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11 of the bravest dogs in history

By: Noel Kirkpatrick on May 23, 2011, 12:10 p.m.
Balto with Gunnar Kaasen

Photo: Brown Brothers/Wikimedia Commons

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Balto was the lead sled dog on the last leg of a famous, life-saving medical delivery to Nome, Alaska, in 1925. There was a serious outbreak of diphtheria in the city, and medical officials needed antitoxins to prevent the upper respiratory tract infection from spreading. The nearest doses were in Anchorage. Officials were forced to rely on dogsleds to deliver the antitoxins because the extreme cold made other modes of transport impossible. The run took seven days.

By the time Balto and his team were on the road with their cargo, sled driver Gunnar Kaasen (with Balto at left) could barely see in front of him and was forced to rely on the dogs to reach Nome without his direction. Balto was celebrated as a hero upon their arrival in Nome and later with a media tour. A statue was dedicated to him in Central Park in New York City.