Prior to 1920, the University of Washington had two unofficial mascots-first the Indians, and later the Vikings. Neither name seemed appropriate, so most local publications referred to the university's athletic teams as the "purple and gold." Midway through the scholastic year of 1920, the Associated Students of the University of Washington (ASUW) held general elections and voted to adopt "Sundodger" as its official mascot. The name was quickly adopted by the alumni's publication, "Washington Alumnus," which sported a smiling figure named Sunny holding an umbrella. Many people took Sundodger to be a negative reference to the city's rainy weather. In 1922, after mounting pressure from local newspapers and businesses, the university considered finding a more suitable representative for the school.
Arriving at the Husky
The Husky was favored because it was easy to cartoon, a fitting name for an athletic team, and is short and easy to use in newspaper headlines. In an unofficial poll the following week, the school's paper, the Daily, published that 16 of 24 students and faculty favored Husky over Sundodger. The committee believed the Husky captured the true spirit of the Northwest because Seattle was recognized as the "Gateway to the Alaskan frontier."
The UW uses the Husky breed, the Alaskan Malamute, because it is the largest and strongest of all Husky breeds.
Frosty I and II
After a winning football season, the Husky football team went to the 1924 Rose Bowl. Frosty made his California debut in the Tournament of Roses Parade, trotting alongside the Husky Marching Band the entire nine miles. Frosty was not only sociable, he had nomadic tendencies. He often roamed the neighborhoods in and around the university campus. An understanding taxi cab company agreed to escort the social butterfly home free of charge when he was found wandering.
From 1930 to 1936, Frosty II took over the position of mascot. Then a 10- year period followed before the university adopted its third Alaskan Husky.
In 1946, the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity adopted a new Husky pup that had not yet been named. The Daily held a contest to find a suitable name for the new addition. The committee narrowed the field to three choices: Oskewawa, Boe-Wow-Wow and Wasky. The names were placed in a hat and a winner was drawn: Wasky. The name, submitted by student Marie L. Vanderspek, was a combination of the words Washington and Husky. Her prize for submitting the winning name was a 1947 Tyee yearbook and a pair of tickets to the Washington-Oregon game.
Wasky kept his title for six years and was followed by Wasky II in 1947. In 1954, Ski became head dog at the university.
King Chinook made his first appearance as the Husky mascot at the Idaho game in 1959. Harry Cross's son, Kim, watched the dog from the sidelines. Because he was overly social, he required a large contingent of overseers to keep him corralled during exciting times.
During a game against Illinois, King Chinook got loose and ran out onto the field to make friends with the players. He bullied his way into the middle of the huddle, sniffing and licking the hands of the Illinois' players. Timeout was called while Professor Cross and his son hurried onto the field to retrieve the dog.
Sadly, in October 1968, King Chinook died after being hit by a truck.
At the conclusion of one game, Regent was tied to the end of a bench and given a large bone to chew on as a reward for a job well done. An injured player plopped down on the bench near the dog. An eager photographer hurried over to take the player's picture, oblivious of the mascot. The photographer accidentally stepped on Regent's tail, interrupting his snack. The dog instantly turned his attention to the photographer and snapped warning nips at him.
Sundodger Denali was purchased by the athletic department from a kennel in Tamarack, Washington, in 1981. Ten years later, Sundodger was scheduled to appear in the Tournament of Roses Parade along with the Husky Marching Band. In order to line up for the parade on time, the band had to leave its hotel at 4:00 in the morning. So the top dog spent the night before with Husky band director Bill Bissell and his family. The band staff met the Cross family and Sundodger at a secluded back door of the band's hotel and quietly herded him up a back stairwell. Safely in the Bissells' room for the night, Sundodger enjoyed the New Year's Eve celebration. Early the next morning, after spending a comfortable night snoozing on the balcony, Sundodger joined the members of the band and cheer squad aboard the bus, wandering up and down the aisle.
A tragedy nearly occurred the next year enroute to the 1992 Rose Bowl, when airline personnel began loading the sedated Sundodger into an unpressurized cargo hold. Luckily, band staff member Ken Noreen spotted what was happening and called attention right away to the potential disaster. Sundodger was immediately moved to a pressurized hold and made the trip safely.
One of the more inauspicious moments during "the King's" reign occurred at the conclusion of the 1996 season. The band arrived in San Diego for the Holiday Bowl, but upon checking in, found out that the hotel would not allow Redoubt to stay in the Crosses' room. After Kim Cross and the band staff were discovered trying to sneak the mascot up the back staircase, Redoubt had to spent the rest of the trip at a hotel down the street.
In August 1998, King Redoubt succumbed to a heat wave and passed away the night before Seattle's Torchlight Parade.
In 1999, the UW crowned yet another Alaskan malamute as the current mascot. Like many before him, Spirit is mellow, easy-going and never seems to be bothered by large crowds or adoring fans.
In January 2001, when the Husky football team played in the Rose Bowl, Spirit and the Cross family accompanied the band to Pasadena. The trainers and the dog enjoyed a business suite at the hotel where they were staying. Late one evening, Spirit heard a barrage of sirens outside the hotel. He hurried out onto the balcony to join in on the fun. Tossing his head back, Spirit sang as loud as he was able along with the sirens. Many of the hotel guests appeared on their balconies to see what all the commotion was about. Kim Cross was able to hush the dog quickly while apologizing to the onlookers. More than anything else, other guests seemed amused by Spirit's antics.
Spirit retired from game action in August 2008.
In late September 2008, the school announced an initiative to search for an appropriate name for its live mascot that would remain an ongoing UW tradition. A contest was launched on GoHuskies.com and fans were asked to submit their favorite name for the live Husky dog.
More than 1,400 different nominations were received and a committee that consisted of campus and community representatives narrowed the field to a reasonable list of finalists, including: Admiral, Dubs, King, Koda, Legend, Reign, Spirit and Sundodger. More than 20,000 votes were received in two rounds of online voting via GoHuskies.com, with Dubs emerging victorious.