In 1925, the small town of Nome on the edge of Alaska was struck by an outbreak of diphtheria. To deliver in city life-saving serum, 20 teams of sled dogs had to be together to overcome more than 1000 kilometers in the snow and ice. However, the story primarily became feat one dog, says the BBC.
Monument to Siberian husky named Balto in new York city. Photo: Shutterstock
They say the dog is our best friend. Sometimes she and our Savior.
Of all the dogs that took part in the relay to deliver the serum to Nome, the most distinguished two Siberian husky — Balto and Togo.
Today, dogs of this breed who compete in exciting races on sledge, excelling at the physical endurance of many outstanding athletes-people. How do they do it?
Husky came from Siberia, a fur trader William Husak at the beginning of the XX century, when the North-West of Canada to the Yukon continued, “the gold rush”. Husak struck breed those sled dogs used by the Chukchi.
For thousands of years the Chukchi travelled by dog sleds hundreds of miles of Arctic tundra. Selective breeding has created the perfect breed of sled dog able to withstand the cold and years of hard work.
In 1909, the Goose with their dogs took part in the famous dog-sled race between the towns of Nome and Candle in Alaska, a total distance of 657 km In competitions for many years was won by teams of Alaskan Malamutes.
“Siberian rats” goose was less than half the Malamutes, but they are ahead of many of the local team, getting an honorable third place. Malamutes bred for the carriage of goods, were tougher, but the huskies pulled the sled faster.
Siberian husky Husak was the gold standard for sled dogs — their size, the correct angle of the pelvis, length of back and width of shoulder provide a longer step.
Although hounds are faster than the huskies, while running they make big leaps in the air. This is a great technique for a sprint, but disastrous for the teams, because the sled will pull them back.
Already in 1910 the following year in the race for Alaska first came Siberian husky. Led a team driver with Noma, a Norwegian named Leonard Seppala.
His victory will be remembered in 15 years in January 1925, when the Department of health in the Prefecture will face a crisis — an epidemic of diphtheria.
Diphtheria is a bacterial infection that affects the nose and throat. If left untreated, it can be fatal. Today this rarely happens, because most people are vaccinated, but in 1925 it was not so.
The outbreak happened at the worst for Noma time. The city was cut off from the rest of Alaska is the coldest in the last 20 years, in the winter, and the local stocks of diphtheria antitoxin was not.
Without it the city doctors predicted mortality rate to 100%. The nearest serum could be transported by rail, was Ninane at a distance of 1085 km.
On 24 January the Department of health Noma voted unanimously for the transport of serum from Nenana to Nome by a relay of dog sled.
Using the U.S. post office, which is regularly used sled dogs to deliver mail to Alaska, the route was shared between 20 teams. Seppala had to run the penultimate section from Catolica to Golovin.
This route, the postal service usually performed for 25 days, but this time it was too long. In harsh weather conditions, the serum could sustain only six days. The dogs had to run the distance in less than a quarter of the usual time.
The first task was simple — do not freeze to death.
Compared to other breeds Siberian huskies have an undercoat of very fine, twisted hairs, which retain heat against the skin as a light jacket, explains veterinarian Kelly was Credil.
When dogs sleep at night, they curl up into a ball, covering his nose with his fluffy tail. It warms the air they breathe.
Besides, unlike other breeds, the coat of the husky in the winter almost does not grow and does not fade. This allows the body to conserve valuable animal proteins and fats, necessary for the formation of hair.
Many of the mushers (the drivers) who took part in the Race of mercy, frostbite to hands and face. To protect vital organs, the human body sends blood to them, leaving the extremities vulnerable.
Unlike people, paws dogs do not lose heat. The only area on the body sled dogs that they can amorosity, it’s the nipples.
All these properties helped Siberian husky Leonard Seppala to survive during the race. They had to run 170 miles from Nome to meet the latest member of the relay.
The validity of the serum went on, Seppala decided to take a short cut, crossing the Bay of Norton Sound on the ice. It was a risky decision, because the ice cover was unstable.
In addition, the team covered a snow storm. Seppala saw nothing around.
To avoid the deadly patches of open water, the driver has fully entrusted the management of his lead dog Togo.
That coped with the task great. Moustache, or vibrissae, to detect changes in air flow. A key role is played by special sensors-pads located at the base of the vibrissa. The husky these pads more than any other breed.
Thanks to centuries of breeding huskies are also very intelligent. Chukchi required a dog that could navigate the snow and ice.
Another feature that was extremely important for sled dogs and hoped Seppala, like other drovers, is the ability to teamwork.
To raise good dogs for the sleds needed a playful breed of dog.
“Pull sled is essentially a game because the dog gets an immediate reward,” explains researcher dogs Raymond Coppinger.
“Playfulness is also an important social feature that promotes teamwork, enhances communication between man and dog and reduces aggression among the animals,” adds the scientist.
For the conclusion of this breed, the Chukchi were systematically selected a smart and playful dog — breeding has helped to significantly reduce aggression in Siberian husky.
Working as a team, dogs, Seppala passed the dangerous path across the Bay and transported the serum to 146 km near the town of Nome.
The last stage of the relay has performed the musher Gunnar Kaasen, his team headed Siberian husky named Balto. They delivered the serum to Nome for half a day before the end of its shelf life and saved the lives of 10,000 people.
Race of mercy brought the Siberian husky into world fame. Balto immortalized in a bronze statue that stands in Central Park in new York, which, however, is pretty unfair, because he was only one of many dogs who have coped with this difficult task.
In 1930 the American kennel club handlers recognized the breed Siberian husky, setting very specific criteria for her.
“Each breed usually begins with a very small population, explains Coppinger. All Siberian husky originate only from a few specimens from nurseries in new Hampshire and Quebec. It was the dogs that Seppala was called” Siberians”.
The transition to the tribal system of cultivation meant that the Siberian husky will no longer be Champions in running in harness.
“Dogs who are winning now are not purebred husky, but a cross between Siberian and Alaskan huskies, which in turn are the result of crossing the best of the Siberians, beagles, Malamutes, collies and other breeds,” explains geneticist (and the musher champion) Heather Huson from Cornell University in Ithaca, new York.
Today’s breed is the Siberian husky differ from their ancestors, but this applies to any breed of dog. Dachshunds have a long body, than 200 years ago, the noses of pugs more flattened.
The new breed replacing the old the competition, as happened, for example, with the Alaskan husky.
Although these dogs are now competing for the sake of entertainment, almost a hundred years ago, their ancestors saved the city from extinction.