As the change of season approaches this September, we are excited to celebrate the 3 year anniversary of our close friend and Hillside Lead Kennel Technician, Lynda Zellner! Find out about Lynda’s hand in helping Hillside K9 Academy come to fruition, and how she came to be one of our most important family members.
Although originally from New Mexico, Lynda Zellner is as much an Arizonan Native as anyone around. After falling in love with the Northern Arizona landscapes and culture, Lynda's family put down roots here in the Verde Valley in 1972. Since childhood Lynda has lived in rural Camp Verde, and has never had an urge to leave.
In her adult Life, Lynda has made it a point to surround her with animals. For 20 years, she owned and operated an established Camp Verde grooming business, and developed strong ties with local dog owners from all walks of life. She gained the respect of her peers two and four legged alike, and although life has thrown her curve balls, her path has never wavered. After nearly two decades in the canine business, Lynda retired from entrepreneurship in 2005 to pursue a long-creeping passion: dog agility.
“I developed a taste for agility training after falling in love with the Australian Cattle Dog Breed. They are very high energy and work-driven dogs, with quick minds. Many people who own cattle dogs find them to be overwhelming, but really, they just need a job to do. Working agility really works out well for high energy dogs of any breed, as it keeps their mind stimulated and helps keep their bodies in shape.”
Lynda’s drive for agility training never showed signs of slowing, and she mastered the art quickly. Not much time passed before her home in Camp Verde developed into a full blown training facility as she added more and more equipment to her property. As soon as Lynda realized that this driven interest of hers was not going to pass, she invested in her first Aussie dog, Willow. It became apparent that this investment paid off as the two of them moved on to win countless ribbons and several titles in shows across the four corners.
Lynda’s accomplishments did not stop there, however, as her reputation began to spread. Soon members of the community began bringing their high-energy pups to her for training. “Ziva was my most memorable pupil. She and Willow often competed and received ribbons side by side. They became fast friends, and her owner and I still love taking them hiking and swimming together. They always have a blast.”
After Willow’s accomplished retirement from competition, Lynda’s next canine investment came in the form of JD. “I worked with JD for a few years, and he showed great promise!” Unfortunately, life had other plans, when JD developed hip Dysplasia, and was not able to enter into competitions. “I don’t think he minds his early retirement. He really enjoys being the spoiled baby of the family, and still gets plenty of exercise on the property.”
Lynda’s next pupils arrived in the form of Cleopatra Diamond, and Cheyenne. “Cheyenne is my youngest dog. She has been great, and is already beginning to compete at just 3 years old. Cleo is a rescue Cattle dog and still has a bit to go, but I am working with her diligently and have high hopes.”
To supplement her agility training, Lynda began work at Montezuma Veterinary Clinic as a kennel technician. There she met Shawn and Jennifer Tucker, who were regular clients. Lynda connected with Shawn through their shared passion for training, and the three of them became close friends. Shawn had many local training and boarding clients and was beginning to run out of room on their property. Thankfully Lynda offered her training course, which began their professional working relationship.
In September of 2015, Lynda left her position at Montezuma Veterinarian, and reached out to Shawn and Jennifer, who had opened the Hillside facilities nearby just a few years before. They were excited to bring Lynda, with her canine expertise, into the family, and have been so happy to work with her these last 3 years.
These days, when Lynda isn’t working with the other Kennel Techs at Hillside Canine Resort & Spa, she continues her work with Cheyenne and Cleo, and still trains many dogs in the community, often going as far as volunteering for field trips with Hillside clients like Casey, an Irish Setter who needed a bit of socializing. “When Casey’s mom was in town, we would take him down to the creek with my other dogs, and have loved seeing him grow and learn by example. He has come a long way, and adds to my daily drive to help our community of four legged friends!”
If you see Lynda during your next visit to the Hillside Facilities, feel free to say "Hi!" This spotlight, along with all of our September specials, event announcements, and more fun tid bits will be featured in our Monthly Newsletter. Not a subscriber? Sign up on our Facebook page!