Home to Beautiful Borzois in the Watchung Mountains in Mountainside, New Jersey

Memorializing Opal

Opal: Raynbo Opalesque at Blyss died at nineteen months of age. Simply put, by dying so young, Opal was cheated out of her place in the great Majenkir bloodline into which she was born and cheated out of the role she was destined to contribute to it.  For example, with such giants behind her as Ch. Majenkir My Way, her maternal-great-grandsire, Majenkir Mirabella, her maternal grand-dam who pre-deceased her by only one day and lead her the way to Heaven, National MBISS Majenkir Raynbo Dazzle SC, her dam, and the great foundation stud dog of Majenkir Kennels, Ch. Majenkir Sverkai Snow Stag, their contributions of greatness that created Opal ended in Opal's death. Therefore, any contribution Opal could have made to the Majenkir line  was destroyed with her life's end.  Moreover, Opal's name will never appear in a list of new borzoi champions or a BCOA Yearbook.  Opal  will never know the whelping box, and for that, her name will never appear on a pedigree.  Opal was so undeserving of the fate destiny meant for her, an outrage, nothing less than a grand larceny of a life, it is we, those who loved her most, who owe her honor and memory, to try to balance the scale in her favor.

We deeply grieve not just for ourselves but for all she lost just for being a dog, pure and simple: a dog that loved life so much and gave love back to in full measure. By dying so very young, she broke her mistress's heart, and saddened all who knew her by dying so, although she could not help that. We all succumbed to the depths of complicated grief for our loss of Opal, the one dog who was so dear and special, as I wrote in her memorial announcement on July 7, 2006: "the light of our life, the heart of our home." For we have lost that - it is gone, all gone with her to ashes. We want to remember her - as if we can ever forget ~ and so we memorialize Opal.

We have memorialized Opal in many ways. The Memorial at the link on this website is her official memorial. It was posted at Borzoi News and Borzoi-L listservs the evening she died at 10:00 PM, Friday, July 7, 2006.

The photographic portrait or Opal as a puppy on our website was taken by Maxine Bochnia of Digi-Art at the New Brunswick Kennel Club dog show in Edison, NJ in March 2005. We are grateful to Maxine for capturing the essence of Opal as a puppy in her beautiful photograph, especially her distinctive eyes, those "luminous pools of light", as described by my friend, Elaine Earlywine. We are especially grateful to Maxine for the gift of the .JPG file of Opal's photograph and allowing us to use it on our website and to place ads in the borzoi publications, when I informed her that Opal had died.  We have placed memorial ads in the upcoming Fall issues of Borzoi Connection, and Borzoi Digest using the photo and the poem I wrote, "Opal's Prayer".

Every year, Barbara Yoon is the Trophy Chair for the BCOA Specialty, and in this role, solicits donations for them. I have contacted her to let her know that we shall be donating a trophy for a puppy class in Opal's honor and memory every year. We have already made the donation for the 2007 BCOA Specialty in Warwick, Rhode Island.

Other ways of memorializing and honoring Opal have been more private. In particular, there was the simple outpouring of support and condolences we received. Many people contacted us when they read about Opal's death on the listserves. Some were people we knew personally, some were people we knew through the listservs or BCOA, and others were people we did  not know at all but were moved to contact us. People whose messages were particularly kind were Rebecca Peters-Campbell, the first to arrive. Following were Joy Windle, Barb Ewing, Helen Lee, Fred Edlin, Melanie Richards, and Mary Moran-Richter, all of whom offered their hearts along with useful advice and support to me. All commented on remembering Opal from seeing her at shows, and commented how lovely she was, and how sweet. All expressed their sorrow to us in the kindest of ways. How many ways the heart can break! 

After Opal died, Dr. Scott Witham, of Westfield Veterinary Group, Westfield, NJ, Opal's veterinarian, wrote us a personal letter expressing his sorrow, that I know had been considerable, and it was truly heartfelt. He stated not only how sorry he was to have lost her, but that "it was an honor to treat Opal." 

In August, we received a letter from St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center in Madison, NJ informing us that the Westfield Veterinary Group had made a donation in honor of Opal. Bob and I were very moved by this. We wrote them a thank you letter, and in it, I said, ...

"Opal was a dog with a kind and gentle spirit. Because of your gift, another animal will be helped. If she were alive and could understand, she would be very pleased."

We have commissioned a piece of art to be created in ceramic tile by a woman who works in this medium, Susan Alvord, in Boise Idaho. It is based on the photographic portrait of Opal by Maxine Bochnia. It will depict Opal embraced in a celestial scene, surrounded by clouds and doves, looking peaceful and happy in her resting place, Heaven.

Shortly after Opal died, I was fortunate to find a white porcelain figurine from Czechoslovakia that had a very strong resemblance to Opal. It was being sold on Ebay in July as part of a fund-raiser auction for Borzoi Rescue of Northern California by Nancy Joeckle, whom I know through the Borzoi listserv. I thought it was a worthy cause, so I allowed myself to bid generously on the figurine. I had the good fortune not only to win it, but upon receipt, I was surprised to find a very lovely figurine, twice the size I thought it would be. The porcelain borzoi is all white with a certain delicate expression, like Opal's. It surpassed my expectation in beauty and quality. I keep in on my bedroom dresser in memory of Opal.

Opal's section of the Blyss Kennel website comprises a large part of her memorial. We are sure there will be other additions over time as ideas or stories occur to us. It is our hope that we can write about our lives  with Opal, either in essays, poetry, or stories. We have no doubt she will come alive for us and find a way to  express herself artistically because she is so alive in our hearts and minds.

Opal and Lorene

A few weeks after Opal died, Bob showed me a photograph he had taken of Opal and me that I had never seen. We had gone to Wolf Head Lodge in the Poconos to meet Roni and Jennifer Zucker for lunch. We had all brought dogs along with us so we could take informal photos of the dogs in a natural setting. I remember, it was Opal's first birthday, October 21, 2005. It was a cool, bright, and sunny autumn day. In the photograph, Opal and I are together side-by-side. I am kneeling and my arm is around her shoulders, and she appears to be leaning into me. Above us is an expanse of blue sky, and behind us, a wall of trees. The leaves had turned their autumn hues:  golden, bright orange and red. The most striking feature about this photograph is the expression of the subjects, both the dog and the woman, side by side, look so happy to be together. Another reason that it is such an important photo is because Opal would never live to see her second birthday.  I keep a copy of it on my bedroom dresser and in my office where I can see it every day. This photograph is also in Opal's Photo Album on her website.

There is yet another picture of Opal and me worthy of mention. It was taken on December 26, 2004 at the Zucker's house when she was just eight weeks old. That was the special day when Bob and I first met Opal in the kennel at Raynbo. After putting Opal in my arms, Jennifer had said we could bring the puppy into the house. Opal  was very tiny. In that photo, I am holding her in my arms as I stand next to their Christmas tree. I know it is not a great photograph, but it is a  special one in the way that captures how happy I am in it. I am happy because I am holding Opal, the puppy that was destined to be ours, and sadly, unknown to me then, destined to die young. This photograph is also displayed on my bedroom dresser next to the figurine. It is also in Opal's Photo Album on her website.

Baby Opal

All of this: the well-wishes of friends, letters of condolences, the ceramic tile picture, the BCOA Specialty Trophy, the figurine, the photographs, and the website, all honor and  memorialize Opal.

Finally, Bob and I are grateful to all of the well wishers who have supported us through this most difficult time, and to all of those people who shared with us how much they, too, admired and loved Opal. These are the best ways to honor and memorialize Opal: 

Raynbo Opalesque at Blyss
October 21, 2004 - July 7, 2006
"May we meet again, Dearest Little One!"

Lorene Connolly, August 26, 2006