As a young pup, Togo was initially thought to be ill-suited to life as a sled dog, due to his bold personality. He’d often try to play with the other sled dogs while they were training or would lead them off-track and generally cause mischief, which made things difficult for Leonhard Seppala, Togo’s owner.
One day, while preparing for a training run, Seppala put the energetic dog in a harness for the first time. The idea being that if Togo was in a harness, Seppala would have a better handle on the dog and have more control over Togo’s behavior - this way, he’d be able to keep Togo in-check, and also do the necessary work with his sled dogs. Seppala was surprised to find, however, that once the harness was on, Togo instantly settled down.
As the practice run continued that same day, Togo came to share the lead position with another sled dog, and by the end of the run he’d logged 75 miles. At the time, this feat was unheard of for an inexperienced sled dog on his first run, nevermind one that was still a only a puppy.
Seppala finally realized that Togo was something special, calling him an “infant prodigy” and “a natural-born leader”. After a few years of training, Togo took over the lead dog position on Seppala’s dog sled team, and stayed a part of it until he retired at the age of 16.
Togo is best known for his role in the 1925 serum run to Nome across central and northern Alaska.