Annie Schottmuller (Instructor School Intern) – Minnesota

As an aspiring dog trainer, working the internship at TK9 was the best move I could have made. I knew I wanted to train dogs and started looking up dog training “schools” to find a place to get the experience and direction I was looking for. A visit to a school in California raised many red flags, other places seemed unreasonable with the high price tag and seemingly little actual hands on dog experience. I started communicating with Jerry about attending Tarheel Canine. The classes looked very interesting and the reviews were many and impressive. While I was taking a trip to D.C a friend and I decided to take a day trip to NC to meet with Jerry and visit the center. I told Jerry I was interested in the internship but would plan on being there in the fall for classes or as an intern. A week later I got an email saying I’d been selected to be an intern. Thus a course of my life was put into play that I never could have imagined on my own. My time at TK9 was hard. The days were long, I feel I earned every bit of the training I received.

Early mornings were spent cleaning dog kennels and caring for the dogs, followed by learning the obedience training (i.e training the obedience dogs), classroom lectures, more dog care, appointments with clients and lunch. The afternoon was a mix, the most fun was going out with handler courses or police dog trainers to work detection or trailing. I never knew sitting in the woods waiting for a dog to find you would be so fun. Many evenings were spent handling the bite dogs and being able to get into the suit and learn to decoy.

From my first day at TK9 I was handling the dogs, I remember being so surprised by the power and strength of a black German shepherd as his line was put into my hands and I was told how to help him learn to trail.

As I learned more I got more responsibility. By the time I left TK9 I was dealing with obedience clients on my own, training my own dogs, returning phone calls, assisting with the handler courses and handling my own drug detection dog and my own SAR dog. Although it was hard at the time, I’m so glad that I got to experience every facet of having a dog training business. I got to deal with the nice and the not so nice clients, train the easy and the hard dogs. I wanted to get my hands on as many dogs as possible and this internship encouraged me to do just that.

Possibly even bigger and more important then learning to train dogs were the people I met. I am so blessed to have been able to work under some AMAZING trainers and meet so many wonderful people. As an intern I not only trained the dogs but also trained many of the students coming through and had the opportunity to assist and attend seminars put on for police departments and even NASA. Tell me that doesn’t look great on a resume!

The relationships forged through this experience not only have built some lifelong friendships but have also lead to jobs, resources and an irreplaceable source of knowledge and wisdom to draw from whenever I need it. Even now as I venture out “on my own” I am never really on my own, I still have the support of Jerry and all the other amazing trainers I have met because of my internship. I will always have mentors and people able to teach more about dogs, people and running my own business and life.

The days were long and exhausting, there wasn’t time for anything but the internship, My husband was in Iraq for part of the internship and very understanding and supportive the rest of the time. 12-14 hour days 6-7 days a week can be hard on a relationship and I can’t fathom trying to do it with children. You must be ready to put everything you have into the internship, to eat, sleep and breathe dog training and everything that goes with it.

Annie Schottmuller