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Competitor Profile:  Lisa Anne Zilney and Tennessen

A profile of Title Mania competitor Lisa Zilney and her dog Tennessen.


Lisa Zilney decided to enter Title Mania back in June with the main goal of earning her Agility Dog title with her young Border Collie, Tennessen. They needed two Standard legs and one Jumpers leg to accomplish this goal and Title Mania was the perfect place to accomplish this goal.

It was only their second USDAA competition together, so a secondary goal for them to see how focused Tennessen would be in a new place, a large venue, lots of competitors and plenty of distractions.

"Not only did I have a wonderful time at Title Mania," Lisa remembered, "Tennessen exceeded all my expectations!"

Tennessen not only earned his AD title, he also went home with three gold medals for being the Top Starters Dog in Standard, Jumpers and Gamblers!

Lisa says, "I could not have been more proud of him!"

Even though this was Lisa and Tennessen's first big event together, Lisa is no stranger to USDAA. She and her Norwegian Elkhound, Anna, are the most accomplished of their breed in USDAA history! Lisa and Anna earned their Agility Dog Champion title in the very competitive 22-inch jump height.

They are currently working on her Performance Dog Champion and Lifetime Achievement Award Silver before Anna retires.

Besides Tennessen and Anna, Lisa also lives with Parker, another Norwegian Elkhound. All three dogs are rescues. Tennessen found Lisa at the Glen Highland Farm Border Collie Rescue in upstate New York when he was four-months-old.

Whether it's pouncing on toys like he's a fox or spinning around with his jolly ball like he's in a rodeo, Tennessen makes Lisa laugh every single day. Tennessen has also helped Lisa advance her handling skills. Since he is a much faster and larger dog, they are learning new things together. Lisa is grateful for such a wonderful partner who is willing to please and work. Hes a true joy to work with!

Anna came from the national Norwegian Elkhound rescue at five-months-old and is the one who hooked Lisa into agility. She was so mischievous as a puppy, Lisa thought agility might calm some of the naughtiness. It did and they both love the game!

Anna is stubborn, independent and talented. She can sniff and jump or sniff and weave at the same time. She has always been an honest dog and compensated for Lisa's errors while they learned together. And Anna has rarely ever dropped a bar.

Parker is seven-and-a-half years old and was rescued from Craigs' List when he was about six months old. Hip dysplasia prevented him from competing, but Parker is an old soul who loves to nap and always enjoys a nice breeze when it blows through his fur. He is the perfect complement to the pack!

When Lisa started agility with Anna, it was agility, agility, agility and more agility. It wasn't until Anna needed some time off to recover and rehab from a back injury that Lisa realized in hindsight her dogs needed more diversity in activities and time off between competitions. So Anna and Lisa took up barn hunt.

When Tennessen joined the pack, Lisa made sure he had other activities to enjoy to minimize injury and maximize fun. Right from the start, Tennessen has been doing herding and competed in his first trial this past spring.

In fact, before going to Title Mania, Lisa and her pack took a vacation to visit family in Ontario, Canada. She didn't do any special training leading up to the event. Lisa recalls, "I trust our team has the skills we need, so we spent our time hiking and relaxing."

Lisa loves the bond agility creates between her and her dogs, and she's thrilled to be competing in USDAA with two amazing dogs. Each are very different and present different training challenges, but through agility, Lisa has formed incredible bonds with her dogs she never experienced before.

When Lisa isn't training, competing or visiting family, she's an Associate Professor of Justice Studies in New Jersey.


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