Category Archives: Dogs

Life today at Blyss Kennels. After a hiatus.

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

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, or Mountainside, or the beautiful Watchung Reservation, only a quarter mile from my home, where our lives, Bob 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, and figurines.  I have decorated my house with the figurines and pictures which are beautifully framed.  Going through 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Passing Days at Blyss without Jelly

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.

 

Jelly of Blyss Kennels, from Bibikov: An Obituary. 2010 – 2019

Jelly portrait by Maxine Bochnia

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.

 

Blyss Magnus – Max

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.

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RE:  Sighthound Review, Summer Issue, 2017

From:  Lorene Connolly <lorenecon@gmail.com>

Date:  Aug 14, 2017, 6:01 PM

To Karen, bcc: me

Dear Karen,

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.

Love,

Lorene

 

 

 

“I will by you a new life.” Everclear. In rock song lyrics, not Blyss.

I returned to the workplace full time on Tuesday, September 4, 2018, after working part time for one year, moving to a different retail store.   I was surprised to  have the position offered to me.  Sadly, I needed the money as well as more things to fill my time.   I was tired of having open ended unstructured days trying to navigate life as a widow very much held down by the responsibilities of keeping borzois and the upkeep of a home in an area of the country with a high cost of living.

For good news, it appears Jelly’s condition of chylothorax has disappeared.  I thought  it was always fatal.  There was no mistake in the diagnosis.  Her chest was tapped twice, with a considerable amount of fluid extracted.  Although it is perplexing , it is joyful to know she is well.

I have to stay focused on the blessings life has tossed my way, the ability to pay my bills, and the health of Jelly.  Her breeder and I are even discussing the possibility of showing her as a Veteran at the upcoming Borzoi Club of America National Specialty Show in May.  She finished her championship as a puppy, and this would crown her life.

Life goes along in these twisted, bizarre ways.  The return of Jelly’s health may portend to return her to the show ring where she began.  This would be her personal victory over death.  Many people would be happy for her, and I think for her breeder and me, too.  It would be a very happy ending to the story of Blyss Kennels, a story that began with the dramatic death of a precious puppy bitch, followed by that of my husband, leaving me alone and confused not knowing where to turn.  I would hope I brought it to the right place; a place with happy beautiful dogs and my life where it belongs.

A Pre-summer Sunday at Blyss Kennels

It is a spring morning at Blyss, a damp, cool and cloudy day.   Slowly, I am getting the work in the flower beds done.  Jelly is much on my mind.  At eight years of age, she was recently diagnosed with chylothorax, a serious and even fatal respiratory disease.  Surgery is not an option. We are treating it medically.  She is handling it well.  Every day is a gift.   It has been good weather to walk Jelly and visit the neighbors.  It is also good weather for her to go out with her friend of two years, since I broke my shoulder, N-39, who took to stopping by and bringing Jelly to the Watchung Reservation with her and her Dalmation.  Even our friend LT, whom Jelly adores, drops in to lend a hand and visit her.   Jelly really does not know she is sick and is still able to run with bursts of speed.  She chases rabbit, squirrel, and even deer.  She is an amazing borzoi.  I am providing updates to all of her friends on Facebook, where she is very popular.

I have a part time job now at a local area department store.    However, I am beginning to believe this is not the best solution for me at this time.  I had to miss all of the specialty shows during the first week of May.   Then, the week off I had planned to go to the National I decided not to go because of Jelly’s illness.  I feel as if I have heaps of disappointments piling up on me.  And I feel my sense of isolation weighs heavily on me.  And I am somewhat limited about what  I can do about that because of caring for Jelly and not wanting to leave her alone for long periods of time.  I am very much a home-body, which to a large degree is a comfort to me, I admit.  But it is isolating.

Facebook is an enormous help, keeping me in touch with all of my friends in the borzoi community.  I have had much good news recently.  Jelly’s breeder, N-24, bred the bitch she bred three years ago.  She has eight healthy puppies.  The sire, from N-5, is a grandson of Magnus.  So, Magnus and Mikhailya are in their pedigrees.  Lucy, a Mikhailya  grand-daughter, returned to Japan and is living with N-38 of Belisarius Kennels.  She is currently in whelp and her puppies are due soon.  People all over the world are anticipating their birth.  It is so uplifting to see so much joy from these special dogs.

But it is more than just breeding and showing.  There is also a lot of news on Facebook about the efforts among the breeders and rescue organizations that have been formed, such as National Borzoi Rescue Foundation and National Borzoi Rescue Foundation – International, and the efforts of the Borzoi Club of America with their Beverley Taylor Trust enabling borzois who are in a bad way or place to be saved.  It pleases me so much to know that my own borzoi are not the only ones to be cared for and loved, including those that will never walk into a show ring.  I also want to say I applaud other breeds whose members have established comparable organizations to help their own.

In closing, today I want to thank the Maker of the Universe for the gifts of my borzoi, especially Tresor and Jelly.  Although it pains me that I lost Tresor in December,  and Jelly is ill, they still came into my life to give me love I could not find elsewhere.  I can only hope I did not let them down.  I cannot imagine life without a borzoi of my own to love, yet I must somehow face that prospect and go on.  I thank my friends for all they give me when they open their hearts and share their borzoi with me.

Lucy’s Farewell

After having written about Lucy and her many accomplishments over the last two years, the Grand-daughter of our Blyss Kennels bitch, Mikhailya, from the one litter she had, you are no stranger to her  phenomenal list of accolades.  However, if you have not followed the story or are new to the Blog, allow me to reproduce the post that Valerie Nunez-Atkinson, her handler of two years, wrote about her on the eve of putting her back on the plane to Japan.  Upon arrival, she will return to Belisarius Kennels to Mai Ozeki Hirai, her original owner and breeder.   Her great sire, “Max”, Mikhailya’s puppy, sadly passed last August and will not be there to greet her at her homecoming.  Valerie’s Facebook post follows, documenting Lucy’s show career and accomplishments:

May 8 at 9:52pm

 

See you soon…..on her way home to Japan

 

The time has finally came, forced to say our goodbyes, The Lovely Lucy is on her way home.

We’ve dreaded this day as we have done in the past and no doubt will in the future. It’s the hard part of opening our hearts to those that come to us, those that we welcome and take in as family.

Lucy, with us for over 2 years exceeded all expectations…2015 Top Dog All Breeds in Japan with her great handler Shota, AKC’s All Time Top Winning Borzoi, the #1Hound in 2017, National Specialty BISS, 3x BOB winner at the Westminster KC, 2x Hound Group Winner at Westminster KC and lastly RBIS at the 2016 Westminster KC….and she has also already produced a National Specialty Winning Son (WD & BOW)….All of that aside, she was just our dog that we loved and adored. She smashed every record and set more but for us she is the dog that stole our hearts with her sweet soft nature, silly snorts, scootie butt zoomies, her glamorous self and her heart that gave us her all every single time she stepped into the ring. And, that says it all considering she IS a Sighthound bitch, lol;)) When she came to us we didn’t know if she could withstand or have the want to show for what is expected here in the States….we were ready to accept that reality if it wasn’t in her heart. But, after her breathtaking USA debut at Westminster KC and her heart stopping RBIS from Famed Breeder Judge; Richard Meen we decided to see what she could do….. she readily and happily stepped up to the plate and the winning began….her National Specialty came from another Breeder Judge; Ron Spritzer (Carol Spritzer) with her Son, standing behind her, another Honor. Her AKC All Time BIS record was awarded by none other then Icon Mr. Frank Sabella, truly special in that he was a unexpected judge change that day and so thrilled to have USA owners Risky M. Molnar (Michele and Jamie Danburg on hand to celebrate the day with us.

Lucy gave Antonio his FIRST USA BIS with CJ going RBIS, another memorable day. She and Antonio went on to be awarded another 9, 10 in total for the Team of Antonio and Lucy. Her BIS total 28 in USA and 13 in Japan, career of 41 All Breed BIS’s. Much of Lucy’s success is a credit to Antonio , it was all on him to keep her in tip top shape mentally and physically. Her muscle was hard, her coat glorious (when in coat after all she is a bitch and was never ever on Cheque drops) she naturally came into and out of coat as any coated female would. When out of coat and breaking the all time record under Frank Sabella….his comment was “all the better to see all her beautiful curves, both a perfect Topline and Underline” from the Man that knows it was indeed a huge compliment to her outstanding quality and type. So, Antonio thank you, thank you for all you have done for Lucy in her time with us. She adores you like all the others do a true testament to your soul. For that I’m forever grateful.

To Michele and Jamie , we were so honored to have you join our team. Without your help, encouragement and never ending support Lucy would not of had this amazing career. We all love you both.

To Shota Hirai, Mai Hirai, Kyoko Ozeki, ?? ? Minoru thank you for choosing us. There have been many others in the decade of showing for you and no doubt many more to come but there will only be ONE LUCY. We love you all;)

To all that cheered us on through the years, we thank you. The fellow breeders that supported us we are forever grateful. And to all that was on Team Lucy, thank you??.

We have cried tears of joy many times with her, today the tears of sadness from our hearts, as she heads home to Japan.

The accolades are many indeed but today our hearts are breaking as we must say ….see you next time Lucy, forever Team #welovelucy.

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I will admit it is difficult for me to read this.  An era of historic borzoi conformation annals comes to an end with Lucy’s return to Japan.  My one comment about Mikhailya’s breeding has been consistent:  It proved to be very important to the borzoi breed  history, andir made so many people so happy.  Then why am I weeping?  As I often write on Facebook, “Tears……”

 

The many ways that dogs (borzois) move on

I have been greatly troubled by the winter weather since the death of Tresor in early December.  It is early May now.  Winter lingered on long, keeping snow flakes well in sight, and worries of icy roads and driveways  on everyone’s mind.  Where was spring, we all wonder.  My barometer is the color of the mountain.  The day the color of the mountain changes from black to green, it is sure to be spring.  That happened about a week ago.  And with it, the blossoms of the flowering fruit trees soon followed.  All seemed right with the world.

Jelly developed what looked like a fatty tumor on her chest.  The mostly off and on again boyfriend, “LT”, insisted I take her to the vet as if it were a matter of life or death.  So I made an appointment and took the long trip to Washington, NJ.  I shall be brief…..  her heart beat sound was “muffled”…..  it was determined at Garden State Veterinary Specialists in Tinton Falls that she has chylothorax.  They removed one liter of white, fatty liquid from her chest.  Now she is on a pill, a flavonoid called Rutin, three times a day, and eats a no fat prescription kibble.  She seems totally cured.  I have an appointment with the veterinarian in Washington on Monday, four days from today, for a follow up visit.  I am hoping for a clear heart sound.  In the meantime, Jelly’s behavior is totally normal.  She does not act ill and never did.  Dogs with this disease are usually very ill and must have surgery or they will die.     We are so lucky Jelly seems to be doing so well.

In life, so much can change in the matter of one heart beat.  I am very much aware of that and live in a state of suspended terror every day for the welfare of my borzoi.

My theory of how this happened is that it was a physical manifestation of her stress about losing Tresor.  I am very lucky she has not died already.

Thinking about the things that be for Blyss Kennels without The Tre

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?

A Blyss missive

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.

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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.
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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.

12/14/2017

To R—-,

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.

Kind regards

Lorene

 

12/15/17

To me,

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.