The Husky Heroes event at The Morton Arboretum originated in 2002. Since then, Husky Heroes has grown into an annual tradition at the Arboretum. The event includes dogsledding demonstrations, photo opportunities, and information on adoption. But, did you know these furry friends actually have an impressive background and are considered American heroes?
Siberian huskies were originally bred by the Chukchi people in Siberia to pull heavy loads long distances through difficult conditions. They aided in the Chukchi people’s survival by traveling over ice and snow to fish, for general transportation, and to keep warm in extremely cold temperatures.
In 1908, huskies were brought to Alaska to be used as sled dogs during the gold rush. In 1915, Leonhard Seppala, a Norwegian musher, won his first All-Alaska Sweepstakes, a 408-mile dog sled race through Alaska, with a team of Siberian huskies.
In 1925, Seppala became a national hero when he and 20 other mushers and 150 dogs traveled day and night across the dangerous frozen Alaskan mail route as part of the famous “Serum Run” that saved the city of Nome from a diphtheria epidemic. Another famous musher, Gunner Kaasan, and his lead dog Balto, braved the worst of the trip, traveling through a horrendous blizzard to deliver the antitoxin that ultimately saved the people of Nome. The incredible journey inspired the motion picture Balto, and for more than 80 years, a statue of the famous husky has stood in Central Park in New York.