As a child I heard horrible stories about the Soviet Union and the Russian character. My elementary school, that held the town’s public library at the time, had a bomb shelter in the basement, where we would go when the Russians shot a nuclear bomb at New York City. Within a mile of my home, hidden in the very same park I described in my message about the encounters with Russians, was even a Nike Missile Base, special weapons the US Government had strategically placed around major cities and military installations to defend the country against an aircraft strike by Russia! I especially remember hearing that Russia would destroy America.
But that was the political and military side of the news. I always wondered about the people. Their life seemed so much harder there. Their extended period of serfdom long after the rest of Europe was free made them less modern and sophisticated in comparison to Western Europe. Between the long lines for food and fuel, the bitter cold, and the inclination to alcoholism, it created a life spent too fast. They endure much, they aged quickly, and they died young. I always remember being interested in Russia as a young girl and reading about it whenever I could.
Then, I remember seeing the movie, Doctor Zhivago, and I discovered Russian literature. From that novel, I grew to have an insight and understanding that most Americans never seemed to consider. Later, when I was about 25 years old, I saw my first borzoi as a brace as they walked onto the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City in American Ballet Theater’s production of Giselle. The effect of seeing those dogs was psychologically cataclysmic for me. They spoke of what was and what could be; that the past and the present could co-exist.
Since buying my first Borzoi, “Casanova”, Lara’s River of Dreams, in 2002, I have to confess to immersing myself in Russian history and culture. It has been immensely rewarding since everything else culturally fills me with ennui. One of my biggest regrets in life is that I have not traveled to Russia by now – and I am about 50 years old. It is a bitter regret and one I hope to correct before long. Is it true that the International Borzoi Congress is meeting in Moscow in two years? That will be the reason I need. Nothing will keep me away. Let those of us who hold Russian culture in a special place in our hearts go together to see the homeland of our beloved dogs and meet the very people who gave them to us. What better reason than that can there be?