VIDEO: McHenry woman, dog to be featured on A&E show, ‘America’s Top Dog’

Allison Bilinski and Mac, an 8-year-old border collie, will make their TV debut Tuesday

McHenry woman Allison Bilinski’s dog, Mac, isn’t just a fierce competitor, he’s also “a ham” who soaked up the applause while competing on the current season of the A&E show “America’s Top Dog,” Bilinski said.

Bilinski and her 8-year-old border collie will make their TV debut at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 6, in season 2 of the show.

Each hourlong episode features dogs and their handlers facing off on a canine obstacle course designed to test their speed, agility, teamwork and trust as they navigate a series of challenges over two rounds of competition, according to the network.

Although Bilinski intended to train Mac as a service dog for another owner, she came to find that he was better suited for the limelight.

“He would rather be out working every day or something,” Bilinski said. “He’s a very active dog, and he loves the challenge of learning new things and doing obstacles.”

Mac technically is retired. But during his younger years, he competed in Schutzhund – a sport typically reserved for German shepherds, not 33-pound border collies.

“He takes everything in stride,” Bilinski said. “He’s a very cool dog.”

One of Mac’s toughest obstacles off the course, however, was waiting patiently while the other dogs had their fun.

“He doesn’t like to watch other dogs work. He thinks that he should be the only dog out there doing anything,” Bilinski said. “He gets very jealous when he has to watch other dogs having fun and it’s his turn to sit out. That’s what he struggles with the most.”

This season, the dogs will be pitted against another competitor in their class for head-to-head matches. Those classes include working dogs, police K-9s and “underdogs,” according to the network.

The winners of each class will face off to determine that week’s “top dog.” Each week, the winning team will receive a $10,000 cash prize, as well as an additional $5,000 to donate to the animal charity of their choice, according to the network.

In the final week of competition, the winning teams will return for a final battle for the title of “America’s Top Dog” and an additional $25,000.

“I think [Mac] loved every bit of it because it’s everything he likes to do,” Bilinski said. “He gets to run up things. He gets to climb things. He really enjoyed it.”

In the meantime, Mac will enjoy the fruits of retired life: long walks, dips in the lake and some much-deserved couch time.

“Just being with people, that’s really his favorite thing,” Bilinski said.

Katie Smith

Katie Smith

Katie has reported on the crime and courts beat for the Northwest Herald since 2017. She began her career with Shaw Media in 2015 at the Daily Chronicle in DeKalb, where she reported on the courts, city council, the local school board, and business.