Stephanie Howe Violett and her husband, Zach, knew they wanted to get a dog they could run with, but they weren’t entirely sure what breed would be best for the long-distance running they do on the trails around Bend, Ore. They’re both ultrarunners who regularly log long hours on the trails—as long as 5 hours or 30 miles at a time.
They did some research and they liked what they had learned about English Pointers. The saw a post on Craigslist from a dog owner who couldn’t handle all of their puppies, so for $20 Stephanie and Zach wound up with an English Pointer/black Labrador mix they named Riley.
“He was the cutest thing ever, so we jumped right in and we got him at 6 weeks,” Stephanie recalls.
They still didn’t know if Riley would become a good ultra-distance running partner, nor did they take him to the trails until he was a year old. After the first couple of shorter runs, they started taking him on almost every run and gradually his endurance increased.
“We don’t do ‘normal people’ runs, so he learned pretty quickly how to get used to the trails,” Stephanie says. “He kind of adopted the ultrarunner lifestyle on the fly. And he loves it. He’s become my favorite training partner.”
When Stephanie or Zach take him out for a run, they’ve always made sure he has plenty of water—either from fresh, flowing streams or from their own hydration packs. But they learned the hard way last winter when Riley bonked a bit after a long run in the snow.
“It was the worst thing ever,” Stephanie says. “He was having a blast romping through the snow but we realized we didn’t give him any food and he just bonked. He started teetering toward the end and Zach had to carry him back to the car. He was so wiped out.”
Lately they’ve made sure to carry plenty of snacks for Riley, including the energy treats known as Glyo-Gen Bones made from maltodextrin, whey and by a local veterinarian.
“I think the key is to train your dog well,” Howe Violett says. “I love dogs, but I don’t love when someone else’s dog runs at me and jumps on me when I’m running. So I think teaching them commands and rewarding them with treats and being consistent is super important. And also keeping in mind that they seem invincible, they will break down at some point. You have to make sure they have food and water.”