I feel like how a dog from the past must have felt trying to enter England, in a long, seemingly endless quarantine. But no, I am a human being in the USA and I never left home. I just cannot go out anywhere safely. To be safe, I must stay home and be alone. However, walking around town is allowed if safe social distancing of six feet is maintained. Still, that does not satisfy my never ending gnawing need for intimacy. With so much time on my hands and because I am so good at procrastinating leaving my lawn not mowed and my flower beds not weeded, I have decided to write on my blog at Blysskennels.us tonight. I have been procrastinating writing on my Blog, too, showing how bad I have really been and how low my spirits have sunk.
Walking to Death
April 7, 2020
I am told it is a remedy, but tell me,
What is it that I see on my walks that makes for improvement?
It began in mid March and now it is early April. Hateful spring.
No one knows when it will end. It could be a very long time from now.
Although it remains cold and windy from winter,
I see there are splashes of color now: yellows and pinks, from flowering bushes and trees,
Breaking through. I contemplate them. They bring a hope or sorts
Having seen only grey, dark branches for so long that appeared to be dead.
It was an illusion, I thought, that this was a death of the flora, on the shrubs, on the flowering trees, and especially on the mountain.
Do I see a tiny splash of green there? I am not sure…..
I know it will be there soon,
And then there will be the miracle of tiny white Dogwood blossoms scattered among the green
Where they were once abundant…before their own virus came for them.
We live in the day of viruses, and all we can do is walk to death.
Walk them off, walk them away,
Walk them until we tire, walk them until we die.
Walk them with our children, walk them with our dogs,
Walk them with our friends, with our fathers, with our mothers and with our lovers.
How can there be so many places to walk to and so many places to walk from,
And learn so many people’s stories along the way that don’t do anyone any good
For each and every one has one, a story that is
And not about the virus that always lurks behind us now taking souls away.
I see in the news today, in an attempt to be politically correct, a corporate giant, known for it’s long history and many levels of accurate information dissemination, has enforced censorship on its subscribers rather than letting each of its world wide respected universe of subscribers decide for themselves. This clearly reveals a corporate superiority complex, contempt and lack of respect for us all, by its action of removing the Hollywood icon of 1939, Gone With the Wind (GWTW), from its offerings today. In so doing, the entire country’s First Amendment Rights of Free Speech under the U.S. Constitution are violated.
This was called censorship the last time I looked. GWTW is one of Hollywood’s all time great masterpieces on many levels. It deserves to be seen for many reasons, especially from being entertaining, beautiful to watch, to being historically accurate and thereby edifying.
GWTW was a brutally realistic depiction of the South’s punishment and destruction for its slavery based economy by losing the Civil War. It accurately captures the South in decay and then being destroyed, with burned out fields devoid of crops. In addition, all the main characters suffered enormously for their southern, slave based economy. There are no winners here. The loss of the Southern way of life based on slave labor is clearly and unequivocally depicted.
Moreover, tragedy, symbols of moral punishment, follow the southern main characters to the film’s long end:
Scarlet and Rhet’s young daughter dies in a horrible riding accident,
Scarlet suffers a miscarriage,
Scarlet and Rhet, husbands and wife, hate one another and are both alcoholics,
Melanie dies horrifically in childbirth leaving a small son and a grieving husband behind,
Scarlet then realizes that her long time and illicit love for Melanie’s husband, Ashley Wilkes, has always been unrequited, and
At long last, Rhet leaves Scarlet when she wants him to stay with her with his most famous line of all:
“Frankly, My Dear, I don’t give a damn” , racy words for 1939.
There is no victory lap here for the South and many lessons to be learned for getting it wrong. Yet to this day, while handling perhaps our county’s most sensitive period in our history, I do not believe a film as beautiful to watch as it gracefully depicts terminal punishment on the loser has ever been created again in Hollywood.
A stunningly beautiful young, English actress and a newcomer, Vivien Leigh, won a Best Actress Oscar her first time out playing Scarlet O’Hara with her heart and soul on constant view. Hattie McDaniel, an American of color, won Best Supporting Actress. This was the first time a person of color won an Oscar. The film also won a Best Picture Oscar and several others. GWTW stands up as well today as it did when it was released, and it is as respected and revered today as it was when it was made, as is the novel by Margaret Mitchell, a Southern woman, upon which it is based, when it was published. The film is a huge Hollywood icon of excellence that subsequent films tried to emulate but failed.
So sad and sorry to see this happen. This is a loss for HBO that I hope other services do not emulate.
I am very excited about leaving for the Borzoi National Specilty Show tomorrow. However the preceding two weeks have been truly special, as well. On May 2nd., Wendy Finlayson, of Mayvale Borzoi, New Zealand, was looking for a host home near the East Coast Spring Borzoi Specialty Weekend in early May, and I was recommended to her by Joy Windle. I graciously accepted the opportunity to host her. Therefore, on Thursday, May 2nd I picked her up at Newark Airport and we were on our way. On Friday, May 3rd, there were back-to-back specialties with the Borzoi Club of Greater NY and the Borzoi Club of Delaware Valley. Daniel Foran, who was being hosted by Frances Wright, was judging the Borzoi Club of Greater NY, and it was very exciting to watch his class.
On Wednesday, we were invited to the home and kennel of Karen Staudt-Cartabona. Fran along with Daniel were there, too, along with Karen and Howard Spey. It could not have been a lovelier day. There we saw many puppies and adult borzoi of various ages. Among them was a bitch named “Mericlone. This is a “Mikhailya” Grand-Daughter and a “Magnus”/”Max” daughter, making her a half-sister of Belisarius “Lucy”. As I stood besides her, caressing her, she stood quietly besides me. As shd did, she tapped me several times with her paw, as if she understood my significance to her life, and was trying to tell me something. She was exquisite. Later, we got to see more puppies and dogs, and it was a wonderful day. Wendy critiqued Mericlone’s litters; Mericlone recently had three, along with some of the other dogs. Wendy was very impressed with the high quality of the dogs Karen had at this time.
The last time I had been to Karen’s home was when I gave Karen the puppies that were hers from the Blyss litter, “Magnus” and a third pup, 9 years ago. It was a bright, sunny day in March, 2009. It was hard for me to give up my puppies. I knew it would be my only one, and I would have given the world to keep them, but this would not be possible. I knew “Magnus” would go on to greatness with Karen. Regarding the third puppy, his owner sadly died shortly after getting him and it was hoped that one of his adult children would take him in. Therefore, I lost touch with him. I hope and pray that he did well, too. It’s funny how life is. Three men associated with this litter died at that time the litter was born. Mr. Ozeki, the father of Mai Ozeki Hirai, the owner of the third puppy, and my husband. But today, it feels like a lifetime ago. I had to sell our beautiful, spacious home and kennels at the top of the first ridge of the Watchung Mountain range in Mountainside, NJ, and downsize considerably on a small property at its base. Life is difficult, unpredictable and capricious. One must always be ready for what lies ahead, for the most unexpected. At least I was able to keep all my borzoi, then when they died, I was able to get Jelly from Fran, who wanted me to have her in 2010 when she was a puppy, shortly before my husband became ill.
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.
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, and it made so many people so happy. Then why am I weeping? As I often write on Facebook, “Tears……”
The good news of “Lucy” continues to be posted almost daily on Facebook. Lucy broke the record for the greatest number of BIS wins by a borzoi in early July (2017), however in subsequent shows she is entered in, she often wins again. So, I applaud and congratulate her, and her benefactors who make this nearly unprecedented campaign possible. She is deserving in every way. A fake or phony flashy dog could never sustain a string of wins so long. So long a list of judges could never be compiled to agree without consensus that she represents the best of the borzoi standard. She is the real thing, a dog that does not come along very often, in any breed. Following are some very recent photos taken this month.
I wish I could have kept her sire and had the resources to campaign him and breed him with Karen, instead of having to give him up as I did, and then she deciding to sell him. But we cannot second guess destiny. If I kept him, or if Karen had not sold him, there may never have been a “Lucy” borzoi, but then again, there could have been……
We can only dream, but the outcome of this version is the one we have, and there are enough accolades in it to go around to everybody involved.
As readers of Blyss Blog know, when my late husband and I co-owned Mikhailya with Karen Staudt-Cartabona of Majenkir Borzoi,(N5), she was co-bred to Karen’s stud dog at the time, CD BISS, MBISS, Regal By Design, “Regal”, who had proven himself to be both a great show dog and stud dog. The litter was born on December 8, 2008. It marks one of the happiest moments of my life. Mikailya presented us with three male puppies, all beautiful; but one particularly outstanding that I named “Magnus”! I told Karen in an email later that day, “He is the kind of dog you like to take into the ring! He is destined for greatness.”
Later, after some time, Karen had the opportunity to sell this Boy to Belisarius Kennels in Japan where borzoi are highly valued. Mai Ozeki purchased him in place of her father, who had recently died. It was love at first sight for each of them. Magnus made her very happy. He won many honors, including Best in Shows. Then, his get went on to win, too. One bitch, named Lucy, was co-owned by a family in the USA. They put her out with a handler, and Lucy went on to win enormous success as Blyss Blog Encore has reported generously. Yes, Lucy won Reserved Best in Show at Westminster Kennel Cub in 2016, and three months later, Lucy won the Borzoi Club of America National Specialty Show in Kansas City, KS. She was then taken out with the handler, Valerie Nunes-Atkinson for another year. She won the breed again at Westminster in 2017, but not the Group. She skipped the Borzoi National Specialty in 2017, leaving that venue to her son, Vinto who, sadly, did not place. He is a special now but still very young. He showed himself beautifully well though, and he will be a winner like his mother after taking some time to grow up. Our mentor, Karen Staudt-Cartabona won this show again this year with another bitch she co-owns, this time with Karen and Dr. Howard Spey from the Veterans Classs.
Lucy was being shown out west, but shortly after the National Specialty Show, she was moved toward the south where, of all things, she was being shown with Valerie. There, she won her 20, then 21, then 22nd Best in Shows! These wins were all in a day’s work for Lucy and Valerie, but they made Borzoi breed history. For, by winning BIS 21, she tied a world record of BISs held by a borzoi that was 83 years old, held by Vigow of Romanov, owned by Louis Murr. She then won her 22nd Best in Show this week surpassing his record. Everyone in the breed who is on Facebook is thrilled! She is worthy of all accolades and praises.
Lucy is a beautiful borzoi bitch in every way; I can swear I see Mikhailya in her face! Lucy has brought me, in my tiniest of kennels, a notable accomplishment. I saw and had faith in Mikhailya’s wonderful qualities and wanted her to be bred so they could live on in the borzoi gene pool, and now they can! Having lost my beloved Opal in which I had so much faith and optimism, it was important to me to give Mikhailya that chance.
Like so many Mays before, this is the time for the borzoi clubs in the area to hold their specialty shows. This is also the first weekend that there are dog shows held outdoors. It gives me a good reason to get away from home, even if they are a long distance away and the weather is not predicted to be its best. Nothing can really take away the excitement of being in Tinicum Park in Erwinna, PA, when it is full of dogs and their exhibitors. It brings back many memories for me, including one of showing Opal when she was a puppy. She even won her class!
I used to find out in advance when this show was held years before we had our borzoi and I even knew Bob by finding the dog show schedules published in Dog World Magazine, (I did not know about the AKC Gazette then). I would set out by myself when I was in my thirties to attend this show, that being the Bucks County Kennel Club Show. I also attended the Hunterdon County Kennel Club Show held on the Flemington Fair Grounds off Rt. 31, NJ. That has long since been sold and paved over and the dog show moved to a sight off Rt. 29 in Ringos nearby. But the Bucks County Kennel Club Show remains where it has traditionally been held.
I knew that all the doors into the dog show ring were closed to me. There was no obvious way to me how one got from one side of the ring (outside) to the other side of the ring (inside). You knew your place by some unwritten text, and you followed it. Everyone was always very nice and smiled at you as they walked their dogs to and fro but you knew you were always an observer, as if you were at the theater watching a well performed play. I always bought a catalog, which helped it make more sense to me, being so rich in information as it was. Still, I was a single, working girl, and had no time or means to buy a show dog, nor would I know what to do with it if I had the wits to even buy one. Eventually, I began to feel acutely lonely at dog shows and stopped going as often. I married Bob in 2000 and he had no interest in acquiring a show dog whatsoever. However, in 2002, we were offered an opportunity to enter the dog show world with a male borzoi named Casanova. His breeder, N-23, was looking for a show home for him. Without even thinking, we said yes. That was how it happened.
It was then I learned that a person is sponsored or invited to join breed clubs. It is usually by the breeder of the first show dog you acquire. That is how we were able to participate in dog shows; it was through the kindness and generosity of “Casanova’s” breeder helping us to become members of the Borzoi Club of Central New Jersey, a membership that I hold to this day, and I consider a great honor. That is how a person meets breeders with whom to make friends and purchases high quality show dogs to get started. We did it that way and it brought us great joy. We achieved many wonderful accomplishments from our endeavors. It was more challenging and expensive than we thought, and it included a heartbreaking tragedy, but we never would have turned that opportunity down. My only regret is all the years I lost by not knowing how to break into the dog show world sooner. I probably would not have had a borzoi, but a terrier breed. I adored terriers but our opportunity came with a borzoi. My husband did not care for terriers, so I did not look back. I became enchanted with borzoi then, as was he, and now I cannot imagine having any other breed of dog.
Mikhailya and Opal Ringside, January 2008
We were a happy family. The story of our kennel and how it grew is on the Blyss Kennels website (www.blysskennels.us) for all to enjoy. My only regret is losing Opal from a devastating illness as a youngster. Also, there were challenges and problems raising Tresor”, our pick puppy from our only home bred litter. However, his littermate, “Magnus”, made up for that. He was taken as pick puppy by the co-breeder, N-5, and he turned out to be one of the best international show-dogs and producers in many, many years. She sold him to Belisarius Kennels in Japan, he went on to sire the magnificent all-time show-bitch, “Lucy” of whom we are all proud. And our “Mikhailya” was the bitch who started it all:
“Lucy”, the grand-daughter of our bitch, “Mikhailha”, and “Tresor’s” niece, went on to become one of the greatest show borzoi ever in history in 2016 – 2017. She won Best of Breed twice at Westminster; in 2016 she won Reserve Best in Show at Westminster; in 2016 in April she won the Borzoi National Specialty Show; and in 2017 she won the Breed again at Westminster and Group 4 in Hounds; but became the Number 1 Hound in America, a first time achievement for a borzoi. In a few weeks, she will be entered in the Borzoi Club of America National Specialty Show for the second time. She won the show last year. It would be so exciting to see her win again.
Although some things do not always work out as you plan, and that is very difficult to accept, other things happen that are beyond your wildest imaginings. One may receive the worst of heartaches but the greatest of joys by loving dogs and having a show kennel.
However, nothing was worse than losing Bob suddenly in 2011. It required me to sell our special house that we had that was so perfect for our borzoi, and I had to place Tresor in a loving home. In 2012, I downsized in a comfotable home nearby with Mikhailya, Casanova and Paris. Much has been written about this on the Blog and the website. One by one, my beautiful borzoi succumbed to old age and died. However, in February 2015, I bought a beautiful retired show bitch, “Jelly”, from a dear friend, the breeder, N-24.
Then unexpectedly, five months later, “Tresor” came home to me, after four years of living with another family. By getting him back, I felt blessed and vindicated for so much that had gone wrong in my life. Having him back was like being given a great gift. I was so happy I had a house of my own, with a well fenced back yard to offer him. I felt I made up to him something I had taken away – my presence and my love. It was inconceivable to me that I had placed him. Fate left me with no choice. I was and still am very grateful to his family that had him for four years and cared for him so well, but even more grateful that he is back home with me and he is mine.
A great deal of what I have written today is looking back. I don’t know what made me do this today, and perhaps it is not a good idea to do it as much as I do. I am often told to look ahead. There are many things I do not like to reminisce about. However, when I look back on my dogs: their lives, their stories, my life with them, their spirits that feel so alive here with me, I feel as if I am sharing a contemporary story. For me, it is a story rich in memory and I cannot escape it, for it envelopes me. I miss them all so much, every day. By reminiscing about them, I feel their spirits close to me, as they were when they were alive! It is the thing that gives me the strength, that kind of strength I need that is so basic It is the strength that enables me to get out of my bed in the morning, to put one foot in front of the other, and have enough energy to get me thorough the whole day ahead as I am alone…..except that they – Jelly and Tresor – and even all the others that went before – are there!
This time of year, early November, one cannot look away for long and not see the spectacular beauty of the mountain along which Mountainside is located. And, a large part of the town is stretched out along the bottom, so one cannot help but notice as the town’s people go about to and fro performing their life’s work, they feel surrounded by a wall of forest behind them or that they can look up to, a wall that changes colors with such consistency and accuracy you can base your life on it. Moreover, contemplating the constancy of the mountain, I always recall the following words:
“I lift my eyes up into the hills, for from there comes my help!” Psalms 1:1
We are just now, in early November, somewhat past the peak of fall foliage, however I want to comment how lovely a season it has been and how grateful I have been for that. When driving around along many of the town’s roads or on the highway that cuts across the town at the southern point, US Highway (Rt.) 22, you are driving parallel with the mountain. There are three main roads that take you from Rt. 22 through the town and into the mountain with the preserved forest at the top, “Watchung Reservation”. They are Summit Road, Central Avenue, and New Providence Road, like Rt. 22, ancient roads. These days, Blyss Kennels today is located in the vestiges of an old farming neighborhood on Central Avenue. My house, built in 1920, is a small cottage along side a large field giving the impression that it is my own front yard. It is not, alas. Many photographs of myself with my borzois have been taken in this bucolic setting perpetrating this illusion shamelessly. It is worth mentioning because I have a strong sense of place, and I believe my borzois, those currently living and those deceased, are and always have been happy here.
Moreover, I know it now with certitude, my borzois are happiest with me and me alone. We do not need anyone else. Oh yes, sometimes I may want a dog-sitter or another dog-walker for them from time to time. Otherwise, I am sufficient. And I have come to realize I only want them, with their perfect love; their pure love; them and God. We need no other. Yes, like the wild meadow fields that one comes upon hiking in the Watchung Reservation, the land formerly cultivated for corn and other crops, my field is a spectacular beauty here at home, enjoying it together with them.
“……Even though the moment passed me by I still can’t turn away.” Goo Goo Dolls. Name.
How interesting it is that when contemplating the beauty of nature, even a relatively small mountain in a suburban community, how much one learns about oneself if they take the time to consider it’s presence and beauty.
Coda. I may have the misfortune of outliving my “field” while living here if it is sold to developers. Its owner died two years ago and his heirs want to sell it. I can’t do anything about that and I don’t have the means to purchase it myself.
Tomorrow, Saturday, October 1, 2016, is the date of the Morris & Essex Kennel Club Match Show with ancillary events including Meet the Breeds.
This year it is being held near to the site of its original grounds, The Dog Field in Madison! These were the grounds of the former estate of Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge, 1892 – 1973. She was a great dog fancier in her time and established the Morris and Essex Kennel Club. Some of the grandeur of her day will be revitalized in tomorrow’s events in Madison, NJ, where she resided. My main borzoi breed club, Borzoi Club of Central New Jersey, will be holding a Match and hosting a Meet the Breeds there tomorrow. It should be great fun. Hoping the weather holds out, meaning, hoping it does not rain. Sadly, I will not be bringing any dogs. How I wish I could bring Tresor. He is a wonderful ambassador for his breed, as was his great dam, “Mikhailya”, however he is too dog dominant to be around so many other dogs and would make a grand fool of himself and embarrass both his mistress and co-breeder.