Category Archives: Town Life

Wisdom gleaned from writers I’ve read

I came late to dogs, although I loved them passionately all my life and owned several.  When I say “I came late to dogs”, I am referring to purchasing pedigree dogs from reputable breeders, being involved with the sport of AKC conformation, and being an active member in several kinds of dog clubs.

I was fifty, a time that I saw would be “for me”, my childhood having ended precipitously in my parent’s home and adult life and responsibilities commenced soon after.  My parents took great care not to “spoil” their children, and to only “kiss them when they sleep”.  It was a childhood with virtually no memories at all, and it just blended into an adult life of harder work.  I did not complain. Yet, I dreamed of someday living as I wished, with some land well fenced so my dogs and perhaps even horses had a place to safely run.

It did not quite turn out that way, dreams never do.   With time and hard work, my life came as close to that reality as possible and I am pleased to say I have come rather close.  I established Blyss Kennels on the first ridge of the Watchung Mountains in Mountainside, NJ, near the Watchung Reservation.   Then and there, my imagination created what I lacked.  Looking back today, I see them all in a long line of beautiful borzoi, they form a crystal clear vision of beauty: Casanova, Mikhailya, Paris, Opal, and Ebony.  Then there were  Mikhailya’s three puppies, Tresor, Magnus and Zephyrus.  And then at the end after my husband’s premature death, Casanova, Mikhailya, and Paris moved with me to a much smaller house nearby.  Interestingly, I never noticed until after I moved into the house that the property next door consisted of a very large tract of land that was undeveloped and kept as a beautiful field, as if it were a part of my very own property.  I felt as if my dogs and  I had arrived home.

Almost fifteen years later, I look back upon my dogs and what I have learned.  Coming late to the table, I partake the wisdom of others and I found I have learned so much.   One good thing about belonging to so many breed clubs is you get to attend meeting and thus be among the breeders.  From there, you only have to listen, and eventually they talk about their dogs and what is happening in their kennels.  If you are patient and listen well, you find there is much you can learn.  But I read a great deal too.  Following are some of the writers who taught me a great deal.

One favorite author of mine who had the self discipline to be a prolific and detailed author about dog training and his favorite breed was Richard Wolters.  He wrote passionately about the Labrador Retriever and left the world one of the most beautiful dog books ever published, The Labrador Retriever, the history….the people.  (Los Angeles: Petersen Prints. 1981).  I have a first edition.    A reproduction of a painting of a black Labrador carrying a duck in its mouth adorns the cover, and it gets better with the turning of every page.  It is a walk through history along a different byway, through the eyes of those who love the Lab.  I am blessed to be among those people.

Another writer who was pivotal in helping me understand the sport of AKC conformation, who tied together so many seemingly disparate facts and parts of the dog listed in each breeds’ standard, so many that they seemed incomprehensible to me, and brought me to clarity was Richard Beauchamp, a great AKC judge.  I am speaking of his book, Solving the Mysteries of Breed Type (2008).  Solving the mysteries it did.  And answering that ever elusive question to me of “What is ‘Breed Type’?”  What does “typey” mean in a dog?    Or, how does a Group judge judge a group, or a Best in Show Judge select the winning dog?  The book answered those questions for me forever, or at least helped me sit ringside and understand what was happening on the other side of the ring.  Anyone who reads  Blyss Blog or Blyss Blog Encore knows that sitting ringside is something I enjoy immensely.  Richard Beauchamp is a huge part of the reason for that.  Because of him, I know what I am looking at.

A fiction writer with a different approach who was also a breeder under the affix “Sunnybank”, known for its literary famous collies, especially “Lad”, was Albert Payson Terhune or Pompton Lakes, New Jersey.  He was a prolific writer as most people know but he also wrote a great deal of letters and non-fiction.   I have the pleasure of being a member of an organization that is committed to the preservation of Sunnybank and celebrates the memory of Terhune and his collies through an annual “Gathering”.  The organization publishes a quarterly newsletter and I had the pleasure of receiving mine this week.  I was drawn to read it today.  I discovered the issue was devoted to a most important topic:  puppies.   (The Lookout, Spring/Summer 2015, p.16.)  Here is what he has written:  “…Show me a breeder who can pick them out, infallibly, at an early age; and he can name his own salary to act as consultant at my Sunnybank collie kennels.  I am safe in saying that.  For such a man is not born yet.  Or else, he died the day before I was born.  It is all a gorgeous gamble, this breeding of pedigreed dogs.  Therein lies its lure.  When our prophecies come true, it is fun to boast.  When they fail – which is oftener – silence is very golden indeed”.

So yes, I was very blessed to have known these three men, all now sadly deceased, however I had the wisdom to seek them out through their books.  I know nothing can make up for my lost decades, the childhood spent alone and lonely, isolated for inane punishments for imaginary deeds in my parents’ unhappiness together.  Much comes from the unhappiness of others, and their severities pushed me inward toward myself where my imagination created an imaginary world where a dog was my best friend.    Decades later, I would begin to live out those fantasies, and as I could, do so more and more until I found my first borzoi, Casanova, whose story is told on

http://blysskennels.us/our-dogs/casanova/index.html

Tomorrow morning I am leaving for Huron, Ohio to attend the Borzoi Club of America’s National Specialty Show.  I will be going out with Jelly’s breeder, and we will be showing her two new puppies, the male and the female, Jezebel and  Hunter, who are Jelly’s half-brother and half-sister.  They are both exquisite borzoi puppies with a great deal of promise.  They will be shown in Futurity, Sweepstakes, and Regular classes.  It will be hard work all week, ring time is 8:00 AM, and I am not a “morning person”.  But I will be all next week because of the pups and the early ring time.  There is nothing like being ringside when your own puppies are in the ring!

 

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Another new Blyss day,or I should be lonely because Jelly is away

Today, I woke up to a new week.   However, it has a different feel from the days of last week.  In one way, I am happier because the intense volatility of  the significant relationship in my life has settled into a pleasing point along the happiness continuum of my mind.  I am truly grateful that I am with someone  I can truly trust and love.  Also, I have some free time because Jelly is away with her co-breeder and handler, N3, about whom I have written previously.   She is handling Jelly in local area shows for me.  In mid-May, we will be traveling together to Huron, Ohio to the Borzoi Club of America’s (BCOA) Annual National Specialty Show and N3 will be handling Jelly for me there, too, in the Best of Breed class.  I will be especially proud that day to be sitting ring side knowing that it is Jelly’s turn to participate in this prestigious show.

However, I want to use this time well that Jelly is away to catch up on things that I have let slide.  It’s easy to do that when you have dogs around because their needs are so immediate.  You can say I have only one dog, Jelly, however I have been spending time with her breeder and owner of her dam, N24.  When I am at her home, I get to enjoy time with not only Jelly but Jelly’s beautiful dam, her dam’s littermate, and two six-month old very promising puppies.  Being in the company of so many beautiful, sweet borzoi imparts such joy to me.  N24 will be showing these puppies beginning this week and they will be shown at the BCOA Specialty Show in Ohio.  In addition to taking Jelly there, we will have the two puppies as well.   The litter is Futurity nominated so will be in the ring for the very first class, Tuesday afternoon.  I am so excited about going and being there it makes me breathless.

I am not endowed with sufficient funds necessary to campaign these dogs as they deserve to be.  However, the future is before me and I like to think that anything can happen and a situation can change.  Perhaps I can co-own one of these puppies, and together N24 and I can campaign them.  There might be a way.  I feel optimistic.  I feel a great swell in my heart for them whenever I see them, spend time with them or watch them play together.   My Jelly plays with them endlessly as if she were the ever-patient, all loving dam.  You do not see that much canine compassion to that degree for another bitch’s puppies, even one’s own puppies, very often.  In my own Mikhailya litter, Mikhailya was through with her puppies when she weaned them, although she always loved and recognized them.  It was our beloved Blyss Paris who took right over to raise them, and eventually be the teacher and companion Tresor so badly needed.  I see Jelly doing that with N24’s puppies, and it is a beautiful thing to watch.  N24 and I can watch the play and banter all day.  She is very lucky to have these two developing borzoi from her litter and I wish her all the best of luck for success.  I think they are both outstanding.  The photo below shows us relaxing together at her home admiring Jelly.

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All too familiar visits by unwelcome thoughts

“I know nothing of days of the week…weeks of the year.”  Charles Dickens.

“The song remains the same”.  Led Zeppelin

It really does not matter what I do today, who I am with or what beloved gifts I may receive, even if it is a treasure such as my beautiful Jelly, they do not keep away the demons that consume me, barely hidden beneath the surface, lurking here, there to ruin everything I try to be and do.

It does not matter who they are, or how many people I know.  Nothing and no one can rid me of the terror of isolation with which I live most intimately.   Even on a good day, and among friends, it is always a step or two behind, or within reach of sound.  It reminds me of its presence, but how can I forget?   I never do.

I wondered out loud  at my mother’s funeral last November, or so I was told, that “we will be back here again soon, only that time  it will be mine.”  Was this a prescient foreshadowing?  After this weekend, the long sleep of death seems like a welcome relief.

It would be so much better to go in the opposite way of these ideas and  distance myself from these voices, but they draw me in with their seductive feel-good words of truth – for me.

Today I have had an unusually difficult day.    I have been emotionally  battered to abuse by people I trust and love the most.    I only wanted to go to a dog show but the usual pleasure of a day spent immersed with borzoi and their owners eluded me.   Then the weather changed unexpectedly and it started to snow.  I dealt with it by myself.  I know, I should be able to do that.

Later on, I wanted to talk on the phone to a close friend, but that person denied me that simple satisfaction.    At the end of the day, nothing worked out.  The rhythmic unrelenting voices speak to punish me for my pain, perpetuating it onward.  In the end, there was only Jelly to be there for me, though poor companion that I was for her.

 

A Blyss Poem, poetry again at Blyss

It’s cold outside …. the snow is deep but my heart is warm and at peace.

And though many months may stand between me and the summer’s

Blessed shore my faith sustains me to its distant destination.

 

My errors behind my humanity haunt me. Yet

‘Though they may pave the ever new miles with contrary directional signs

No one knows exactly where I go. So I step aside and fool them by and by.

 

Where love is given in full measure solitary though I may be today and

Solitary though I may be forever, Silent, cold, effervescent, quivering with life

An empty hand is always visible, open for what will be my tomorrow.

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I have learned sadly that life is not all about me.  My concerns pale next to those of others whom I know even casually.  It is wrong for me to care so much about myself.  This is a lesson I am coming to learn late in life.   I can only try to think less about myself, to reach out more, to give more, to be more to others, even if they do not ask.    I see the flaws of others around me but instead of being repulsed I wonder why, or how they came to be that way and I feel only compassion.   I know they  must suffer, and perhaps a great deal more than me.

And she said, “Dare to hope!”

At lonely during the holiday times like these I cling to the words I heard spoken in an affirmation at my church, “Dare to hope”!

I attended the Christmas Eve evening service there, at the UCS, and enjoyed singing all of the carols, listening to the readings, and holding the lit candles. It’s nice to be taken back to a simpler time of faith when such things were absolutes and comforting. I let them do that for me this time. I felt I needed that. I don’t want to think too hard about things these days, but just let the waves of life roll over me as best they can to comfort me.   I find life too painful to contemplate now and I want to steer clear of such thoughts called contradictions. Living without the joy my borzoi would bring is also hard, but it a wonderful goal to see at the end of a difficult time.

For now, the most I can dare to hope for is my new borzoi, “Jelly”.  I hope I can live up to her expectations of me.

A Christmas Wish at Blyss, still without a Borzoi

Another day, no week, no month…..year….. and still I wait…. Wait for I don’t know, that special email message in my in-box, or a message in my voice-mail, or a person even, yes, ringing at my door.  That’s it that special person. I always find the ones for whom I am their special one and they get the benefit not me. But for me, my very own special one to trust guiding the rudder of my life.   Moreover,  I am his because we are one and the same.  We are best of friends from the start, without any fake “tests”, or “games” or “pretenses”, or evaluations as hard to score over 800 as on the GREs or LSATS.   For those kinds of men, I never get the job! But truth be told, I have never met this person nor has he met me.

” And if I did, I wouldn’t tell them your name!”  (Goo Goo Dolls, Name).

“Scars are souvenirs you never lose, the past is never far.”  (Goo Goo Dolls, Name).

And because my life is so banal that there is a place in it called Blyss Kennels.  In cyberspace, there is also Blyss Blog Encore, to read about the kennel and my life in it.   There is soon to be a new borzoi  named “Jelly”, a four year old bitch, a finished champion whose owner said she can come to Blyss.  She is of the Majenkir style, and very much to my taste in every way, outward appearance and temperament.   Addressing a current health problem is keeping me from having her here now because I want to wait until I am available to spend time freely with her at home.  I am looking forward to doing many things with her.  I also look forward very much to having her to write about instead of the stale topic of myself and my dull world, a lifeless, friendless world, especially without a borzoi.  Slowly, I am making some friends, but they usually center on my sister and a new woman who recently entered our lives whom we met through our late mother.  That’s it, no one else is trustworthy, I’m afraid.  It’s a small and tight circle.  Jelly will have her designated space in it marked with a star.