Advertisement

The True Story Behind The Dog Who Inspired "Balto"

Jan 25, 2016

Here at Wimp, we love dogs. Some of our favorite stories involve rescuing dogs from unfavorable conditions, like this dog who jumped into a stranger's car for one last chance at survival. Our furry friends mean so much to us, so seeing them get the life they deserve brings us a great deal of happiness. 

There are other instances, however, when dogs are the ones doing the rescuing. Whether it's three stray dogs rescuing an entire barrack full of soldiers from a bomb, or a three-legged dog comforting a boy with a rare medical condition, it's clear that dogs have a special place in their hearts for humans.

Few moments in history demonstrate this as much as the story of "Balto." Some of you may be familiar with the 1995 animated film of the same name, which tells the story of a sled dog who went on to rescue a town greatly in need of medical supplies, but did you know that it’s actually based on a true story? Just like anything inspired by real events, the movie takes some creative liberties in retelling the thrilling tale. For example, we have no proof that Balto was best friends with a talking bird. 

Check out the photos below to see the real life Balto and learn more about the remarkable true story that is just as inspiring today as it was when it happened in 1925.

Advertisement

This is the sleepy town of Nome, Alaska. In 1925, an outbreak of diphtheria hit Nome, infecting mostly children at first. Diphtheria is a bacterial infection that can be fatal if not treated properly. Unfortunately, the town only had one doctor and he didn't have any viable serum left to treat those who were suffering from the outbreak.


Wikimedia Commons

There were no roads in or out of the town, and the frozen waterways made it nearly impossible to reach the outside world. Not knowing what else to do, the doctor made one final push to get the medicine his town so desperately needed. He requested that someone deliver the serum via sled dog, which meant brave men and canines would be forced to travel the Iditarod Trail. At nearly 700 miles in length, and full of every danger you could imagine, this was beyond risky.


Wikimedia Commons

The journey between Nenana and Nome normally took 30 days to complete, but circumstances required it to be completed in six. The trip was divided up by a relay of dog sled teams for maximum efficiency.


Wikimedia Commons

The second-to-last leg of the trip was considered the most unsafe. It was guided by Leonhard Seppala, a famous musher, as well as his dog Togo. Together, they braved storm and ice to reach their destination.


Wikimedia Commons

Advertisement

But the journey was far from over. Seppala and his team passed the serum to another musher named Gunnar Kaasen. This crate full of medicine meant life or death for so many people, and it was now in his hands. This is where Balto comes in. Balto was the lead dog on Kaasen's team, which didn't have anywhere near as much experience as the other teams.


Wikimedia Commons

Their leg took them through utter darkness and white-out blizzards, leaving only their instincts to guide them to their destination. Apparently, Balto was even responsible for saving the entire crew from falling into a river, sensing the edge despite being in complete darkness.


Encyclopedia Of Cleveland History

Balto and the rest of the team pushed straight into Nome just in time, bringing relief to those who needed it and ending the diphtheria epidemic. Everyone praised Balto and Kaasen for their bravery - they were even recognized by president Calvin Coolidge! The heroic dog passed away in 1933, but Balto's legacy lives on through a memorial located in Central Park. So, the next time someone says that dogs are "man's best friend," remind them that one dog literally went to the ends of the earth to save the people he loved.


Wikimedia Commons

Via: Little Things

Advertisement
Advertisement
Trending Today: