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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
I was in my late fifties when I got to breed my first litter, the litter that produced Magnus and Tresor. It turned out to be notable for its greatness. The quality went deep, so deep that N5 bred and showed Magnus, and then sold him to a high quality kennel in Japan. There he made a huge mark of outstanding quality both as a show dog and a producer. It was Magnus who sired Lucy.
I do not want to make this message about Magnus today, but for private reasons he is particularly on my mind. The spotlight shines brightly on his puppy, Lucy, and deservedly so. Lucy is still being campaigned, and is winning even more Best in Shows. This is after she broke an 83 year record for number of Best in Shows by a borzoi by winning 22 Best in Shows in July, defeating Vigow of Romanoff’s untouchable record, and being the Number One Hound in America. But I am not surprised.
Magnus was my rising star in that litter. I called it when he was born, and I told 5N when I gave him to her. I knew he was destined for greatness as soon as I saw him. I wrote those very words to her that night in an email describing Mikhailya’s puppies. So, tonight I am nostalgic for my puppies, all three Boys, my only litter. I have come full circle, for I know well they are senior dogs now, and slowly each in their own way, slipping not through my fingers but life itself. I may reach out and try to grasp each of them, sometimes one more than another, one I sent away and it came home after four years, one that M5 sold to the kennel in Japan, and another that M5 sold and lost to destiny. Yet, they are all reaching their respective endpoints of life and I want to hold them very close to me while I can.
Behind the scenes, a subject about which I do not write, I support the Borzoi Club of Central New Jersey, my primary, local area breed club. My mentor, N5, has been the president for the past two years, during which the membership has rapidly increased. Many of the new members are borzoi or puppy borzoi buyers of hers. A club has more resources when the number of members grow. Our meetings are still held at the lovely home of N36, rather centrally located, and this too enormously ads to the enjoyment of the meetings. Several weeks ago, the Club held its B Match, and two couples stepped forward and said they were interested in joining. This is truly great news for the club.
Next Saturday, September 9, 2017, is the Specialty Show for the Club. It is held with Somerset Hills Kennel Club’s point show. I know this year, all of the major breeders have puppies to show, as well as their still outstanding veterans. The class dogs are expected to be exciting, too. We are hoping for perfect weather.
I am particularly happy that new people are joining the Club, people who are younger than most of us. We need younger members to keep it running. That seems to be the scenario with many breed clubs. Many members are in their 70s……. then a large number are in their 60s…. and 50s….. Where are the youth, I ask? There are not many. If you took away the young handlers at dog shows, it would look like a geriatric day out in the park.
It was the day of the B Match for Borzoi Club of Central New Jersey, August 6, 2017. I was not showing a borzoi and did not bring any of mine for demonstration. I would have liked to, but it would have meant keeping Tresor home alone for a longer time than I would have wished.
It was so nice being with my Club members, people who truly are friends of mine and with whom I feel collegial. People come and go at shows. Since I had to miss the last Club meeting in June due to a conflict with Plainfield Kennel Club, it had been a long time since I had seen anyone. To my surprise, two separate households had acquired new borzoi. I was and am so happy for them. What joy!
To an almost unusual degree, several people seemed to want to talk to me a lot. I know people missed me from the last meeting I missed, and I tried to catch up with those who were interested in me, and I them. The day was running along in a socially supportive and positive way and I was very pleased.
I had the occasion to speak with a dear couple I know whose borzoi passed away last year under the saddest of circumstances. I tried to be supportive and sympathetic. This story still hurts me to think of, due to its senselessness. Unfortunately, the dog did not have to die but no one really is the culprit. It comes down to how to live with and manage borzois. How does it work best? How to make the borzoi happy? What if you chose to do otherwise and brush aside good, sound advice? Sadly, it will result in a sad or sick borzoi, or a very neurotic borzoi, a borzoi that cannot be a normal borzoi, which is determined by its genes.
My son, Graham, lives in the East Village of NY City. He tells me there are all kinds of dog breeds living in the city, including borzoi. Breeders who, 20 years ago, would never sell a borzoi to someone who lives in an apartment now do so. It can be done, I suppose, but it requires a lot of extra care on the part of the owner socializing and exercising it. In that way, a borzoi is a high maintenance breed. I have a hard time with Tresor and Jelly living in a suburb however I make it work. Fortunately I live near many open fields and a preserved forest park, Watchung Reservation. It has several very large open fields and a network of hiking trails.
Due to my age, I am beyond being able to do much hiking anymore, so I take Jelly to the Scouting Field in Watchung Reservation, where local people drop by in the evening and if their dog is well behaved, they are allowed to run and play off leash. Jelly is allowed to come here and has other relationships with both people and dogs whom she has met there. However, due to his great strength, I can no longer walk Tresor on a leash, so he is confined to the back yard unless one of his dog walkers is available to take him for a leash walk. I wish it were otherwise, but it is what it is for him. I do my best. Life goes on. I find myself saying a lot, “If I were 20 years younger…..”
And no, I don’t think I will be getting a borzoi puppy any time soon.
On Sunday, August 6, 2017, the Borzoi Club of Central New Jersey held its B Match in Colonial Park, in Somerset NJ during the morning, followed by a generous luncheon under the pavilion for all to enjoy.
The Match was somewhat a surprise for me, bringing out some new members for the first time with their borzoi and their family members, and new puppies that had been acquired by members that were totally new to me. It was at the point that I felt I should go over to N5, my mentor, and ask her to select one of her youngsters for me! Surely, I was missing out!