August 18, 2015 | Posted in Reggie A HollyWOOF Star
Good deeds live forever — even after the do-gooder has passed on to higher ground. In this case, the famous individual was a fellow canine.
We’re talking about Balto, a hearty Siberian Husky sled dog, who led his team on the historic final leg of the 1925 “serum run” to pick up the diphtheria antitoxin desperately needed for an outbreak of the disease in Nome, Alaska.
Doctors panicked because so many people, including a lot of children, were dying. (BOOOHOOOSLURP)
The only medicine that could stop the epidemic (something so bad and so unstoppable) was located in Seattle, Washington — which was 2,800 miles away. WHEW!
It was January and bitterly cold — especially in Alaska. The engine of the only aircraft that could deliver the serum wasfrozen solid and wouldn’t start. (Yikes! Bark!)
The decision was made to move the medicine via multiple dog sled teams. The medicine was sent by train to Anchorage, and by train again to Nenana, Alaska, where the first dog team began its journey. More than 20 mushers (sled teams) participated in a relay action, before it finally arrived in Nome.
To make matters even worse, they set out in a blizzard in minus 23 degree weather and strong winds. GOSH!UNBELIEVABLEBARK!)
Balto, and his owner, Gunnar Kaasen, were the last team to drive the serum into Nome. Balto was able to navigate the trail in the worst whiteout conditions; their leg of the relay was also done almost entirely in the dark. Kassen was known to have said he could barely see his hand in front of his face.
THAT’S REALLY BAD!!! BARK! HELP! MUSH, BALTO, MUSH!!
This ground-breaking dog sled run is commemorated today by the Annual Iditarod Trail Sled Race.
A friend of mine went with his humans to Central Park in New York City to see the statue of Balto that was placed there in December, 1926. He thought it would be as high as a mountain and decorated with ribbons and stuff. It wasn’t.
Actually, it was a little hard to find at first. But, he’s there!
Here’s a picture of the statue:
And here’s a great shot of Mr. Kaasen and Balto — who actually looks like he’s smiling! You can tell Mr. Kaasen is proud of him!
After Balto died, a taxidermist made him live forever and donated him to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. In 1998 he was loaned to the Anchorage Museum of History and Art for 5 months. The display drew record crowds.
Isn’t he a great looking guy?
Balto’s journey was also the subject of an animated film, which was voiced by Kevin Bacon (as Balto). Other characters included Jenna, Balto’s girl friend (voiced by Jane Fonda); Boris the Goose (Bob Hoskins); Steele the Sled Dog (Jim Cummings) and Muk and Luk, voiced by Phil Collins.