Lisa Kaye Nelson explores the great lawn at Belvedere, Tarrytown, New York Fall, 1963

Lisa Nelson Peterson explores the great lawn at Belvedere, Tarrytown, New York Fall, 1963

Born in Sleepy Hollow, New York, Lisa Peterson grew up along the Hudson River on an estate filled with architecture, art and ephemera reflecting the tales of Washington Irving and the early Dutch Settlers. She is the granddaughter of a chauffeur who came of age driving the very rich throughout New York City, Westchester County and Oyster Bay, Long Island in the 1920s.  

Her early childhood memories were filled with her grandfather’s stories of  society weddings, bootlegging trips from Canada, and driving captains of industry’s wives to West Palm Beach,  Florida. But his favorite tales came from his childhood, growing up on the Meriwether estate in Pocantico Hills, next door neighbor to Kykuit, home of the Rockefeller family. David Meriwether Milton, a direct descendent of Meriwether Lewis, of Lewis & Clark fame, named the family homestead after his famous namesake. 

Peterson grew up on the fabled ‘Zeeview’ estate, built in the late 1920s by noted Western art collector Dr. Philip Gillett Cole. Peterson spent her young days playing alone among wisteria-filled rock gardens, the orchard, stable, carriage house and dog kennel. By now, her grandfather had become the superintendent of the estate, whose name was changed to ‘Belvedere’ when the Bronfman family moved in. Her favorite place to play – behind estate gates – was in the children’s playhouse next to the lake complete with a replica of the bridge where the headless horseman chased down Ichabod Crane.  

Behind Estate Gates - The entrance to Belvedere (formerly Zeeview)

Behind Estate Gates – The entrance to Belvedere (formerly Zeeview)

Just like her grandfather played with young Miltons and Rockefellers, she would swim and play with the young scions visiting for the summer and  watch them ride horses at the Sleepy Hollow Country Club. Her grandfather’s last chauffeur job was to take Lisa to Sunday school at the Union Church in Pocantico Hills. A church built and attended by the Rockefeller family. 

At eight-years-old Lisa’s parents moved to Connecticut where she continued her love affair with horses. After learning to ride at summer camp, her parents bought her a chestnut pony named Gingersnap. This spirited filly taught her to show horses, fox hunt and fall off!  At 16, her grandmother bought her that special  first horse. Speculation was a handsome 16.2H Bay 7/8 Thoroughbred, who was her constant companion for 23 years. With Spec, she earned her hunt colors with the Fairfield County Hounds and showed in the junior and adult hunter and equitation divisions. She likes to tell people her relationship with Spec lasted longer than any job,  friendship or marriage! 

As a young adult Lisa embarked upon a career of showing and breeding purebred dogs, specifically Norwegian Elkhounds. Her kennel – Elvemel Norwegian Elkhounds – reflect generations of sound, healthy champions that have won numerous awards at National Specialty shows in the US and Canada. An AKC dog show judge she has officiated at the Norwegian Elkhound Association of America Futurity/Maturity and the Norwegian Elkhound Club of the Potomac Valley puppy and veterans sweepstakes. She continued to share her knowledge of horses by teaching horseback riding at several hunter/jumper show stables and at the horsemanship program at Post University.  She remains active today showing in the adult jumper and equitation divisions and trail riding. 

Peterson’s professional career started as a journalist as a cub reporter at The Newtown Bee, right out of college, covering cops, courts and crime, including the infamous ‘Woodchipper Murder’ case. She continued her crime reporting at The Hour, Norwalk’s daily newspaper. As a freelancer, her articles and columns have appeared in USA Today, Connecticut Magazine, Connecticut Horse Magazine, AKC Family Dog and FoxNews.com. 

From 2004-2015, as a communications director at the American Kennel Club, she made hundreds of guest appearances on television and radio, including the Today Show, The O’Reilly Factor, Fox & Friends, Fox Business Network, Good Morning America, Martha Stewart Living, and NPR as a canine expert on responsible dog ownership, pet safety, breed trends, legislation, breeding and showing dogs. In addition, she has won the Public Relations Society of America “Big Apple” award for her campaign “Protect Your Pet From Theft” in 2008 and as spokesperson for the “A Dog For Obama” campaign in 2009 as well as the Dog Writer’s Association of America “Best Podcast” as host of “Pick of the Litter” in 2012 & 2013. 

Lisa and her husband Ray share their Newtown, Connecticut home with their current pack of Norwegian Elkhounds, Jinx, Linx, and Adele. 

Contact her at:  



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3 thoughts on “About

  1. Lisa this is really fun and interesting to read! Sounds like you have continued to have a fascinating life!
    One quick correction….Gillett is spelled without the ‘e’ at the end. The razor blade family is the ‘e’ 🙂 Hope you got my emil sent to both you and Barbara Worden? It will be fun to exchange photos and stories 🙂

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