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Togo

Oct. 17, 1913 - Dec. 5, 1929
Breed: Siberian Husky

A Dog's Life

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.

Every Dog Has Its Day

  • Togo was the lead sled dog in the 1925 serum run to Nome
  • Unfortunately for Togo, Balto became the most well-known dog from the run - however, many consider Balto to be the back-up dog, due to the fact that Seppala’s team covered the longest and most hazardous part of the run - a round trip of 365 miles
  • Togo and a team of other dogs toured from Seattle, Washington to California, drawing large crowds at stadiums and department stores
  • Roald Amundsen awarded a gold medal to Togo in Madison Square Garden - which at the time was being managed by Tom Rickard, formerly of Nome
  • Togo also appeared in a Lucky Strike cigarette campaign
  • ‍Today, Togo’s mounted skin can be seen on display at  Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Headquarters museum in Wasilla, Alaska; his skeleton is in the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University