorene with Rosie and Banjo, Leslie Week’s collie and Sheltie taken several years ago.

Once a year, the third weekend in August, the Collie Health Foundation, of the Collie Club of America, holds The Gathering, a fund-raising event.  It takes place in Wayne, NJ, on the site of the estate of the late Alfred Payson Tehrune, called Tehrune Memorial Park.  He was the author of the Lad stories that appeared in print, serialized in magazines and as novels during the beginning of the twentieth century.  It is a wonderful preservation although sadly, the family home does not survive.   I have been to several and so I see many familiar faces when I go.

This year, the two sisters of my late husband came to New Jersey to attend it from New Hampshire where they live.  One sister brought her new dog, a Shetland Sheepdog named Dasher, with whom she is working in  Agility and Conformation.  He is a lovely youngster.   We all enjoyed our time together at The Gathering, especially enjoying seeing so many collies and collie puppies.  You could feel the congeniality of the attendees toward one another, even those meeting for the first time.  I felt so honored to be there.

It was tempting to purchase and bid on auction items, but truly, at this time of my life, the time of “collecting”, is behind me, so I successfully resisted.   But the products available to purchase and/or bid on were lovely.  When they had to depart at Noon on Sunday, leaving me there on my own alone, I must confess to feeling so lonely and sad.  I left my chair that was set up around the ring outside to sit under the tent thinking perhaps someone would talk to me there.  It was a wise move because a very kind woman looking as equally lonely and dejected as I, began talking to me right away.  I realized about an hour or two later I was feeling very tired.  It began to feel like a crushing fatigue, although I knew I had gotten less sleep than usual for the past two nights.  Why, I asked myself, was I so sad and lonely?

There were the Sunday evening ballroom dancing classes I purchased that I did not want to miss just a few hours away. And then, I thought about the hound, borzoi, or all breed point shows coming up in two weeks.  Would this crushing fatigue last until the dog shows?  It is so important that I get enough sleep, but that does not always happen regardless how disciplined I am or how hard I try.


I feel deeply troubled  tonight.  Harsh words have been spoken and written to me by a trusted friend .  I will struggle never to refer to them again – they are the rantings of a cad after all –  but they are indelibly stamped on my soul.  I hope it made him feel better for having written them, for having thrown the last daggar.  At least that would have been achieved.  He succeeded in darkening my mind and it will take a huge effort of self discipline not to think about them anymore.


Lorene with Leslie’s new Sheltie, “Dasher” during The Gathering this August (2016)


Photograph of the grave of the original “Lad” collie that lived at Sunnybank


However, this is the wonderful time of year when the late summer dog show season  in New Jersey has arrived.  Therefore, I will let myself feel its joy.  It was one year ago exactly that having received Tresor back only a short time, he finished his Championship Dog Title  and we were all so proud and happy for him.  As always, I will turn to him for joy and comfort.  Having clearly lost the love and respect of my heretofore considered true friend who has abandoned us,  I know I have to be there all the more for Tresor and love him in fuller measure than I have already.  And I know his unconditional and special love is there all the more for me.

Tresor at Blyss
Tresor is home, 2015




Strange…..   recent readers, or readers who have not read everything on the website, may not be familiar with my poem, “Opal’s Prayer”.  I wrote it when she died and became extremely depressed. I would write a new verse every year for a long time.  I would then repeat the verses over and over to myself for comfort when emotional pain or stress overcame me.  I have found myself doing just that again now.  Examples of some of the verses are:

“Dear God, Opal is yours now.  Please take care of her every day.  May we meet again, Dearest Little One!”


“I’ll never forget those days, too brief though they were, When Opal was our dog…..Halcion days…..gone forever.”

as I ask God and Opal for protection from pain.




Blyss Despondency – an Oxymoron, therefore a Mistake

I believe it is always wrong to give in to the seductive temptation  to dwell on despondent thoughts, and who does not have them.  In my case, it is doubly wrong because I live with the two best dogs in the world, first of all who happen to be champion borzoi, and secondly are “Tresor” and “Jelly”, respectfully, therefore not ordinary dogs.  All I have to do is look at them, and they turn their eyes to me with a luminous gaze that speaks only of love.

But to err is human… the first part of that famous adage goes.  And I do say about myself I err with great ease.

I found myself alone with a large amount of time on my hands this weekend.  Well, why should that be anything new, since everyone knows I  live a solitary life here at Blyss Kennels aside from “Tresor” and “Jelly” regardless of any efforts I have made to the contrary.  And I forgot to consult my new method of coping with this which is centering on Catholic reading and  writings, based on my already strong foundation in that religion.  It sounds like such a wonderful idea until a difficult time arises, then I never think of it.

Sunday was a perfect example.  I was planning to spend the afternoon alone watching Turner Classic Movies on cable TV hanging out with the borzois.  Sure enough, toward the end of the day, a particularly weighty film was put on, The Heiress (1949) Dir. William Wyler, starring Ralph Richardson, Olivia De Havilland, and Montgomery Clift.  I was familiar with the story, having read the Henry James short novel.  It was as tragic a domestic tale as was ever written.  I wondered if I was up to watching it.  The doomed heiress, Catherine Sloper, reminded me so much of myself, that in the area of personal happiness, everything had gone terribly wrong through no real fault of her own, just family dynamics, especially with her father.   It made me wonder if perhaps I should not watch it at all, fearing it would plunge me into a deep depression.  I thought more and more about what to do.  Then I was struck with a fantasy.  It went like this.

What if we could go back in time in a time machine, and be in the days when Henry James was writing The Heiress.  Instead of a father regarding the marital prospects of his daughter so poorly that he suspected a man would marry her only for her money, that his generosity of spirit would allow her to marry a rogue whom she loved in order that she may enjoy the happiness of marriage.  Instead, he interfered; she lost the man; the two of them – father and daughter – ended their relationship together despising one another.  I imagined my Sunday afternoon spent alone for so many of the same reasons could be placed into a time machine.  Suddenly, I was a ghost sitting in the room with Henry James.  I was able to influence his creative spirit!  He wrote the novel with the happy ending.  Then, one hundred years later, the movie shown on Turner Classic Movies last Sunday would have the happy ending.

Who knows, maybe I could be in a time machine and go back in time.  Would my father get a second chance to get it right and after despising me, love me instead?  How different a person would that have made me?  But surely, Henry James, being a great writer, might have found a way for his paternal character to make his daughter happy.  Would my father have recognized his cosmic “second chance” and done a better job the second time around?  I know now as an adult, he meant well, I know he did, if only he could have……    Then, my Sunday afternoon spent alone in the present and watching the Heiress would have had a totally different emotional response. And I would not be the person I am today.

I watched the whole movie and found myself reacting to something different for the first time.  I no longer saw the father as a true villain.  Although I felt emotionally closer to the young woman I found myself having an understanding for the values of the father.   Having worked in a demanding career for thirty-eight years from which I recently retired, I can see the value the father placed on his own money, and his wish not to see it squandered on a foolish son-in-law.  This complicates the story, adding to its value as a masterpiece, does it not?  No one is truly right, and no one is truly wrong.  Perhaps I should try to think of my father that way.  There are no good guys, there are no bad guys.  There are just ordinary people trying to get it right at the end of the day.




A Rare Complaint at Blyss Kennels

Here we are nearly at mid-August, and a heat wave heavy with humidity has struck New Jersey.  If there were not two borzois living here with me, I would go to the Jersey Shore for the day and cool of on a beach.  In fact, I am very tempted to call one of the hotels or bed and breakfast inns I like in Cape May and leave for a few days.   However, that would also cause me problems with the borzois, so it is only a fantasy.

I am determined to let “Jelly” and “Tresor” live out their remaining lives happy and free from as much stress as possible; that is my choice.  I do not want to be one of those weepy women writing on Facebook about how I how to say goodbye to this borzoi or that and RIP because out of the blue it bloated, or died of respiratory failure from a too long walk in the heat.  How such a big, strong, and robust dog as a borzoi can be so fragile is one of nature’s paradoxes.  And so, here are “Jelly” and  “Tresor” basking on my deck, under the shade sail, one evening when the weight of the heat had left the day, watching me as I cleaned up their yard.  We get through life together.