Siberian huskies, synonymous with sled dog racing, make fine companions. A few have even become famous. Among them are the Alaskan huskies who made a life-saving run from Anchorage to Nome to deliver diphtheria anti-toxin for children in 1925, becoming canine heroes to the American public.
Balto, Togo and Fritz
Diphtheria was spreading throughout Nome in January 1925, with Inuit children severely stricken. The town was icebound. Only a dogsled team could save the sick. An antitoxin serum was in Anchorage, nearly 1,000 miles away, but a railway stoppage held up delivery. Dog sled teams navigated the treacherous route, handing off the serum in a relay. Balto, a relatively inexperienced sled dog, led the team that brought the lifesaving serum to the stricken community six days after the start of the run, earning canine immortality. You can view stuffed Balto at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in Ohio. His statute graces New York's Central Park, although it is dedicated to all of the sled dogs participating in the serum delivery.
At the time of the Nome serum run, another dog, Togo, was already 12 years old. He led his sled dog team on the serum run for almost twice the distance of any others, over 250 miles. He also a statute in New York City, albeit in a Lower East Side children's playground, not Central Park.
Fritz was Togo's half-brother, nearly 10 at the time of the famous run. During part of the journey, he was the co-leader of the team, alongside his sibling. According to the "New York Times," Fritz died in 1929 while he was on exhibit at Gimbel's department store in New York City.
Mishka the Talking Husky
YouTube has launched many people and pets to fame and fortune. Among them is Mishka, the talking husky. She doesn't exactly talk in a known human language, but she certainly makes a lot of interesting noises. The blue-eyed beauty "speaks" -- she says something that sounds like "I love you" -- and howls her way through numerous videos. Mishka has done the round of talk shows and and appears in commercials.
Jack London and Huskies
While Jack London's title character "White Fang" was fictional. and only 1/4 husky and 3/4 wolf, the writer had a great affection and admiration for the breed. Although his other famous canine character, Buck, in "The Call of the Wild," wasn't a husky, London vividly recreates sled dog racing. In a 1900 Harper's Weekly article, London informed his readers of "Husky -- The Wolf Dog of the North." He extolled the breed for independence, hardiness and being "well capable of deductive reasoning. He will unerringly connect cause with effect."
There's nothing more appropriate than shouting, "Go, team," for sports organizations named for huskies. Among them are the University of Connecticut's Huskies, with an all-white husky mascot. The first "Jonathan," as each mascot is called, was named after Jonathan Trumbull, who served as the state's governor during the Revolutionary War. He arrived in 1934. The University of Washington Huskies' mascot, as of 2013, is actually a malamute.
- New York Times: Spirit of a Racer in a Dog’s Blood
- Siberian Husky Club of America: The Siberian Husky -- A Brief History of the Breed in America
- PBS: Sled Dogs -- An Alaskan Epic -- Balto
- Disney Video: Introducing Mishka The Talking Husky!
- Petside: The Famous Talking Dog Mishka Celebrates 10 Years
- Total Pro Sports: 25 Best Real Animal Mascots in College Football
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.