This is Togo. You’ve probably never heard of him, which is sad because he’s an American Hero. When Diptheria struck the town of Nome, Alaska in 1925, the nearest serum was 674 miles away in Nenana. Conditions were too poor for the serum to be flown, so the only choice was to transport the serum by sled dog.
If this is starting to sound familiar, you’ve probably heard of Balto, the movie-ized, statue-ized lead dog that ran the final stretch into Nome and the Iditarod Race that memorializes the whole run, and while Balto did lead his team through whiteout conditions, Togo was far more badass.
Togo was born in Alaska in 1913 to musher Leonhard Seppala’s former lead dog Suggen and initially didn’t look like much. He was small for a male husky at 48 pounds and very sickly as a young puppy, requiring constant nursing from Seppala’s wife. Also, he was kind of a dick.
“He was very bold and rowdy, showing all the signs of becoming a canine delinquent.”
Seppala gave his ass away when he was six months old. But Togo said, “I’m getting reeeal tired of your shit Leonhard,” busted through a window and ran several miles back to his master. Windows cannot hold Togo.
“Togo continued to cause trouble by breaking out of the kennel when Seppala took the team on runs.”
Kennels cannot hold Togo. Do you think he wondering why he was stuck in some dumb ass kennel while some other asshole was leading the team? He totally was.
“When Togo was 8 months old, he proved his worth as a sled dog. He had run after the team yet again and slept, unnoticed, near the cabin where Seppala was spending the night. The next day Seppala spotted him far off in the distance and understood why his dogs had been so keyed up. Togo continued to make Seppala’s work difficult, trying to play with the work dogs and leading them in “charges against reindeer”, pulling them off the trail.
Ain’t no room for punk-ass reindeer, this is Togo’s House.
“Seppala had no choice but to put him in a harness to control him, and was surprised that Togo instantly settled down. As the run wore on, Seppala kept moving Togo up the line until, at the end of the day, he was sharing the lead position with the lead dog (named “Russky”). Togo had logged 75 miles on his first day in harness, which was unheard of for an inexperienced young sled dog, especially a puppy. Seppala called him an “infant prodigy”, and later added that “I had found a natural-born leader, something I had tried for years to breed””
Did you see the part where Togo was born in 1913 and the Serum Run was in 1925? Togo was 12 fucking years old. Here’s fucking Grandpa Togo charging through subzero temperatures, pulling a sled, twice the age of that Glory Boy Balto.
Days 1-3? 170 miles with temperatures of -30 degrees Fahrenheit with a windchill of -85.
All Balto did was show up at the end and take all the credit. What’s that about leading his team through whiteout conditions though? Oh, Togo did that too on day 4, running 84 miles across the exposed 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 PM preventing certain death to his team.”
Did Balto charge across breaking ice? Togo did. Did Balto climb 5,000 feet? Togo did. Did Balto complete the longest, most dangerous, AND, fastest run of the whole ordeal? Togo did.
“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.”
“I did all the work, now go steal my credit, buttmunch.”
After the trip, 365 miles in all, through whiteout and thin ice conditions, Togo finally settled down to re-
“-are those reindeer?”
“AW HELL NO!”
“Immediately after the relay, Togo and another dog on the team escaped to chase after reindeer, eventually returning to their kennel in Little Creek.”
Togo’s corpse refused to be buried and is on display at the Iditarod Headquarters in Wasilla, Alaska where it occasionally eats unruly children.