150 dogs saved the children of Nome, Alaska from a deadly diphtheria epidemic
In 1925 a deadly diphtheria epidemic strikes down the city of Nome, Alaska and the highly contagious disease, which already claimed lives, threatens to quickly spread to all of the children in Nome.
The only hope for them was an anti-toxin. Unfortunately, due to extreme winter conditions it was impossible for any airplanes or ships to get to Nome and bring them the anti-toxin. When everything seemed to be lost, a solution takes shape: to transport the anti-toxin using a relay of dog sled teams. But under the pressure of time and long distance this seemed rather an impossible mission.
More than 20 mushers and their dog sled teams participated at the relay.
Balto, Togo and Fritz (see photos below) were three of the 150 dogs that took part at that race, facing blinding blizzards and temperatures that dropped to as low as -50 °C (-60 F) in order to deliver the package containing the life saving serum.
The most dangerous part of the race was covered by Seppala and his leader dog Togo; they also covered the longest distance: 418 km.
The last part of the journey to Nome was covered by Kaasen and his sled dog Balto.
By that time the arctic blizzard got so severe that Kaasen could not even see his leading dog and feared they would not be able to deliver the anti-toxin in time. But his dog Balto knew the trail well and, following his instincts, led the team through the snow.
Each dog on a team has an important role, but it is the leader dog who must have an uncanny instinct to find the trail, sense any danger and guide the team through safely.
It was a life-or-death race to deliver the desperately needed anti-toxin and the dogs traveled 1085 kilometers in less than 6 days, most of it in the dark. When the dogs arrived at Nome they were so exhausted that could not even bark.
Had it not been for the brave dogs to deliver the serum, the children wouldn’t have survived.
After the mission’s success Balto and his team became famous and a bronze statue of Balto was unveiled in his honor in Central Park, New York.
But fame didn’t last long…Balto and the other dogs from his team were sold to a vaudeville promoter and ended up chained and exhibited in “dime” shows, unhealthy and mistreated.
Impressed by their drama and outraged by the horrible conditions they were being kept in, a businessman finally managed to save Balto and 6 other dogs from his team. But it is not certain what happened with the rest of the dogs, for whom salvation might have come just too late.
Following their deaths, three of the Nome Serum Race dogs – Balto, Togo and Fritz – were mounted by a taxidermist and put on display in museums. We don’t know the reasons why people at that time felt it right to have the three dogs stuffed, probably they wanted to keep their memory alive in a very tangible way, but our personal opinion is that they could have given them some dignity and bury them so that they could finally rest their old tired bodies.
It was a team effort, each of the 150 dogs having its vital part in delivering the life saving antitoxin and Balto, the dog who led the final sprint, became a symbol of courage, tenacity and hope.
These dogs have proved to humanity that there is hope even when everything seems to be lost.
It’s now humanity’s turn to prove that there is hope for dogs too.
Save a life. Adopt a dog.
RO: In anul 1925 o epidemie de difterie se abate asupra orasului Nome din Alaska.
Difteria, o boala extrem de contagioasa, curmase deja vietile catorva copii si ameninta sa se raspandesca rapid asupra tuturor copiilor din Nome. Salvarea lor presupunea administrarea unei anti-toxine, insa vremea extrem de nefavorabila facea imposibil accesul navelor sau avioanelor in acea zona.
Singura solutie era ca anti-toxina sa fie transportata cu atelaje de sanii trase de caini. Distanta de parcurs insa era imensa, peste 1000 de kilometri.
Balto, Togo si Fritz au fost 3 dintre cei 150 de caini care au participat la aceasta cursa, infruntand viscolul si temperaturi de pana la – 50 de grade Celsius pentru a livra pachetul ce continea serul salvator.
Cea mai periculoasa parte a traseului a fost parcursa de Leonard Seppala si cainele-lider Togo care au transportat serul pe o distanta mai mare decat celelalte echipe: 418 km.
Ultima portiune a traseului a fost parcursa de muserul Kaasen si cainele lider Balto. Viscolul arctic se inasprise atat de tare, iar vizibilitatea era atat de redusa incat Kaasen incepuse sa isi piarda speranta ca vor mai ajunge la destinatie in timp util. Insa cainele sau Balto cunostea bine traseul si, urmandu-si instinctele, si-a condus echipa prin zapada.
A fost o cursa incredibila pentru a livra anti-toxina la timp, iar cainii au strabatut 1085 de kilometri in mai putin de 6 zile, mare parte a timpului mergand prin intuneric. Cand au ajuns la Nome erau atat de extenuati incat nici nu au mai putut sa latre.
Daca nu ar fi existat acesti caini curajosi, copiii din Nome nu ar fi supravietuit.
Dupa finalizarea cu success a cursei, Balto si echipa sa au devenit celebri, in Central Park New York fiind ridicata chiar si o statuie intruchipandu-l pe Balto.
Insa celebritatea nu a durat mult. Balto si restul cainilor din echipa sa au fost vanduti si folositi ca si atractii, fiind tinuti in conditii precare si legati cu lanturi.
Impresionat de drama lor si oripilat de conditiile mizere in care erau tinuti cainii care salvasera vietile atator copii, un om de afaceri a reusit sa il salveze pe Balto si inca 6 caini din echipa sa. Despre soarta celorlalti caini insa nu se mai stie nimic.
Dupa stingerea din viata, trupurile a 3 dintre caini – Balto, Togo si Fritz – au fost impaiate pentru a fi expuse in muzee. Probabil un act facut din dorinta de a-i pastra in amintire intr-un mod mai tangibil, desi trupurile lor istovite ar fi meritat macar la final sa se odihneasca in sfarsit in liniste
Fiecare dintre cei 150 de caini a avut rolul sau vital in a transporta serul salvator de vieti, iar Balto a devenit un simbol al curajului, tenacitatii si sperantei.
Acesti caini au aratat umanitatii ca exista speranta chiar si atunci cand totul pare pierdut.
Este acum randul umanitatii sa le arate cainilor ca si pentru ei exista speranta.
Salveaza o viata. Adopta un caine.