Siberian huskies are working dogs whose endurance, intelligence, and tenacity suits them well to many jobs that have helped mankind tremendously.
Siberian Huskies are proven companions with superior canine intelligence; as such, huskies have made very good guide dogs. They are also excellent Search and Rescue animals, particularly because they love to seek and find, and they have strength and endurance that far surpasses many other breeds.
Historically, Siberian Huskies served humans well in the northern reaches of the arctic. Teams of Siberian Huskies were used for transportation to isolated Alaskan gold mines. Siberian Husky sled dog teams carried food and supplies to mining outposts, and brought back the sick and the inured.
One famous Alaskan Siberian Husky breeder was Leonhard Seppala, owner of the famed Balto, the dog recognized for leading his team into Nome, Alaska during the Diphtheria epidemic of 1925. Seppala was not the musher driving that famed team on; his assistant, Gunnar Kaasen, was. History and Hollywood have distorted the story, making Kaasen and Balto the only heroes of the day when in fact, a number of dog teams-including Balto's owner Leonhard Seppala-were instrumental in the life-saving run.
Diphtheria gripped the isolated Alaska town of Nome during the winter of 1925. Due to horrible blizzard conditions, the only way to transport the desperately need serum to save the residents of Nome was by dog sled. Leonhard Seppala was chosen to make an entire round trip to Anchorage with his team. After the team left, however, the plan was revised so that a relay of sled teams would be used to move the serum more quickly to Nome. Gunnar Kaasen was sent out afterward to join the relay with Seppala's dog Balto in the lead.
In the end, Seppala did meet with the other teams in the relay and did turn his team back towards Nome. All told, Seppala and his dogs battled through 260 miles of rough, wintry Alaskan terrain-more than any other team. Kaasen and Balto showed admirably, too, and covered the final 55 miles of the run. Because they made the actual delivery, Balto and Kaasen are heralded as the heroes of the run, but in fact, many others contributed significantly, and Seppala and his lead dog Togo more than any other.
The run from Anchorage to Nome-stretching better than 1100 miles-is now the course for the Iditarod sled dog race. The Iditarod commemorates the struggles of the mushers and their teams, and pays homage to the service of the Siberian Husky and its peer sled dogs.
After the 1925 serum run, the Siberian Husky was catapulted to fame and into the hearts of many who otherwise knew nothing of the breed. Siberian huskies came to be valued as pets and workers, and have thrived in America ever since.