|That Dog That Started It All
Unlike most Juniors, AnnMarie Lyons’ family did not have dogs when she was a child. Her father had once had a negative experience with a dog, and did not want the family to have dogs. However, AnnMarie had friends that competed in agility and conformation, and she found herself intrigued. In 1999, when she was twelve years old, AnnMarie was asked to pet sit for close family friends while they spent the summer in Europe. Their dog, Scooter was completely untrained, had behavioral issues, and lived in the backyard. However, AnnMarie saw potential; she spent the entire summer working with Scooter. She did research and read books to learn how to train dogs. Over the summer she was able to work around his behavioral problems and taught him basic obedience commands. She not only developed a close bond with Scooter, but she learned that she had a love and talent for training dogs.
A friend told AnnMarie she should take Scooter to agility practice, so AnnMarie asked the family if she could use Scooter full time for agility when they returned. Not only did they let her use him, but they let her co-own him. AnnMarie and Scooter began training in agility at Shooting Stars Dog Agility. The trainer there, Laura Yarbrough, saw AnnMarie’s potential and became AnnMarie’s agility mentor. AnnMarie is grateful and proud to have had Laura as a mentor because she was the first Junior that Laura had ever mentored.
In the beginning, Scooter did not do well in agility. He hated all of the contact obstacles and refused them. AnnMarie was beginning to think that agility just was not a fit for Scooter when she discovered some old stitches from when Scooter had been neutered that had never been removed. She immediately had her vet remove the stitches. All along, they had been irritating Scooter, making it uncomfortable for him to do the contact obstacles. After they were removed, he became a great agility dog who had very few faulted runs. The two became a close pair and their hard work paid off. At the 2002 Sheltie Nationals, they placed first in both events in which they competed. AnnMarie also competed at the United States Dog Agility Association’s (USDAA) world championship in 2001, 2002, and 2003. Scooter and AnnMarie’s greatest accomplishment was finishing 9th in the 2002 finals, beating many top agility competitors.
Although Scooter is now retired, AnnMarie is still very much involved with agility. Her current agility dog, Nike, is a 4-year-old Border Collie. She currently competes in both AKC and USDAA agility events and is becoming more involved in obedience and conformation. She now regularly volunteers at agility events and would like to get certified to judge agility in the future. AnnMarie also trains dogs for others. Some breeds she has worked with are: American Eskimo Dogs, Chinese Crested, Shetland Sheepdogs, Border Collies, and she currently has a client with several American Pit Bull Terriers. She also teaches puppy agility classes.
AnnMarie is a recent graduate of Texas Tech University with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with concentrations in marketing and management. She also has a minor in animal science. Recently, she got a job in a research and testing lab that conducts pathogen and biofilm research where she handles the business operations. Her new job is a good fit because she has an interest in the medical field, but has a business background. She hopes to gain valuable experience from this job that will one day allow her to pursue a career that involves animal-based research.
Even though she was not born into a dog family, through hard work AnnMarie has become both a talented trainer and competitor in agility. However, she could not have gotten where she is today without the dog that started it all: Scooter. It may have seemed unlikely that either she or Scooter would ever be top agility competitors, but through their special bond, both excelled. Without each other, neither would have had a chance to shine in the agility ring.