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.
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.
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.
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?
I had to let Tre go suddenly yesterday during a visit to a veterinarian’s office. It was nine years & three days after he was born there. It was the happiest day of my life when his great dam, “Michailya”, gave us our only Blyss Kennels litter. He was the best thing I had to show for my life, a life characterized by extremely hard work and littered with scores of heartache & tragedies. There was never a finer spirit of a borzoi than my Tresor. I know he wanted to stay longer with me but I could not let him suffer to do it. Farewell, CD Blyss O’Majenkir Heavenly Tresure “Tresor”! Run Free with all the other great borzoi spirits in heaven until we meet again. I know I will find you there!Photo by Maixine Bochnia, Fandogs.
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!
Today, September 7, 2017, I enjoyed seeing my borzoi breed friends & mentor at the Central NJ Hound Assn Show in Bridgewater NJ. Much fun getting caught up, & esp enjoyed the borzois of all ages. So many new puppies! And other puppies are becoming so grown up!
On Saturday, Sept 9, same show grounds, North Branch Park, is the Borzoi Club of Central NJ Specialty show! Planning to enjoy a great Specialty! More members & borzoi than ever.
Best of Breed was awarded to a Boy nearly still a pup, and one that I had the joy of watching grow up, since he is a nephew of my Jelly and I was previous welcome to visit (but no more…..), the stunning young Majenkir line dog, Bibikov You Know My Name, “Hunter”, owned by N24, sired by one of N5’s stunning stud dogs. I went over to congratulate N24, but when I did, Hunter jumped out of his skin, standing up on two legs and reared, placing his front paws on my shoulders with great enthusiasm – and I let him. I hugged and kissed him, and told him what a good boy he was and how much I loved him. He was so happy to see me. What can I say….. Animals are so true, so pure…… they either like you or they don’t, they don’t have artifice about it. I was so happy for him that I stayed to watch him in the Group, but unfortunately, he did not make the cut. But it was a joy to sit ringside and see him in what will be his first of many Group classes. Hunter has a great show career ahead of him. He defeated many specials in the Best of Breed ring that day, and I was overjoyed for him.
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.