Balto, a Dog Hero

Balto with Kaasen

Nome’s youth was starting to catch Diphtheria in January, 1925, and the serum that would cure it was in Anchorage.  That was 500 miles away, so they prepared to have the only available plane make the long journey, but it wouldn’t start.  The serum would have to be fetched by a dogsled relay before the epidemic spread and infected all of the children.  Twenty mushers volunteered, and the relay began.  The next to last team of the relay was Gunner Kaasen.  The dog who led his sled was Balto, a three-year-old dog without much experience.  Balto, however, proved his skill despite being an amateur.  Even when Kaasen could barely see his hand when held up to his face, Balto went on.  Crazy winds swept the sled and dogs off of the ground, but Balto went on, staying on course.  Finally, they came to where the last team was.  Now the dogs could rest, and Kaasen could warm his frigid hands.  However, the other musher was asleep, and Kaasen decided to keep going.  The serum just had to get to Nome in time.  Their team arrived at Nome on February 2nd, which ended the “Great Race of Mercy” in five days.  Kaasen was a hero, and everyone wanted to thank him.  He reminded them, however, that Balto was also a lifesaver, as he had faithfully stayed on course despite far below zero temperatures and strong winds. Balto died at the age of fourteen in 1933.  There is a statue in Central Park in New York City of the famous dog, and a plaque nearby reads: “Dedicated to the indomitable spirit of the sled dogs that relayed antitoxin six hundred miles over rough ice, across treacherous waters, through Arctic blizzards from Nenana to the relief of the stricken Nome in the winter of 1925. Endurance ~ Fidelity ~ Intelligence.”

About Sissy

Hi! I’m Sissy, a Toy Poodle. On Doggy Times I share articles about dog training, socialization, care, and health. Check out the Trick and Dog Breed Pages to learn more about your furry friend and how to train him/her.


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