The pup did the pose a couple of times before the one that Ande Edlund (’94 Hotel & Rest. Admin.) now refers to as The Hot Dog Incident.
The first, on August 9, 2016, garnered 113 likes on his dash.dog Instagram account, started not quite a year and half earlier. The second, on July 6, 2017, got 674.
The third went viral.
The close-up of the golden retriever wearing a bandana and ball cap while patiently holding a hot dog in his mouth at a Mariners game fetched 16,337 likes and thousands of new followers. Edlund posted the photo, snapped with his phone, on September 5, 2018, with the caption, “It’s Bark at the Park Night in Seattle!”
Edlund, recalling “the day Dash went famous,” wonders, “What’s better than hot dogs and baseball and dogs?”
He got a little help from another Mariners fan, who shot a video of Edlund taking the photo of Dash and the hot dog—and boosted the post’s popularity. The clip ended up on Good Morning America.
Within a week, Edlund says, Dash reached 10,000 followers. By the end of the month, his followers topped 27,000. And, in between, he made his first trip to Pullman, where people were already approaching Edlund and Dash, asking, “Hey, is this the hot-dog dog?”
Today, the beloved golden retriever has more than 36,000 Instagram followers and is recognized on walks, in taprooms, and at dog parks throughout the state. He’s been featured on Seattle’s KING5 News as well as in the Daily Evergreen student newspaper and Chinook yearbook. The Washington State University Alumni Association officially adopted Dash as an Honorary Cougar. He’s helped fill the stands at Martin Stadium during the pandemic with his own cardboard cutout. And he’s the only canine member of the mug club at the Coug.
Dash might be a dog, but he’s a Coug through and through.
“Dash supports most of the Seattle-area sports teams. He roots for the Mariners, the Seahawks, and is excited for the Kraken’s first season because hockey is played with sticks. He likes the Storm and the Sounders. But Dash’s favorite team,” Edlund says, “is the Cougars.”
Edlund, who lives in Redmond, got Dash in 2011 from a breeder in Snohomish after wanting a golden retriever most of his life. “When I was very young, our neighbors had a golden retriever,” he says, noting he dreamed of owning one himself ever since. “I love goldens. They’re the sweetest, funniest dogs.”
The day after he picked up Dash, Edlund brought the then-12-pound pup to triathlon practice, where he quickly became the team’s mascot. Edlund coaches for Team In Training, an athletic fundraising program for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
He got involved with TNT in 2006, a few years after hearing about it from a colleague who told him, “It’s so great. You swim. You bike. You run. You meet all these amazing people. And you fundraise for blood cancer research.”
Edlund signed up for his first triathlon, in San Francisco, the same year. At that time, “I didn’t have plans to do anything more than that first race. I didn’t consider myself athletic or anything.” In fact, he notes, “I was out of shape and looking for something that would require activity.”
Edlund hoped to finish that first race in under three and a half hours. But he started out with “a bad swim. I got turned around on the course and even swam in the wrong direction for a while.”
His parents, both WSU alumni, attended the race, carrying a WSU flag so he’ be able to spot them along the course. And, as he was headed into the gate at the finish line, “straight ahead was my dad, waving the flag,” Edlund says. “I just ran for it as hard as I could.”
He finished at three hours, twenty-nine minutes, and fifty-nine seconds—just barely making his goal. “I wouldn’t have hit it if my dad wasn’t waving the WSU flag,” Edlund says. “Seeing that made me go faster. We’re a Cougar family. Dad was a season ticketholder for years and a WSU Foundation supporter. My mom was the Alumni Association president from 1996 to 1997. I was raised a die-hard Coug.”
Edlund attended WSU Pullman from fall 1990 to spring 1994. His parents, Ann (Lindh) Edlund (’67 Ed.) and Eric Edlund (’66 Comm.), met as students at WSU. His younger brother, Arne Edlund (’97 Busi.) is a Coug, too.
Ann received the Alumni Achievement Award in 2001. Eric was a lifetime member of the WSU Alumni Association and Board of Trustees of the WSU Foundation.
Edlund stayed involved with TNT, and was soon training for half marathons, Half Ironman triathlons, and even full-distance Ironman races. He also began coaching teammates in addition to fundraising.
Edlund had been posting photos of Dash to his personal Facebook page since the golden retriever was a pup, and they always got a good response. In 2015, a WSU classmate suggested starting an Instagram account for Dash. Edlund hadn’t heard of that particular social media platform. His first dash.dog Instagram post, shared on April 19, 2015, featured Dash and a beer. It got 38 likes.
Edlund started Dash’s account for fun and “to be creative. I like to write and share stories, and thought it would be fun to explore the world from a dog’s perspective,” he says, noting he uses the camera on his phone to snap most of the photos. “I’ve never taken a photography class. I’m just kind of self-taught.”
Edlund also saw opportunity to “use Dash’s ‘voice’ for good.” In November 2016, he began selling a Dash wall calendar to friends, with the proceeds benefitting LLS. Now, it’s an annual tradition.
Each year, LLS receives a few highly sought-after entries into the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. In 2019, Edlund says, “I was one of five athletes selected nationally to represent LLS in the race, which was a tremendous honor.”
Edlund raced in honor of his dad, who died of renal cell carcinoma in 2011, and grandfather, who died of blood cancer in 1983. It’s a 2.4-mile ocean swim followed by a 112-mile bike ride through a lava desert and up a mountain, then a 26.2-mile marathon.
As a tribute to his dad, Edlund made plans to carry the WSU flag across the finish line in Hawaii. “One of my teammates met me near mile 20 of the run course with the flag. He carried the flag for about 5 miles, before handing it off to me for the last mile. The aid station volunteers were yelling ‘Go Cougs’ as we passed through.”
Edlund completed the grueling race in 14 hours, 30 minutes, and 23 seconds. “I’m pretty sure no one else has ever crossed the finish line of the World Championship with a Coug flag,” he says. “Many athletes finish with their national flag, but I think I’ve been the only one to represent the Coug Nation on that stage.”
At the end of their Ironman campaign, Team Dash raised more than $113,000 to fight blood cancer.
Dash’s Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts are all written from the dog’s point of view. They typically discuss the things that would interest a dog: squirrels, treats, dog parks, hot dogs, chasing sticks, catching balls, rolling in the grass.
Other posts congratulate graduating Coug seniors, salute men and women in the armed forces, protest family separation by U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, show support for LGTBQ+ equality, champion the Black Lives Matter movement, and help raise funds to support charities.
Throughout the pandemic, Edlund, who has had a long career in the food-service industry, has continued his athletic training as well as sharing Dash’s adventures on social media. See Dash on a pier, in the pool, at the beach, in the lake, at the pub, in the snow, at the dog park, in the mountains, at some of Edlund’s races, and dressed for Halloween. As a lion. A pirate. Chewbacca. Gardner Minshew.
Many posts show Dash holding something in his mouth. Hot dogs, of course. But also burgers, bagels, doughnuts, dog treats, packs of Cracker Jack, even a whole roast duck for the Lunar New Year. “Some people are concerned that Dash’s diet is mostly hot dogs, but he doesn’t get to eat everything he holds in his mouth,” Edlund explains. “He might get a taste or a nibble, but most often he gets a dog treat for being patient.”
There are also images of Dash posing against iconic Pacific Northwest backdrops including the Space Needle, Pacific Science Center, Pike Place Market, the Waiting for the Interurban sculpture in Seattle, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Gum Wall, Dick’s Drive-In, Ivar’s Fish Bar, the Roslyn Café, The Brick Tavern, Oregon’s Haystack Rock.
Dash is a regular at a few taprooms—Postdoc Brewing in Redmond, Hellbent Brewing in Seattle, and the Coug-owned Flatstick Pub in Kirkland—as well as the Marymoor Off-Leash Dog Park. He’s also a fan of The Seattle Barkery, maker of hand-crafted dog treats, and Starbucks, where his regular order is the Puppuccino, whipped cream in a cup for a patron’s pooch.
Dash has partnered with Cosmic Crisp® Apples, Butch’s Britches, The Coug, and more on social media posts. Six years into his Instagram adventure, Edlund says, “Dash is an influencer. We’ve been able to create relationships and collaborate with people and organizations that we care about. We don’t expect free meals. But if people want to give Dash treats, that’s cool.”
Dash has an international following, but his two largest audiences are actually in Seattle and Pullman. He has fans in the Philippines, Poland, Russia, United Kingdom, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, and more. Analytics also show that most of his followers, some 70 percent, are female. And most of his audience is 18 to 34.
The most popular posts tend to feature Dash with hot dogs or anything Coug-related. With his best bud Butch T. Cougar. At Martin Stadium. With Cougar Gold Cheese. Sporting the WSU Cougar-head flag. Wearing a crimson-and-gray WSU bandana. Showing off his mug at The Coug.
Being the only canine member of the mug club is a role Dash and Edlund take seriously. “Mug club members represent The Coug and The Coug community,” Edlund says. “There’s a code of conduct, and if you don’t live up to it your mug may be revoked.”
Dash usually behaves himself.
“He’s a good dog, and very easy-going,” Edlund says. “If someone swears at Dash (on social media), they’ll probably get blocked or deleted because Dash is a good boy, and he wouldn’t swear. He loves people. He’s very calm. He’s great in crowds and was in the middle of the College GameDay crowd, sitting at my feet. He’s also very food-motivated. He gets excited for Tater Tots and corn dogs. Stepping into The Coug with Dash is funny because everyone’s excited to see him. And Dash would normally eat that attention up, but he ignores it until he’s done scouring the floor for misplaced Tater Tots.”
Dash has met WSU President Kirk Schulz, First Lady Noel Schulz, and First Corgi Cayenne. He’s met Coug quarterbacks Gardner Minshew, Drew Bledsoe, and Jack Thompson.
“I’m hoping Dash will get to meet (current WSU football coach Nick) Rolovich,” Edlund says, noting, “I know he’s a dog guy. Dash is popular in the Athletic Department, so it’d be cool to say hi to Pat Chun, too. And Dash would probably like to meet the person who makes the ice cream and cheese at Ferdinand’s.” (That would be John Haugen (’93 Civ. Eng.), WSU Creamery manager.)
Throughout the pandemic, Edlund and Dash have stuck pretty close to home.
“It’s hard to plan things right now,” Edlund says. “We hope to visit Pullman again soon.”
Maybe, he jokes, Dash could get his “dogtorate” degree.
Whenever they’re in town, the Team Dash duo makes a point to get a photo in front of Bryan Hall. They also like to visit Roost Coffee & Market—“The staff there loves Dash,” Edlund says— and Rico’s Public House. “Rico’s is great,” Edlund says. “It was my dad’s favorite bar when he was a student in the ’60s. And it doesn’t seem to have changed since I was a student either. It’s special because it’s timeless, always just like you remember it. That’s one of the reasons The Coug is special, too.”
Dash recently turned 10, making him a senior citizen in dog years. He no longer joins Edlund on training runs, but he still gets plenty of long walks. “Dash is doing really well,” Edlund says. “He’s in great shape. Hopefully, he’ll be around for a long time.”
Edlund is considering getting Dash a companion, another golden retriever pup. “I’ve already got a name picked out,” he says.