by Taylor from Roseville

"It was Balto who led the way. The credit was his."-from Kaasen, who was the musher of Balto

"I gave Balto, my lead dog his head and trusted him."
  The story of Balto the sled dog has been told for many decades but sadly, some of the most important information about him has been lost or led astray. For one thing, Balto was not brown but black with white markings on his chest, belly, muzzle and legs. Some sources say that the heroic Siberian husky was fifty-five to sixty pounds, with dark, liquid brown eyes. What Balto was most known for, however, was his journey during one of the most treacherous storms, to bring back diphtheria antitoxin to Nome for the deadly outbreak of diphtheria epidemic. Through the journey, Balto's heroic deeds proved him a hero, even though many had doubted him. His bravery and leadership were proved during the ferocious storm that had swept through the trail, obliterating everything in it's path.  But for all of Balto's effort, not all of his background is known. 

  Balto was a Siberian husky who was born on March 19, 1993.  With unknown parents and a barrel chest, Balto was considered by everyone to not be a good lead dog, so he was fated to never be on any breeding charts.  In fact, his musher, Kaasen, would not have chosen Balto if he had known how fierce a storm was coming.  Against all odds and with his musher not believing in him, Balto ran with his team which included Tillie, Fox, Sye, Billier, Old Moctoe, and Alaska Slim, and made it through the storm. However, Balto did not run the most treacherous terrain like Togo did, but he was still remembered as the most heroic dog of that journey.  Togo was cast aside, given only one medal, and not remembered by most, not at all getting the attention he deserved.  Also, even though Balto did not run the most treacherous terrain, he still ran the longest stretch (mostly because the next musher was asleep).  Even though the storm was so terrible that Kaasen could barely see his hand in front of his face, Balto prevailed, running two stretches in an extremely bad storm.

  Almost entirely lost in the dark cloak of the night, Balto ran on, the trail invisible, because of the snow all around, but still Balto braved the storm, keeping his determination and his bravery inside his heart.  He ran on, even when a sledder was waiting, though asleep, to continue the trail to Nome.  Even though it was less than -23 degrees Fahrenheit (-31 degrees Celsius) and with strong, freezing winds, Balto continued, never looking back, and never giving up.  His bravery, though admired, was not credited, because most assumed that Kaasen had done all the work.  Most assumed this, because of Balto's barrel chest, which gave the disadvantage of people doubting him.  On the other hand, Balto's barrel chest made him strong, even through the mighty blizzard that tested his courage and bravery to the limit.  Balto was three years old when he made the journey, but the length of his stretch may have later caused canine arthritis in his rear legs when he was older, but Balto still braved the storm.

  Balto had many leadership qualities that helped Kaasen and his team trust him.  "I couldn't see the trail.  Many times I couldn't even see my dogs, so blinding was the gale.  I gave Balto, my lead dog his head and trusted him.  He never once faltered.  It was Balto who lead the way.  The credit was his." Kaasen said.  When Kaasen gave Balto his head to run, Balto never faltered, therefore keeping his team and musher believing in him.  This trust was established by Balto's leadership, which made every dog feel safe and secure.  Without Balto's speed and leadership, more than five people would have died, but since Kaasen had trusted Balto to get them back to Nome. Balto had made it in a world record, five days and seven hours.  Through those five days and seven hours, Balto ran his heart out, leading his team and never causing them or Kaasen to doubt him.  Each team ran about six miles per hour, so bad was the storm and the frozen terrain.  As a result, the storm caused the lead dogs to make their leadership qualities known.

 Balto saved lives in his run to Nome and gave everyone a hero to root for, but many other dogs had also run for the good of Nome.  Many were forgotten, but their deeds helped Balto get the serum to Nome.  Without them, many more people would have died or have gotten sick.  Nome had many dogs to thank, but they simply thanked Balto, because they liked his story and because he had done the last two runs.  They even made a statue of Balto, but the other sledders were only presented with medals when their dogs had done exactly what Balto had done, running through a terrible blizzard.  Balto proved his leadership and bravery, but his background eludes many people, however, everyone has the ability to be a hero, and the only thing holding you back is yourself.

Page created on 12/15/2013 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 12/15/2013 12:00:00 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

The Saving of Balto - Balto is ill and mistreated until a businessman finds them and raises donations after the race to get Balto and his team to Cleveland after the race.
General Information About Balto - Balto runs in near whiteout conditions.
Balto and Togo - The serum race starts 1,000 miles away in Anchorage.

Extra Info

Balto was named after Samuel Balto, who was a Norwegian explorer from 181-1921.

When Balto was older, his health, sight and hearing were failing.

Towards the end of his life, Balto lived in a zoo, because his owner wanted to make more money.