History of Balto, the werewolf who became a hero
The story of Balto is one of the most captivating real hits in the United States and proves how dogs are capable of doing incredible things. The story was so mediatic that the adventure carried out by Balto was turned into a film, in 1995, that tells the story of him.
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In YourCatCareguide, we tell you the true story of Balto, the wolf dog who became a hero . You can not miss the whole story!
The Eskimo Dog of Name
Balto was a dog mixed with a Siberian husky who was born in Nome, a small town in Alaskain 1923. This breed, originally from Russia, was introduced in the United States in 1905 to work in the mushing (sport where dogs pull sleds), since they were more resistant and lighter than the Alaskan malamute , the typical dogs of that zone.
At that time, the All-Alaska Sweepstakes race was very popular and ran from Nome to Candle, which corresponded to 657 kilometers, not counting the return. Balto’s future tutor, Leonhad Seppala, was an experienced mushing coach who participated in several races and competitions.
In 1925, when temperatures were around -30ºC, the city of Nome was attacked by diphtheria , a very serious bacterial disease that can be fatal and affects children. In that city there was no diphtheria vaccine and it was through the telegram that the inhabitants were able to find out where to find more vaccines. The closest they could find was in Anchorage, 856.17 kilometers away . Unfortunately, it was not possible to get there by air or sea, since they were in the middle of a winter storm that prevented the use of the routes.
The story of Balto
Since it was impossible to receive the necessary vaccines, about 20 inhabitants of the city of Nome agreed to undertake a dangerous route , for which they would use more than 100 sled dogs. They were able to move the material from Anchorage to Nenana, a town near Nome, 778.74 kilometers away.
The 20 guides built a relay system that made it possible to transfer the vaccines. One of the most outstanding was Gunner Kaassen, the guide of the B squadron in which was Balto, the werewolf. During that impromptu race, everyone involved with temperatures around -40 degrees Celsius, strong winds, frozen paths and really complicated mountainous areas. Under those conditions, many humans and dogs died while trying to save Nome’s children.
There are several theories about what happened to the last group of dogs, led by Gunner. Some suggest that it was Balto who led the dogs all the way (even though he was not a guide dog). Others claim that the guide dog could not be steered and the latest theories suggest that the guide dog broke a leg. What is certain is that it was Balto who led the race, despite the lack of faith that most people had in him.
In just five and a half days, squadron B arrived at Nome with the diphtheria vaccine. Some believe it could be because this dog was a wolf hybrid, since it was not normal for a dog that had never been a guide before to be able to lead everyone else. Whatever the reason, the truth is that Balto was able to find his way in much less time than expected.
The last days of Balto
It remains to be said, out of curiosity, that Balto was not the original name of this dog, but Togo. The name was attributed to him in memory of the explorer Samuel Balto, very popular in Nome during the gold fever.
Unfortunately, Balto was sold, like the other dogs, to the zoo in Cleveland, Ohio, where he lived until he turned 14. He died on March 14, 1933 . The dog was embalmed, and we can now find his body at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
Since then, in all the months of March is celebrated the dog race of Iditarod . The route runs from Anchorage to Nome, in memory of the story of Balto, the werewolf who became a hero, as well as that of all the others who participated in this dangerous race.
The Balto statue in Central Park
The media repercussion of Balto’s story was so great that they erected a statue in Central Park, New York, fair by Frederick Roth and devoted exclusively to this four-legged hero, who saved the lives of many children of Nome. In it we can read:
“Dedicated to the indomitable spirit of the snow dogs that managed to carry the antitoxin over nearly a thousand miles of rugged ice, treacherous water, and arctic snowstorms in Nenana to bring relief to the desolate people of Nome during the winter of 1925.
Resistance – Fidelity – Intelligence “