From Peds to Paws: A Doctor’s Unusual Career Transformation

Dr. Nancy Tang had been a successful pediatrician for 30 years, the last nine of which she spent at Towne Pediatrics in Leesburg. She loved her patients and practicing medicine, but was quickly growing weary of the changing medical landscape and the impact that the move to electronic medical records would have on her career.

Rather than spending one-on-one time with her patients, she and others in her field were finding themselves filling out mandated administrative forms.

So, she decided to hang up her stethoscope. But she doesn’t plan on retiring anytime soon.

“I am lucky enough that I have this other passion for something else, and I feel lucky because a lot of people don’t have that,” Tang said. “This is my chance to really pursue something and take a huge risk.”

That huge risk is the start of her own dog training company, Fun Fit Fido, which focuses on instilling family pet skills in man’s best friend. It’s a change that’s been “decades in the making,” Tang said, owing to her years spent in Doberman rescue, as well as more recently training service dogs for Veterans Moving Forward.

Although she had a family dog whom she loved as a child, the passion for dogs really began when Tang finished her medical training.

“I finished my residency, bought a townhouse, put up a fence, and got a dog,” she said.

That dog, a Westie named Casper, is where it all began, she said. She would later become involved in Doberman rescue and realized she “wanted to have a dog that really enjoyed the obedience training side of it,” making Dobermans an excellent choice. She loved the training aspect, but grew weary of participating in obedience competitions. Her decade-plus spent in Doberman rescue and foster gave her an opportunity to help train the dogs to be “a good member of the family so that dog spends the rest of its life with the family.”

“That’s where the passion comes from,” she said.

Four years ago, she became involved in raising and training service dogs for Veterans Moving Forward. She has had one Labrador graduate already, and is currently working with her second.

“The way they train these dogs really fine-tuned my own training techniques,” she said. “It’s all positive. We use a lot of treats. These dogs love training and working. It’s all fun and games; there’s no forcing, no coercion. I don’t do or say anything to a dog that I wouldn’t say to child.”

“It’s easier because you can give a dog hot dogs,” she said with a laugh.

Tang launched Fun Fit Fido in February, and has also been serving as a part-time day school trainer at Dog Day Afternoon in Leesburg since the spring. She has finished her office hours at Towne Pediatrics, but will be doing hospital rounds through the end of August. But come September, Fun Fit Fido will be her full-time gig.

Her focus at Fun Fit Fido is much the same as it was in training rescue or service dogs: to make the dog a good member of the family. This can include walking nicely on a leash, and basic commands like sit, stay, and come. In addition to running her new company, she has also begun working with the Save the Trails rescue to help train recently adopted dogs. Tang also recently brought home a new dog, a Jack Russell Terrier named Watson, and is also training service dog No. 2, Kirby.

Looking back on her medical career, Tang says she already wakes up in the morning and feels that “something’s missing.”

“The stress,” she said.

But it’s a trade she’s willing to make. She’s glad she was able to leave her field at the top of her game and focus her second career on her love of dogs and making them exceptional family pets.

Trading her beloved two-legged patients for four-legged ones, many of them puppies, she has a simple, rhetorical question.

“What could be more fun?”

For more information or to contact Fun Fit Fido, email fun.fit.fido@gmail.com.

krodriguez@loudounnow.com

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