Use a teaching guide that includes discussion ideas and activities for use with Togo.


by Robert J. Blake

Discussion and Activities

For pre-reading ideas and background information on multiculturalism, see Around the World in 80 Books: A Multicultural Guide.

Using a map of Alaska and the table below, have students chart the 1925 Serum Run, carrying the diphtheria antitoxin from Anchorage to Nome in a dogsled relay race. Note the names of the mushers on each leg of the trip.

Point out that while Kaasen's lead dog, Balto, was memorialized for his achievement, Togo had braved merciless cold and traveled a total of more than 350 miles, far more than any other sled dog, on this life-saving journey. Ask if this lack of recognition makes Togo less of a hero. Share the story of Akiak, another dog who has run the Iditarod. Discuss what Robert Blake means in his Epilogue when he writes, "...the hero is not always the dog who crosses the finish line first, but, as in this case, the dog who made the last lap even possible."

In commemoration of the intrepid men and the hard-driving dogs in the 1925 Serum Run, the Iditarod (The Last Great Race) is run annually from Anchorage to Nome. Dog teams of 12 to 16 dogs and their mushers cover over 1150 miles in 10 to 17 days. Even though there is team competition, this race is less about winning and more about survival, and is not officially over until the Red Lantern, the very last team, makes it to Nome. Have students role-play journalists covering this event to write an article for The Tundra Times, a local Alaskan newspaper.

William Shannon 52 miles from Nenana to Tolovana
Dave Green 31 miles from Tolovana to Manley
Johnny Folger 28 miles from Manley to Fish Lake
Sam Joseph 67 miles from Fish Lake to Tanana
Titus Nickoli 34 miles from Tanana to Kallands
Dave Corning 24 miles from Kallands to Nine Mile
Edgar Kalland 30 miles from Nine Mile to Kokrines
Harry Pitka 30 miles from Kokrines to Ruby
Billy McCarty/Edgar Nollner 28 miles from Ruby to Galena
George Nollner 18 miles from Galena to Bishop Mountain
Charlie Evans 30 miles from Bishop Mountain to Nulato
Tommy Patsy 36 miles from Nulato to Kaltag
Jack Screw 40 miles from Kaltag to Old Woman
Victor Anagick 34 miles from Old Woman to Unalakleet
Myles Gonangnan 40 miles from Unalakleet to Shaktoolik
Leonhard Seppala 91 miles from Shaktoolik to Golovin
Gunnar Kaasen 53 miles from Golovin to Nome

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