Togo, the heroic dog

A wonderful story that mustn’t be allowed to fade away.


A week ago, I wrote a post called Sticks and Stones.  Towards the end of that post, I mentioned Togo,

In 1925, a ravaging case of diphtheria broke out in the isolated Alaskan village of Nome. No plane or ship could get the serum there, so the decision was made for multiple sled dog teams to relay the medicine across the treacherous frozen land. The dog that often gets credit for eventually saving the town is Balto, but he just happened to run the last, 55-mile leg in the race. The sled dog who did the lion’s share of the work was Togo. His journey, fraught with white-out storms, was the longest by 200 miles and included a traverse across perilous Norton Sound — where he saved his team and driver in a courageous swim through ice floes.

and added that I would write more about Togo.  Here it is.

The Wikipedia entry reveals:

Togo (October 1913 – December 5, 1929) was the sled dog who led Leonhard Seppala and his dog sled team as they covered the longest distance in the 1925 relay of diphtheria antitoxin from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska, to combat an outbreak of the disease. The run is commemorated by the annual Iditarod dog sled race.

Annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

Togo was a Siberian Husky, his coat was black, brown, and gray, and he weighed about 48 pounds (22 kg). Seppala’s lead dog during the 1914 All-Alaska Sweepstakes, and was a precocious leader. At the time of the serum run Togo was twelve years old.

Within that entry, under the sub-heading of the Great Race of Mercy is this,

The first batch of 300,240 units of serum was delivered by train from Anchorage to Nenana, Alaska, where it was picked up by the first of twenty mushers and more than 100 dogs who relayed the serum a total of 674 miles (1,085 km) to Nome.

Togo and Seppala traveled 170 miles (274 km) from Nome in three days, and picked up the serum in Shaktoolik on January 31. The temperature was estimated at −30 °F (−34 °C), and the gale force winds causing a wind chill of −85 °F (−65 °C).

The return trip crossed the exposed open ice of the Norton Sound. The night and a ground blizzard prevented Seppala from being able to see the path but Togo navigated to the roadhouse at Isaac’s Point on the shore by 8 AM preventing certain death to his team. After traveling 84 miles (134 km) in one day, the team slept for six hours before continuing at 2 AM.

Before the night the temperature dropped to −40 °F (−40 °C), and the wind increased to 65 mi/h (105 km/h). The team ran across the ice, which was breaking up, while following the shoreline. They returned to shore to cross Little McKinley Mountain, climbing 5,000 feet (1,500 m). After descending to the next roadhouse in Golovin, Seppala passed the serum to Charlie Olsen, who in turn would pass it to Gunnar Kaasen and Balto.

A web search for ‘Togo’ including a mention on a website called Find A Grave that has this,

Birth: Oct., 1913

Death: Dec. 5, 1929, Poland Spring, Androscoggin County, Maine, USA

A sled dog for Leonhard Seppala. In 1925, When a diphtheria out brake happened in Nome Alaska. Seppala, Togo and a team of dogs ran to Nenana. He ran 10 times the distance of a average sled run. However another dog named Balto got nearly all of the fame. After the run, Seppala sold Togo to a friend in Poland Spring Maine were Togo was euthanized on December 5th 1929. He was stuffed and was put on display at Yale University. He was eventually moved to the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Museum in Wasilla Alaska, where he is today.

Burial: Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Museum, Wasilla, Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Alaska, USA


11 thoughts on “Togo, the heroic dog

  1. Great Story! Thanks for sharing.Paul…motivation for us two legged folks to go the extra mile for our brothers and sisters of the human race! Blessings to you and yours! mag


  2. I think if anyone ever truly connects with a dog or any animal for that matter…
    they will know what unconditional love is….
    Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story….
    Take Care…


    1. MaryRose, thank you and thanks for subscribing to the blog. Have to warn you that not all the articles are about dogs but, hopefully, the theme of integrity is never far from the surface. However, over the week-end standards drop badly! 😉


      1. that’s okay….I never know what my blog will be about from moment to moment…
        I will look around more this weekend….I have to go to work in a bit…..
        after humpday/no fun day…the weekend is usually a free for all or freefall? lols…
        Take care


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