Becoming a Beyond the Dog Trainer – Abby’s Story

The condensed version of how I got here to Beyond the Dog, is that I initially in college wasn’t set on what I wanted to do. I was leaning toward working with either exotics or canine rehab and so I went to Southwestern University in Georgetown Texas for their Animal Behavior Program.

I always knew I wanted to work with animals. I know a lot of people do and then are not sure what options are out there, other than becoming a veterinarian. To explore other options relating to animals, I applied for every internship, every committee, every opportunity, to see what was the right fit for me. I had to work with animals to explore the field and get a feel for what specific route I’d like to approach for my career. Some of the opportunities included the Animal Behavior Society, the Austin Reptile Ranch, and various veterinarian hospitals and research labs. I was even presented the opportunity at SU to have dinner and meet Jane Goodall, the primatologist which was an absolute dream!

Abby Schumacher

My senior year, I applied for an internship with the Houston Zoo in the primate department, I interviewed, and was one of 3 selected out of hundreds of candidates. That was my first real foot in the door. This was my first experience with true training techniques. I stood alongside trainers as they taught signs and specified to cue behaviors which would assist with rotation/shifting schedules (recall and release) and for medication delivery purposes. General enrichment was one of my favorite parts about this job.

Beyond School

I was then hired full time at TGR Exotics in Spring, Texas. I oversaw over 100 species of animals, including kangaroos and buffalo, Indian Crested-porcupines, Hyenas, Black Bears, Emus, and of course more primates. I target trained the Warthog piglet and “Step up” with the Toucan. We also worked on training larger species of birds and target training with the primates for rotation. Ultimately after a year of working two jobs, I realized no matter how much I loved my job, making a living was something I had to do.

I left and went into the medical sales field. After three years of sales, I was successful but unhappy. I needed to work with animals and nothing would stop me from finding a job that I could be passionate about again. I knew I could find the right career where I could love my job and make a living.

After nostalgically looking online, I found the post for Beyond the Dog and applied immediately. Boom, a month later I was working with Beyond the Dog and I will never look back. I loved being a keeper, but the room for growth and stability this job provides me is something unlike many in this “field” of work. I love how this job challenges me daily, but I enjoy this challenge, and every new case builds my abilities as a trainer and I’m thankful I found this career!

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