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The Real Story of Hero Dog Togo

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Togo was named after the underdog Japanese admiral Tōgō Heihachirō. Admiral Heihachirō was known for his success and victories in the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905), among other conflicts.

The story of Togo is one of defying all odds and coming out victorious.

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Because of his body size, Togo was undermined but yet at 12 years old, he was the pup who made the crucial delivery of medicine possible for a dying desperate town.

Real Story

In the winter of 1924-1925, a diphtheria epidemic was threatening the town of Nome, located on the southern Seward Peninsula on the northwestern coast of Alaska.  

Located 2 degrees south of the Arctic Circle, Nome was home to 455 Alaskan Natives and 975 European settlers.  

Diphtheria is a bacterial infection caused by exposure to the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae, often by way of direct contact or through droplets in the air (sneezing or coughing).

The only doctor there, Curtis Welch, only had expired diphtheria antitoxin at hand hence the death toll started rising. 

Without a fresh batch of antitoxin, it was estimated that the disease would claim the area’s entire population of approximately 10,000 souls.

He had ordered a fresh batch but the port was closed for winter.

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Togo had already been a lead sled dog for seven years by the time he was going for the serum run with his owner Leonhard Seppala and other sled dogs.

He ran over 250 miles (400 km) and managed to bring back the medicine and maneuver the pack through risky situations.


Walt Disney Pictures’ movie ‘Togo’ is based on the true story of the 1925 serum run to Nome, in which dog-sled teams relayed to transport diphtheria antitoxin serum through harsh conditions over nearly 700 miles to save the Alaskan town of Nome from an epidemic.

The film is directed by Ericson Core and stars Willem Dafoe. It is a timeless underdog story well executed.

The epic adventure film was directed by Ericson Core, produced by Kim Zubick, written by Tom Flynn and stars Willem Dafoe, Julianne Nicholson, Christopher Heyerdahl, Michael Gaston, Michael McElhatton, Jamie McShane, Michael Greyeyes, Thorbjørn Harr, Shaun Benson, and Nikolai Nikolaev.

The film was released on December 20, 2019, on Disney + rather than in theatres.

“It’s interesting. My past two films — including Invincible, which was for Disney — were theatrical releases.

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As a filmmaker, it’s always the hope that you have a theatrical release because people viewing it in a group audience is really a very special circumstance.

However, the truth is the marketplace and the audiences for these inspirational films — the things that used to get made all the time and put out in the theaters, as Invincible was and was number one at the box office the two weeks it was out — doesn’t exist as much anymore.

There was always that conversation that digital media was going to take over the theatrical experience at some point, and I think it’s upon us.

Frankly, one of the advantages of it is that we get that slow burn that you don’t otherwise get.

A film like this, I think is really going to affect people in a big way and word of mouth is going to do a lot for it.

When you’re trying to get into a theater, you’ve got to be incredibly competitive or you’re out.

So it’s nice that I know that it’s going to live for a long time on the service, and I think people will arrive at it in a different way. It’s new to me and I’ll have to see how it all goes.

But it certainly seems like it’s a new way and the best way to get our stories told and seen.” Ericson Core explained.

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