The Dash that Mattered

A dog’s life & legacy

Some dogs are a special breed — that life- changing, warm and understanding companion that comes along at just the right time. That perfect pet that charms everyone they meet.

Those who met Dash knew she was one of those dogs.

“I never grew up with animals; that wasn’t a thing that my family did. But Dash was really friendly, really easy, just a really sweet dog,” says Jennifer Salamandick, a close friend of Dash’s owner, Steph Fedoruk. “She was one of those dogs who made anyone who didn’t have a dog yet really want one.”

For Fedoruk, Dash stood out from the very beginning. Their story started in 2011, when Fedoruk, then grieving the loss of her grandfather, adopted Dash from the Humane Society.

“I’ve always had a passion for dogs, but I’d never had my own because I never had a place where I could have them,” she says. “I decided to go down and just visit the SPCA once, and I saw her there. Her name was Felicity at the time. She was pretty timid, cowered in the corner, but I went in there and we kinda just had a connection right away. So I brought her home.”

While her new four-legged friend brought comfort, something about the name Felicity wasn’t sitting right. As Fedoruk prepared to speak at her grandfather’s funeral, the celebrant overseeing the ceremony said something that stuck: Just go up there and remember that it’s not the date he was born or the date that he passed away that matters — it’s the dash in between that counts.

“And that’s it. That’s how she got her name. We were pretty inseparable from that point on,” says Fedoruk.

Inspired by Dash’s sweet temperament, Salamandick and her wife, Emma Butler, bought a house and adopted a dog of their own, Penny. Not long after that, Fedoruk and Dash moved into the house as well. The two dogs took an instant liking to each other, and the household became a pack of its own. In time, the pack grew as Fedoruk met and married her partner Ciara, who became Dash’s second mom.

In early 2019, the couples adopted two more puppies, and prepared to have Dash and Penny show them the ropes. Unfortunately, fate had other plans.

No pet owner is ever ready for the loss of their beloved companion. Dash’s perfect nature made her sudden passing on March 16, 2019, particularly difficult to bear. As they mourned the loss of this once-in-a-lifetime dog, Salamandick and Butler looked for other ways to carry on Dash’s legacy, and launched the Dash Fund with Edmonton Community Foundation.

“Setting up the Dash Fund felt like a good way to honour her memory. It became something that we could all focus on,” says Salamandick, explaining that the fund supports the animal rescue and adoption process. “This is the kind of thing that will have Dash live on.”

For Fedoruk, the fund goes far beyond what she could have imagined as Dash’s legacy. “I had a really hard time when Dash passed away. You know you have people come over and they’re dropping off stuff, like flowers and whatnot, but then Jen and Emma mentioned the Dash fund I…” she says, her voice wavering. “That was amazing. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

“It will outlive us all and all of our future pets,” Salamandick adds. “Most importantly, it will give other people the chance to have these experiences that have been so meaningful for all of us.”

This story comes from the Spring 2022 edition of Legacy in Action. Read the full magazine.