Q&A: Joy Windle

The Borzoi enthusiast dotes on her favorite dogs and advocates support of the breed.

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Coatesville’s Joy Windle with one of her BorzoisThe Zoistory Editors have published two collections of stories on their unique breed of sighthound, the Borzoi. They won the Arthur Frederick Jones Award for Excellence from the Purebred Alliance of Writers for 2007’s Being Borzoi. This February, they were finalists for another award from the New York Dog Writers Association of America for their second volume, 2008’s Forever Borzoi. Coatesville’s Joy Windle, a member of the Borzoi Club of the Delaware Valley, is the group’s editor-in-chief and project manager. In all, she’s owned nine Borzoi, eight Scottish Deerhounds and two Whippets.

MLT: How rare is the Borzoi?
There are 10,000 in all of North America, and just 1,000 Scottish Deerhounds on the continent. By comparison, 10,000 poodles and Labrador retrievers are registered each month by the American Kennel Club.

MLT: What distinguishes your two breeds?
Both are sighthounds and ancient breeds known for extraordinary sight. Their long, narrow muzzles work fine, but they have the best eyesight in the dog world. Because of all the open terrain in places like Russia, these desert dogs could see movement a long way away.

MLT: What sparked the Borzoi book projects?
Our founder, Gloria Smith, was a member of a Borzoi news list that linked owners and breeders all over the world. There were so many stories, so she suggested they would make a neat book. There was this treasure trove of stories that just needed cobbling into shape.

MLT: What training did you have as an editor?
I taught English and theater classes for 33 years in the West Chester Area School District. When I retired from Stetson Middle School in 2003, I spent two years volunteering in the library, helping with its reading program. I didn’t necessarily intend to become the editor-in-chief of our project; it just seemed like I had the best credentials.

MLT: Who was your first Borzoi?
Bari was a rescue. He came from a student’s family. I was advising the yearbook, and one of my staffers was wearing a T-shirt that said, “Team Red and Rugay.” I asked who they were. She said, “Our dogs.” Well, that shirt changed my life. One day, her mother delivered yearbook pages to school—and brought their foster, Bari. She’d been found nearly starved to death near Marsh Creek off Route 100 in Eagle. That was 30 years ago last October. Of course, no one can have just one Borzoi. They’re like potato chips.

MLT: A week after adopting Bari, you had her at a field trial, where you also saw your first Scottish Deerhound.
That’s the day I skipped my brother’s wedding reception to do a test run trial with the dog everyone else thought looked weird.

MLT: How would you describe the books?
They’re such great bathroom books, because they’re all individual stories—and on the shorter side. My favorite stories are about the rescues. They can break your heart.

MLT: Are the Zoistory Editors meeting your goals with the publishing projects?
We don’t hope to make Borzoi more popular, but those who aren’t interested in the breed probably wouldn’t pick up the book anyway. We hope to make money for the National Borzoi Rescue Foundation because more and more people can’t keep their dogs, and we need to find homes for them. We need to be there for the people and the dogs. Most importantly, we’re telling the story of the Borzoi as a wonderful companion. But we’ve also raised $4,000 for the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation for research into Borzoi health concerns, with 1,000 copies of Being Borzoi and $2,000 so far for 500 copies of Forever Borzoi.

MLT: What’s next for the Zoistory Editors?
We’re looking to publish a third book with Chris Danker, a certified obedience trainer in Albany, N.Y., at Hemlock Hollow Farm. She brought a Borzoi pup, Melissa, home from Sweden last fall. She’s chronicling her socialization and training through her first birthday in a blog that we plan to turn into a book. Chris asked the NBRF if Zoistory could do the project because we’re a recognizable name; we’re trusted. We’ll start the book in late spring and have it ready by early summer 2011.

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