Monday, February 17, 2014

Dog of the Geek: Balto!

Breed: Siberian Husky

Original Appearances: Balto (1995 animated film)

Other Appearances: N/A

Biography: Balto, unlike many of the dogs I've covered here, was an actual real-life hero! In 1925, during a deadly diptheria epidemic in Nome, a seurum was needed in Anchorage, about 1,000 miles away. Since the only aircraft that could deliver the medicine had a frozen engine and would not start, it was decided to move the medicine by sled dog. Norwegians Gunnar Kaasen and Leonhard Seppala, along with more than 20 other mushers taking turns, drove the dogs (led by Balto on the final leg). Kaasen, who was the musher when the final leg brought the serum into Nome, gave the credit to Balto, although it's been pointed out that the longest and most hazardous section of the run was made by Seppala with his dog team, led by Togo. Kaasen, however, insisted that while he could barely see his hand in front of his face, Balto kept his team on the trail, even though it was almost entirely in the dark. Balto's team actually did two legs of the run, as the original team was asleep when Balto and Kaasen made it to what was supposed to be their final stop. Regardless, the general public loved the story behind Balto, so it was Balto who became the celebrity. The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race commemorates the run.

Powers: None

Group Affiliation: Kaasen's dog team.

Miscellaneous: The 1995 animated film Balto, while based on the true story, highly fictionalized the tale, and Balto is the only character in the film based on a real person.

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