Handler-With-Care

Foster undergrad Michelle Harte manages school, work and Dubs on the side

“Dubs is such a big sweetie,” says Michelle Harte, a rising senior at the Foster School of Business.

It’s a sentiment she shares, no doubt, with thousands of fellow Huskies and hundreds of thousands of University of Washington alumni regarding the living, breathing emblem of the school they adore.

But Dubs is much more than a mascot to Harte. Since the end of her first year at the UW, she has worked as a handler for the school’s top Dawg, whom she describes as both a good boy and the consummate professional.

“When I first started working with Dubs, I could tell how much he loves his job (and the treats that come with it),” she says. “He’s super-intuitive and always picks up on different signals. A great example is football gameday.”

You’ve heard of “Beast Mode?”

“When it’s time for the run-out,” Harte adds, “Dubs just knows it’s time to go into focus mode.”

Balancing act

Focus is also key for Harte as she juggles a rigorous academic load in finance and marketing at Foster, a summer internship at PACCAR, a part-time job supporting the school’s Advancement team, and managing the affairs of an 80-pound Alaskan Malamute, who happens to be the most in-demand celebrity on campus.

The latter is a true calling for Harte, a lifelong animal lover who grew up caring for a dog and cat and volunteered at a center for equine therapy in high school.

“Knowing that my experience working with animals would likely help me succeed in the role, I decided to apply,” she says. “The rest is history.”

Now a veteran member of the student handler team, Harte manages Dubs (or, to be formal, Dubs II) at two or three events per week—more during the busy football (“Gamedays are go-go-go”) and spring/graduation seasons. “Dubs,” she says, “is a busy dude.”

She is ever by his side as he rallies crowds, sparks purple pride and poses—with preternatural patience—for pictures with partisans. Harte manages the details and makes sure her famous furry friend is always safe, healthy and happy.

Inside the Husky experience

Harte says that her mascot-handling and Foster experiences intertwine “almost poetically… The skills we learn from working with Dubs—focus, time management, team skills, to name a few—are integral to business. And the values taught at Foster apply perfectly to working with Dubs and his fans.”

Harte has a special bond with a special dog.

A fan first herself, Harte is beyond thrilled to play a supporting role in one of greatest of Husky traditions. “One of my favorite parts of the job is watching people meet Dubs for the first time,” she says. “I love seeing the look on their face as he makes someone’s day!

“Dubs is a truly iconic part of the Husky experience, and I am beyond grateful to get to be a part of it.”

Husky football photo courtesy of UW Athletics. Additional photography by Paul Gibson.

Ed Kromer Managing Editor Foster School

Ed Kromer is the managing editor of Foster Business magazine. Over the past two decades, he has served as the school’s senior storyteller, writing about a wide array people, programs, insights and innovations that power the Foster School community.