As I moved along last month, in spite of my desire not to, in order to put myself out of my predictable, future misery, I perceived in the far distance a white flag of peace fluttering. It could almost have been missed it was so remote and brief. Could it be I see the words in a text message after a month of deafening silence, apologizing and wishing to return to my love? Yes, the very same lover who melted down and disappeared when I needed him and his love and strength the most….. But that was then and this is now….. Could I forgive him, he asked….. I replied there was nothing to forgive, please come back.
It would not be what many would have done, but I cannot be lead around like a cow in a herd. I take the risks, the unwise endeavors, the degrading gestures, show my tears, bear my breasts. It does not matter if it is a borzoi or a lover. Love is love for me. Once I love, it will not end pretty. Love charges me a huge fee but in spite of being willing to pay the price I often lose my investment.
But today, he has returned, transformed as if by magic, to the lover he was before he was seized by his own rage and exited the scene, not even knowing why or where he was going. His journey took him back to me. I love him unconditionally, like my borzoi, and took him back. He is my Adorable One, my Little Rock Star, since we spend so much time watching YouTube videos and he knows so much about 1960s British invasion rock music and the derivative bands it spawned, not to mention his guitar collection. I admit I have an encyclopedic knowledge of the subject myself, although my knowledge of classical music and opera equals it. We focus on our love and watch the music videos and rock documentaries of the musicians, amazing how many there are, and just escape our pain for the laughter hat comes from silly things. Someday, one of us will die first, and will leave the other shattered and heartbroken. Until then, we are blissfully in love. We are happy to share our joy with Kensie, although I know how much we are missing by not having a pair of borzoi to watch over things here. He does not get it though, and I believe it would be, how shall I say, “Too, too much…..”. Fortunately, Kensie does a wonderful job behaving just like a borzoi, and that is a very nice, endearing quality of hers.
For a year that commenced in a very bad way, a year that saw COVID-10 descend upon the Human Race and kill hundreds of thousands of people, well over 220,000 Americans, I can look back on it and see stars against the black background.
Here we are now, in new days for our country and the world. It’s been about three weeks now, and it still feels all wrong. Many people have a point and are right, even though they have opposing view points. Many people have died, many unfairly. Any life lost to violence is a sorrow and pains me deeply. Life is to be cherished and celebrated. Every person is a members of the human family, and one person’s joy is all of our joy, as another person’s sorrow is all of our sorrow. Living together in harmony, sparing the use of defamation and striving for consensus is how people should come together to resolve differences.The current American President fails to accomplish these skills that could “unite” the multitudinous masses that comprise America and disparate points of view, thereby only deepening the divisiveness growing dangerously wide in America. Even Generals and great military men of our day are apologizing for showing unity with their Commander in Chief, which he accomplished. He wanted a photo op of himself holding a bible – it was upside down by the way – in front of St. John’s National Cathedral where he does not worship – which he got. It had the effect of boomeranging on him, making him look evil. Where does this stop, I ask you?
If you are me, it stops in gardens, working in them, on them, or simply admiring them. It also includes surrounding yourself with a pack of really huge and gorgeous dogs, like, did I say borzoi? So, in January, I bought a Silken Windhound, although I really wanted another pair of borzoi. It is she, Kensie, who makes visits to formal gardens or fields of wildflowers, or in expansive meadows, or taking long walk together on winding roads that were once forests on the side of a mountain and probably should have stayed that way, even though I have lived here on four of those separate roads over the past 70 years. I also cheat by thinking I make new friends by getting into impromptu conversations with people who complement Kensie on these walks because of her exquisite and unusual beauty. I did not plan to get another dog after my last borzoi, Jelly, died last May.
Today, suffering permeates into the invisible fiber of society, unable to be seen. And, it is just not “there” to be observed by voyeuristic people who want to watch others suffer because it energizes them. The voyeurs will suffer, too. No one will be truly energized by this suffering because it is 100% toxic. Like the COV-19 virus, it is in our DNA now and it will take no prisoners. No one is free of it. Moreover, as the current, elected President fails to represent his people, Americans, nature hates a vacuum, and a charismatic leader will emerge to correct that mistake. I tremble.
I conclude we need our animals, wild flower meadows, and our gardens more than ever today! However, there was a time when grand words were written and sung by those of my generation, and they may speak to us today. Let me share a ballad written in honor of a true peace music festival, written by a Canadian song writer of the highest caliber, Joni Mitchell and sung by her closest friends, David Crosby, Steven Stills, Graham Nash, and Niel Young, also a Canadian.
… We are stardust, we are golden
We are fifty year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.
Maybe it is the time of year
Maybe it is the time of man
I don’t know who I am but life is for learning.
We are stardust, we are golden
We are fifty year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.
By the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong
Everywhere there was song and celebration
And I thought I saw the bombers turning shot gun in the sky
And they were turning into butterflies about our nation.
Found this on Facebook Sunday, May 31, 2020. I did not create this poetic essay, but I modified it to make it more suited to myself. I found it so appropriate to me. It rang true. I shared it with my Facebook friends and thought I would place my edited version here. I edited it to more accurately described my unique experience with my own dogs.
THE DREAM THAT MANY WILL NOT UNDERSTAND:
My Dogs are my personal dream.
One day when I am very old and when I can not walk anymore, it will be in my heart as a trophy of my memories.
I met people who taught me something and have the same spirit and I met others that I’m glad I forgot.
I got wet,
I felt cold,
And I felt warm,
I was afraid,
And I stood up,
I even hurt myself, I have been broken,
But also, I laughed out loud inside .
I spoke a thousand times with myself.
I sang and shouted with joy like a madman,
And yes … sometimes I cried.
I have seen wonderful places and lived unforgettable experiences.
I stopped a thousand times to see a landscape.
I spoke with perfect strangers, and I forgot people I see every day.
I went out with my demons inside and returned home with a feeling of absolute peace in my heart.
I always thought how dangerous it is, knowing that the meaning of courage is to advance even when feeling fear.
Every time I go out with my dogs, I think about how wonderful they are.
I stopped talking about it to those who do not understand, and I learned to communicate with others who feel the same as I.
I have met some amazing people I now call friends from all over this big world because of my dogs.
I spent money that I did not have, giving up many things I wanted or needed, but all these things are not worth even one special moment with my dogs.
They are not just a pet or a thing that I own, they are the lost part of my soul and my spirit.
And when someone says to me: “It’s just a dog”,… I do not answer. I just walk away and smile,
A dog….. only the person who loves them understands it.
May God bless my friends and all their dogs….
And the adventure continues. .
FEEL FREE TO COPY AND STICK THE TEXT WITH A PHOTO, ON YOUR WALL …
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 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.
Lorene, Karen Ackerman, and Mikhailya’s grand-daughter, Hawk Eye
There are no words to describe the loss and grief I feel knowing all of the Blyss borzoi are gone. And even Jelly, so wisely chosen from Bibikov Kennels in Cross River, NY, and destined by Frances Wright to come to Blyss ever since she was born, has joined them in farewell. I wander around as if I were a blind person, bumping into life’s obstacles, not knowing how to get out of the way of pain. And at the end of the day, every day, I ask myself, “Why am I here?” And I have no answer.
I can only contemplate that as alone as I am in my humanity, even a higher being does not want me.
I had the joy in May of attending the Spring borzoi specialty shows in NJ and PA, and was honored to have Wendy Finlayson of Mayvale Borzoi, in New Zealand, be my houseguest for one week. After the shows, we were invited for a day to Majenkir, a true high point. The last time I was there, it was all of nine years ago, to deliver the puppies of the one Blyss Kennels litter to Majenkir, the inimical “Magnus”, and his littermate who was lost, “Zephyrus”. I say “Zyphyrus” was lost because he was sold to a family on the west coast and was not heard from again after the male owner of the couple died suddenly and he and the wife went to live with one of the adult children. Not long after, “Magnus” was sold to Belisarius Borzoi, in Japan, to the Ozekis. Therefore, after nine years, I had the joy of being invited back with Wendy and other guests, Frances Wright of Bibikov, Don Foran from the UK, Karen & Howard Spey of Bookstor, and a few other guests. It was a lovely May day, and many wonderful photos were taken. We were then treated to a wonderful dinner at a nearby restaurant, The Lake Edge, on the shore of Swartswood Lake, that had the misfortune of burning down a few months later. Karen had many new young dogs to show us that day. The place looked as lush and gorgeous as ever, as if with the passage of time, it only got better. The borzoi never looked lovlier, as if she had honed her craft to such a degree that she no longer bred mere mortal canines, but canine deities. More would be seen of them at the fall specialties four months later. I cannot hold back the piece of intelligence that those particular specimens, a sire and his daughter, are direct descendants of my Magnus, the very borzoi pup I delivered to her on that day in March 2009, a grandson named “Vigow”, and a grand-daughter named “Symbolic”. At the Borzoi Club of Central NJ Specialty Show on September 7, 2019, “Vigow” won Best of Breed, and his daughter, the puppy-bitch shy of 18 months, “Sympolic”, won Best Opposite Sex. I was so totally over the moon happy!
While I was at the Borzoi Club of America Specialty Show in May, in Gettysburg, PA, from May 11 – 18, I renewed my acquaintance with the regional governor in the west, Karen Ackerman, who happens to own a Mikhailya grand-daughter, and a Magnus daughter, “Hawk-Eye”, who courses and does Open Field Coursing. I met her with her husband and Hawk Eye several years ago at the National in Huron, Ohio so I was thrilled to see her again in Bethlehem, PA. I just learned that she has a littermate of Symbolic, Lyra, who courses with Hawk Eye, and I was absolutely thrilled to learn of that, because I know that she has a second progeny of Mikhailya and Magnus, and that puppy bitch, too, has a great life.
I know that Magnus, and therefore my Mikhailya, have progeny all over the world. This makes me so proud, but I wanted to know who they were, how many there were, and where they lived. In order to obtain this data, I needed a report known as a “reverse pedigree”. Therefore, I requested one from an organization that compiles this information, Borzoi Breed Archive, in Vienna, AU. At first they said they did not have this capability and therefore could not provide it to me. Then, I received traumatic, tragic news about Magnus from a most unlikely source.
One day in June, I received a letter from Keizo Kaida, the former employee of Belisarius Kennels and handler of Magnus in Japan. He shared some very unhappy news regarding Magnus, and included photographs. Interestingly, Wendy Finlayson was in all of the photographs. He maintained that in August 2017, Magnus died suddenly, a day after Wendy left Belisarius Kennels after a visit of several days. That I had known, and always thought was “strange”, like, why did my borzoi die because Wendy left? But, Kaiza maintained that Magnus was not well kept in his retirement, he was kept in a kennel that was too hot and damp for him, and he suffered for it. My feelings regarding his death in connection to Wendy is that he heard English spoken. She doted on him, and showered him with attention and affection. She gave him a bath and blow dried him. This was shown in many photos I saw. Surely he looked happy. Then, she left, leaving him behind. My beloved Magnus believed he was going home, and when he realized he was left behind, he died the very next day. Wendy did take two of her own dogs out of the kennel that day when she left, but she left Magnus behind. If only she had taken my Magnus, too.
I had been told when he died that he was a house dog since his retirement, an unfortunate mistruth. How sad….. How sad he was not sent home when Belisarius was finished with him so he could die in New Jersey, where he would be loved. He deserved to be sent home. He made great amounts of money for both Majenkir and Belisarius kennels, and earned them a great many titles.
When I learned about this, I contacted the Manager of Borzoi Breed Archives, Karin Schellner, and told her about the Magnus’s story. I told her how much it would mean to me to get his reverse pedigree. I told her about how he died a slow, sad death, alone, unwell, and in exile in Japan. Karin ran the report for me, with the data she had at the time, going out four generations, all the data she had at that time, gratis. I was overjoyed to receive it, and sent her organization a donation of $100.00. She said the Borzoi Breed Archive was going to make this report available to everyone very soon. The report showed Magnus had 123 progeny all over the world, going out four generations.
I am so proud of this great borzoi whom I call “Magnus” instead of “Max”, his undignified Japanese call name. Such a bitter loss as this can never be measured for the depth and breadth of the pain of it. Let it be a cautionary tale. Guard them well. They give us so much when they trot around the ring and look so pretty doing it. It is not what they would ever do naturally. They do it for us, because we ask it of them, and because they love us. We owe them at the very least the very best of our care when we are through with them.
If anyone wants a copy of Magnus’s Reverse Pedigree, please contact me, Lorene Connolly, at Lorenecon@gmail.com, and I will be happy to share it with you, along with some of his beautiful photographs. He was one of the most handsome borzoi ever to be bred. But his dam was one of the most beautiful borzoi that ever lived…
for photos and information about CH Majenkir My Ksar Mikhailovna “Mikhailya”, the dam of “Magnus”. When My husband, whom she adored, was taken suddenly from us, Mikhailya was inconsolable. I tried to make a good life for her, but in my heart, although I did my best, I know I failed her. I have to live with that knowledge every day. It is one of the biggest regrets of my life.
For the last two years, I needed to work because, sadly, I needed the money. However, working did not help my finances much, especially the last year when I worked in a very fancy department store with beautiful clothes and jewelry. I am a girl with a spending disorder, and it kicked in while I was there. I had to quit that job and I decided to address my cash shortages by closely examining my spending patterns and I found many “mistakes”. Still, I have financial obligations that are considerable and challenging. Not having a borzoi at this time will help keep me on the path to becoming more financially sound. But I have made the decision to attend the Borzoi National Specially this year because I can drive to get to it, and that is a good thing.
I thought about moving to southern Delaware but after a long consideration, realized I could not do it. I could not leave my home, and did not want to be far from NY City where my son and his family live. I have a baby grand-daughter now whom I adore. I am trying to be happy in the here and now, content that what I have is good, just as it is, that I have accomplished a lot, and have every right to be happy. But the real reason is I could not leave my home in Mountainside, or the beautiful Watchung Reservation that borders it where our lives, Bob’s and mine, with our borzoi was lived.
Before deciding not to move, I set about cleaning out boxes and files in the garage and attic. There, I found many items of interest, including my borzoi books, magazines, BCOA Yearbooks with photographs of Blyss Kennels borzoi, and many figurines. I have decorated my house with the figurines and pictures, many of which are beautifully framed. Going through my files, I found all of the correspondence with Karen Staudt-Cartabona of Majenkir Borzoi, the owner of the stud dog for Mikhailya’s litter, that I had done over the years, especially those written during the summer of 2008, prior to breeding Mikhailya. They were long emails, pouring my heart out to her, about how I felt about Mikhailya, and why I wanted her to be bred. Then, I found the email telling her about the birth of the puppies, and how splendid a puppy Magnus was, about his “greatness” even as a newborn! After that, I found a file about “Raynbo”, the kennel of Roni and Jennifer Zucker, from whom we got Paris and then Opal. There were photos of visits to their home: club events, a Match show, picnics, private invitations. I was overwhelmed. Tears flowed…… So much is gone now or different: Roni is dying in a nursing home; Jennifer has to work outside of her home and kennel; Bob is dead; I am old and frail; all of the borzoi of those days are all dead. Nothing is as it was. Although reviewing these materials left me feeling overwhelmed, I was so grateful to have saved and found it all again.
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.
It is with the heaviest of hearts that I share the sad news of Jelly’s passing today. She fought a brave fight for one year with chylothorax, submitting to procedures multiple times. Always brave and stoic, she was a great actress for putting on a healthy face, as if to say, “See, Mommy, I’m just fine!”. But I saw her as she struggled to cross a small field to reach me, and turned away so not to embarass her for taking so long. I also saw her trying to stalk and hunt little animals but not be able to make the charge and pounce, and could only imagine what she must have thought….. I had always turned away by then so she would not know I knew she failed. We had perfect communication, without words, and I knew she was far worse than she seemed. The vet let me be with her when she passed. He had a beautiful red velvet blanket to give her to lie on. He took one last picture of us together on it. When she passed, she looked as if she were just resting there, looking very beautiful, with no sign of illness anywhere. She died with her splendid beauty intact. Jelly’s official portrait taken by Maxine Bochnia is shown below. I think it captures her unique beauty and grace to perfection. Somehow, feeling friendless and robbed, I must find a way to go on without her. Heaven has a brighter star for having Jelly in it. Dear God, please let me find it to guide me home.
Lately, the name of Magnus, the dog I bred but who was sold by Karen Staudt-Cartabona to Belisarius Kennels in Japan and became known in Asia as Max, has been coming up almost constantly. It began almost immediately, when she used him at stud on a bitch, Majenkir Spiral in a Circle. Through that breeding, many get were born. Kind owners who were local called me to let me know, many inviting me to their houses for lunch to meet my grand-dogs! Later, I began seeing their names in show Catalogues, including at every National I attended for many years. Then, local area friends informed me that their puppies were direct descendants of Magnus. It was always amazing to me.
Later, when he was in Japan, we learned about Lucy, the most famous of all his get, about which so much has been written here and so much is shown on the Blyss Kennels website. For, she was sent to the USA to have a most brilliant show career of two years duration, breaking every borzoi breed record in history, including Reserve Best of Breed at Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 2016. How blessed we were.
This week, I innocently posted a photo of myself with Jelly doing something together, and a man from Thailand wrote to me letting me know he, too, has a descendent of the great Max! He bought him from a breeder in Russia. It appears there are descendants of Magnus/Max, and therefore, our beloved Mikhailya, his dam, all over the world now.
I came across this old email in my Sent messages and thought I would share it on Blyss Blog. It captures what is truly in my heart, unedited, raw and true, in a letter to Karen. I wisely blind copied it to myself, thereby saving it, only to be found over two years later by accident. It brought tears to my eyes as I read it.
I received my summer issue of Sighthound Review today and took a minute to sit down and skim through it quickly while my borzois ate their dinner. I am so thrilled to see your nearly two page ad, especially the page outlining the remarkable Majenkir wins in Spring of 2017. I believe you wrote this up in Facebook, too, but I am especially happy you put it in Sighthound Review. It makes a great ad. Thank you for the mention of Regal and Magnus, and Magnus as the sire of Lucy, and her mention.
I will never forget the moment I first saw Magnus….. he had just been delivered by Caesarian and cleaned up, and the vet tech came out to show him to me. Upon seeing him, I knew then he was destined for greatness. I never wavered in that belief. I do remember writing to you in an email later that day and saying that. You must have thought, what does she know! Truly, I knew it. He was special at birth and has remained so throughout his life. I am so glad he was to be your dog, since you would know what to do with a great borzoi like that, and we never would have had the resources to give him what he deserved. He should not have languished his life in the suburbs as a pet. That’s fine for Tresor, who only needs love and care to be happy, but it would not have been right for him. I am so glad he turned out to be one of your great borzoi.
I feel blessed and honored to know you, and that together I helped you achieve a remarkable milestone in the borzoi annals of success.