Erica Upham started a dog-running (walking when it is too hot) business: Photo by Kim Leeson

For several years, White Rock-area resident Erica Upham has spent a large chunk of her time exercising, as one must when aiming to qualify for (or preparing to compete in) the world’s most famous footrace, the Boston Marathon. Training for marathons while working full time and managing life’s daily responsibilities is doable but difficult. Upham, who possesses both an entrepreneurial and animal-loving spirit, figured out a way to do it all — run regularly, spend quality time with her dogs and other fleet-footed training partners, and earn a respectable income.

Until a few months ago, Upham worked at University of Texas at Dallas in the career center, where she gave students advice about their resumes and interviewing skills. “It was cool to see them go off to do things they love to do,” she says. Unfortunately, she was not as enthusiastic about her own career.

A few weeks after her May 31 wedding, she set up a website for Out of the Kennel, hoping to get a few pet-related jobs here and there. Having done plenty of unpaid pet sitting for friends and family, she knew she would enjoy the work.

“I thought it would be a hobby,” she says. But it quickly became difficult to manage everything. She received an offer for another position at UT-Dallas. When she didn’t feel particularly excited about the opportunity, “that was a real clue” that she should think about following her dream, she says. After just a few weeks in business, Upham quit her job to devote all her time to Out of the Kennel. With her wedding paid for and no big financial responsibilities on the horizon, she says, “I thought, it’s now or never … It was a great time to take a risk.”

Among other services, she offers dog running for pets that need a little more exercise than a standard walk (except when it is too hot). Upham has been a runner since she was in the ninth grade. She’s run six marathons — the most recent was fast enough to gain her entry into the 2015 Boston Marathon. She trains with the Dallas Running Club two days a week, and the responsibility of running with her high-energy canine clients motivates her the rest of the time, she says.

“I love dogs. I love the outdoors, running and walking,” she says. She also appreciates her clientele: “Everyone I work with is a huge animal lover.”

Her own canine family — Samson the schnoodle and Winston the Airedale terrier — have it good at the Upham house. “We treat our dogs like children,” she says. “We even make food and dog treats for them.”

So today Upham is among those lucky people who love their jobs. “Being around dogs and cats is so enjoyable,” she says, “I don’t feel like I’m working.”

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