Tag: Norton Sound

Togo, the heroic dog

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

Togo

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

Magnificent!

Sticks and stones

I make no apologies for today’s post being more emotional and sentimental.

The phrase ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me‘ is well known throughout the English-speaking world and surprisingly goes back some way.  A quick web search found that in the The Christian Recorder of March 1862, there was this comment:

Remember the old adage, ‘Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me’. True courage consists in doing what is right, despite the jeers and sneers of our companions.

So if in 1862 the saying was referred to as an ‘old adage’ then it clearly pre-dated 1862 by some degree.

A few days ago, Dusty M., here in Payson, AZ, sent me a short YouTube video called The Power of Words.  I’m as vulnerable as the next guy to needing being reminded about what’s important in this funny old world.  Then I started mulling over the tendency for all of us to be sucked into a well of doom and gloom.  Take my posts on Learning from Dogs over the last couple of days, as an example.

There is no question that the world in which we all live is going through some extremely challenging times but anger and negativity is not going to be the answer.  As that old reference spelt out so clearly, “True courage consists in doing what is right, despite the jeers and sneers of our companions.

So first watch the video,

then let me close by reminding us all that courage is yet something else we can learn from dogs.

Togo the husky

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.

More about Togo another day.