I have been very busy these days after months of lethargy and depression catching up with work that had been put aside. When the weather become warm, I want to start gardening and taking care of the lawn outdoors. I need to be very disciplined however I can be most tempted to stray when a film I truly love comes on the schedule for Turner Classic Movies. Last night, when I should have been sleeping, the movie scheduled was among my top 5, Splendor in the Grass, directed by Elia Kazan, starring a very young Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty, made in 1961. Another lifetime ago, I may add. I know I can write volumes about this movie and why Iike it so much, but now is not the time. I will say, even having seen it a dozen times, each viewing is as new and raw and shocking as was the first time. It is difficult to watch the growing pains of two young people who love each other trying to do the right thing while everyone around them is acting badly and the world as they know it is undergoing profound social changes, even in the Nebraska heartland. And yes, it is excruciatingly painful to watch them as they come undone and become unrecognizable people from whom they were at the beginning of the story. Together, once so close, they launch their adult lives in such different places, determined not to think much about happiness anymore, and say a simple good by before setting off apart.
As actors, the careers of Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty exploded with stardom and success, including Oscars. It is always a joy to watch their films, each one so different yet rewarding. They talents are boundless. Natalie was taken far too prematurely with a tragedy that defied all logic, as if it were part of the plot of the movie she was making. It never added up to me…… But the death of a great movie star usually does not. They never really die. The movies and the stars I love so much share my heart with the dogs and the horse I have loved so much. I am so grateful for the technology that enables us to watch, rent or stream virtually any movie we want to watch almost anytime for a very small amount of money. They are my companions in my loneliness.
I have endured much since Jelly’s death nine months ago, trying to accept my decision not to acquire another dog, or at least not another borzoi. It has been a long time to be alone and unhappy, and I will admit to having made some grave mistakes. They were followed by a very difficult period of serious health problems, more than one, but not excluding a worsening of a depression. I sought relief where I had done so before, with my physicians, and it was agreed that the time might be right to consider bringing another dog into my life but a breed other than a borzoi. After much consideration, I decided to acquire a beautiful Silken Windhound from Mary Childs of Wind ‘n Satin Kennels in Ohio. She is a long time borzoi breeder, and active, life time member of the Borzoi Club of America. In recent years she has taken to breeding Silken Windhounds. When she learned I was interested in acquiring one, she contacted me. She happened to have the most perfect individual in her kennel for me, a four-and-a-half-year old bitch, a Grand Champion who had recently whelped a litter and was ready to place in a regular home. After the sharing of some photos, it was confirmed that this perfect angel would come to Blyss. Her name is Kensie. Immediately upon her arrival, Kensie knew what she was there for, and that I was her person. She never whimpered or looked back, she never uttered a sound of disturbance or complaint, or put a foot wrong. She simply adored me upon entering my home as if she knew she had a reason to be there, mainly being to heal my broken heart.
I will say life is unbearable here without Jelly. I am acutely aware that this is all so deja vue. I am taken back almost thirteen years to the death of Opal. This is definitely familiar territory, and not terrain one would want to visit again any time soon.
But if I am devastated, Jelly’s darling dog walker is destroyed. She stopped by today weeping, asking why I put her down when I did, and why I did not wait, saying she would have taken over the payment of the continued veterinary bills. This would not have been feasible, given this woman’s financial situation. Still, I know she would have done it…… there is no limit to the kindness of some people, and she is that kind of person. And Jelly was the kind of dog that would bring it out in someone. A man who accompanied her on her walks with Jelly with his dog was equally devastated and burst into uncontrollable sobs when he heard the news. I decided to go to The Scouting Field in the Watchung Reservations to be with them today, and joined them on a hike to the Deserted Village. I had not done this in several years, probably not since I broke my shoulder walking Tresor three years ago. Jelly loved this daily outing with them, and they told me of her many exploits out on the trail and all the fun she had. I felt she was there with us, and not only Jelly but all the Blyss borzoi, especially Opal, whose image kept flashing before my eyes during this long and rather arduous venture for me. For the longer I had Jelly, the more she melded into Opal, and the more I felt that Opal had returned, and that she had never left me. I had had her with me all these years. Recently, with this new found knowledge, I felt blissfully happy, happier than I had been in years. Then, she was gone. So now, I am grieving again for Opal, too. I feel that every time I reached out and touched Jelly, I was touching something God-like, something beyond reality, and it transformed me into something beyond what I was, something greater, better, beyond anything I could ever be myself. Because of them, Jelly and Opal, especially, but all the Blyss borzoi, I was a better person. Their innate goodness made me good. I bought this beautiful cottage eight years ago for my four borzoi. Now they are all gone. Now, I am alone, and I will be alone forever. It is as if they died, and I died with them. My beautiful house has become a hollow tomb. And I am still here I it, and I don’t know why.
Yesterday, my club, Borzoi Club of Central New Jersey, held a Supported Entry at the New Brunswick Kennel Club show at the New Jersey Convention Center in Edison, NJ. We got 22 borzoi to enter, and it included Sweepstakes classes. Many long time showing friends from the club and the nearby clubs were there, showing their new puppies. Jelly’s breeder was supposed to be there but changed her mind at the last minute and stayed home. I was disappointed to lose the chance to see her but she has invited me to come up again another day.
There were those surprise conversations one finds they are having with others at a dog show that really stand out. A woman and I, a woman whom I respect and whom I have seen so many times, actually took the time to have a brief conversation that proved to be very profound. She knew all about Tresor and his recent death. She told me she thought he was one of most spectacular borzoi she had ever seen. That was a huge complement coming from her. She works for Karen (Mikhailya’s breeder, & my litter’s co-breeder). It’s interesting how dog people in the category of peers or friends say things like that to me, but from the breeders, there is a wall of silence. Even about Magnus and Lucy. Like it never even happened. I guess that is how they feel about me a lot of the time: Oh, her, like she never even happened.
When Tresor took his last breath, the last puff of happiness left my life and it is not coming back any time soon. My Tre, My Boy, My Heart, My Love. How could you go and leave me here without you?
It is bad enough an 8 1/2 year littermate of Tresor’s, Magnus, died in August. Recently, one of Jelly’s littermates, “Giselle”, died, breaking her owners heart. Because I do the Sunshine role for Borzoi Club of Central New Jersey, I sent her owner, a member, a sympathy card. Although it was several weeks ago, she called me sometime in the last day or two. I just received the voicemail message. Although she is devastated, she expressed her condolences to me for my loss of Tresor. Following is my response. I hope it helps her.
I hope you are doing well. I wanted to acknowledge that I received your voicemail. Thank you for reaching out to me. Like yourself, my heart is broken. Tresor was from the only litter I will ever get to breed. He was a rare, unique dog for me, one I will love forever and always grieve for. Sadly, their time with us is brief so when they go they take our broken hearts with them. Let’s try to find joy in the borzoi they have left behind.
A few weeks ago, I sent a note to a very prominent man in the breed, the former Governor of Region I, Borzoi Club of America, and told him I had lost Tresor. He is now the new President of the Borzoi Club of America. He took the time out to write back to me. The correspondence follows.
Dear R—, I just thought, as a friend, I wanted to let you know I had to let my boy, Tresor, go the other day. He presented with an abdominal hematoma and at nine years of age the vet felt he would not do well with surgical intervention & would not be buying very much time if he survived an operation.
Of course I feel horrible since we only got to breed one litter & he was our only dog from it. Sometimes I wonder how we do what we do when the pain of losing them is so great. But we do it for love….at least I do. Bob & I loved him so much and we never doubted his love for us in return. Tresor was a great dog to own & love.
I’m sorry to hear your sad news. Yes, it is a wonder we do what we do. That’s why we shower them with love while we have them.
Try and enjoy the holidays and cherish the memories.
Feeling so much like a stranger in my own mind, not really knowing how to handle the high barres I have set for myself with the inner voice command, “You will do this!” I have been challenged to the point of exhaustion from running away from myself and everything except Jelly and Tresor. I have embraced them closer to my heart than ever, they mean so much more now. When I look around me, I see that Tresor and Jelly are all that remain. And yet, their coming to me was the result of so random and haphazard events that collided for a moment in time with me, for each one separately.
It is autumn again, and in autumn, I seem to have reasons to go to the veterinarian to take care of problems. This time, poor Tre was sprayed by a skunk in the yard, followed by a physical encounter with another creature that bit his leg so badly that it required a veterinary visit. So we have been off to Washington, NJ a few times now, and still have one more trip to make.
Tre is still who he his, full of great male pride and fire! I thought I could walk him myself again, and bought a prong collar. Nothing could have been further from the truth. The prongs did not stop him from dragging me across the street to have a fence fight with the neighbor’s Golden Retriever, a youngster who has a fire in him as well. He had to be dragged off the fence by his owner before I was able to regain control over Tresor again. So, it was back across the street and into the house before I broke another bone.
Sadly, whomever I find to help me with Tresor, with walks, dog sitting and general help whom I can trust, either disappears, moves, gets sick, whatever; they go away. I always take these losses hard, knowing how they impact Tre. None of the losses is worse than the recent loss of LT who made a sweeping exit with a major hissy fit. Aside from destroying me, but what am I, he knows this hurts Tresor the most because he loves him. My Boy. I look at borzoi photos on FB all day, and see pictures of happy borzoi running in big fenced yards, or free in fields or meadows, and my heart breaks for all the shortcomings my life attained. Yes, I fall short. And, there are the other people in my life, they just turn their backs for seemingly no real reason and walk away in rage….. this is a pattern that mystifies me. Then there are the ones that stay…… they contract fatal diseases and die. As I write today, that is happening now with a wonderful man who has been Tresor’s most recent steady friend and a truly good person we know. I am truly devastated about him.
Not to be overly sad and negative, I have tried to find my strength amidst all of these travails. I identified an unusual idea that I thought would be good for me, regarding an employment opportunity, and I followed up on it. It turns out that I now work part time at a local department store. This has really been a huge help for me. It puts something else in the forefront of my thoughts, something that attests to my strength, diverting me from my pain. I am still active in my dog clubs and attend their meetings, programs, and shows, and I still serve on the boards where I have those responsibilities. However, I have a new world that I have entered, one that demands making new social relationships, and addresses my financial shortfalls, since owning two borzois on a retirement income is not easy.
More about this later…… My new pattern of absences from home has been noticed by a certain borzoi…. and he has let his disapproval be known perfectly clearly!
I 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.
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!
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.