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Nome serum run lead dog's bloodline still alive in New York

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch

According to a lengthy story by the New York Times, the bloodline of Togo, the lead dog in Leonhard Seppala's famous 1925 Nome serum run team, is still alive and part of mushing.

The tale begins with Winnie, a direct descendant of Togo, who pulls double duty as a racing dog and a show dog.

Siberan huskies are often called "Slowberians" because they're not as speedy as the huskies of mixed origin comprising most elite Iditarod teams, but Winnie works as a lead dog in races around New York, and she's the top-ranked Siberian husky nationwide when it comes to dog shows. This week, she'll be competing at the Westminster Kennel Club show in Madison Square Garden.

The Times report then moves into the rather depressing story of what happened to Seppala's team after it received international fame for its role in the life-saving effort to carry emergency medical supplies to Nome during a diptheria outbreak:

Winnie’s breed does not have royal roots, but her lineage is fierce. It dates to what some consider the finest feat in dog-and-human history, a 1925 race to deliver lifesaving diphtheria serum to icebound Nome, Alaska. The event gripped the nation and later became an inspiration for the Iditarod race.

But after the headlines ceased, what happened to two of the lead dogs — Winnie’s forebear Togo and Balto, whose statue stands in Central Park — is a tale that reflects Americans’ quick creation and destruction of celebrities, involving Hollywood, a 10-cent circus, a Cleveland zoo, a ruined friendship and a sports controversy that, almost 90 years later, still raises the hackles of sled-dog drivers everywhere.

Read much, much more, here.