I have been very busy these days after months of lethargy and depression catching up with work that had been put aside. When the weather become warm, I want to start gardening and taking care of the lawn outdoors. I need to be very disciplined however I can be most tempted to stray when a film I truly love comes on the schedule for Turner Classic Movies. Last night, when I should have been sleeping, the movie scheduled was among my top 5, Splendor in the Grass, directed by Elia Kazan, starring a very young Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty, made in 1961. Another lifetime ago, I may add. I know I can write volumes about this movie and why Iike it so much, but now is not the time. I will say, even having seen it a dozen times, each viewing is as new and raw and shocking as was the first time. It is difficult to watch the growing pains of two young people who love each other trying to do the right thing while everyone around them is acting badly and the world as they know it is undergoing profound social changes, even in the Nebraska heartland. And yes, it is excruciatingly painful to watch them as they come undone and become unrecognizable people from whom they were at the beginning of the story. Together, once so close, they launch their adult lives in such different places, determined not to think much about happiness anymore, and say a simple good by before setting off apart.
As actors, the careers of Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty exploded with stardom and success, including Oscars. It is always a joy to watch their films, each one so different yet rewarding. They talents are boundless. Natalie was taken far too prematurely with a tragedy that defied all logic, as if it were part of the plot of the movie she was making. It never added up to me…… But the death of a great movie star usually does not. They never really die. The movies and the stars I love so much share my heart with the dogs and the horse I have loved so much. I am so grateful for the technology that enables us to watch, rent or stream virtually any movie we want to watch almost anytime for a very small amount of money. They are my companions in my loneliness.
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. So, 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 others. 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. Such 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”.
Every day to live with Mikhailya was a gift. Mikhailya was a once in a lifetime dog. My husband, whom she adored the most, died prematurely and was taken suddenly from us. 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 the biggest regret of my life.
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 w.as 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.
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 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.
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……”
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.
Yesterday, my club, Borzoi Club of Central New Jersey, held a Supported Entry at the New Brunswick Kennel Club show at the New Jersey Convention Center in Edison, NJ. We got 22 borzoi to enter, and it included Sweepstakes classes. Many long time showing friends from the club and the nearby clubs were there, showing their new puppies. Jelly’s breeder was supposed to be there but changed her mind at the last minute and stayed home. I was disappointed to lose the chance to see her but she has invited me to come up again another day.
There were those surprise conversations one finds they are having with others at a dog show that really stand out. A woman and I, a woman whom I respect and whom I have seen so many times, actually took the time to have a brief conversation that proved to be very profound. She knew all about Tresor and his recent death. She told me she thought he was one of most spectacular borzoi she had ever seen. That was a huge complement coming from her. She works for Karen (Mikhailya’s breeder, & my litter’s co-breeder). It’s interesting how dog people in the category of peers or friends say things like that to me, but from the breeders, there is a wall of silence. Even about Magnus and Lucy. Like it never even happened. I guess that is how they feel about me a lot of the time: Oh, her, like she never even happened.
When Tresor took his last breath, the last puff of happiness left my life and it is not coming back any time soon. My Tre, My Boy, My Heart, My Love. How could you go and leave me here without you?
It is bad enough an 8 1/2 year littermate of Tresor’s, Magnus, died in August. Recently, one of Jelly’s littermates, “Giselle”, died, breaking her owners heart. Because I do the Sunshine role for Borzoi Club of Central New Jersey, I sent her owner, a member, a sympathy card. Although it was several weeks ago, she called me sometime in the last day or two. I just received the voicemail message. Although she is devastated, she expressed her condolences to me for my loss of Tresor. Following is my response. I hope it helps her.
I hope you are doing well. I wanted to acknowledge that I received your voicemail. Thank you for reaching out to me. Like yourself, my heart is broken. Tresor was from the only litter I will ever get to breed. He was a rare, unique dog for me, one I will love forever and always grieve for. Sadly, their time with us is brief so when they go they take our broken hearts with them. Let’s try to find joy in the borzoi they have left behind.
A few weeks ago, I sent a note to a very prominent man in the breed, the former Governor of Region I, Borzoi Club of America, and told him I had lost Tresor. He is now the new President of the Borzoi Club of America. He took the time out to write back to me. The correspondence follows.
Dear R—, I just thought, as a friend, I wanted to let you know I had to let my boy, Tresor, go the other day. He presented with an abdominal hematoma and at nine years of age the vet felt he would not do well with surgical intervention & would not be buying very much time if he survived an operation.
Of course I feel horrible since we only got to breed one litter & he was our only dog from it. Sometimes I wonder how we do what we do when the pain of losing them is so great. But we do it for love….at least I do. Bob & I loved him so much and we never doubted his love for us in return. Tresor was a great dog to own & love.
I’m sorry to hear your sad news. Yes, it is a wonder we do what we do. That’s why we shower them with love while we have them.
Try and enjoy the holidays and cherish the memories.
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.