The stars of one of the newest original movies coming to Disney+, Togo, celebrated completion of the film with a special screening in NYC.
The movie premieres on Disney+ December 20.
Here’s some background on the historic story of Togo:
Togo was one of the offspring of Seppala’s former lead dog, “Suggen”. He was named after the Japanese admiral Tōgō Heihachirō. Initially, he did not look like he had potential as a sled dog. He only grew to about 48 pounds (22 kg) in adulthood and had a black, brown, and gray coat that made him appear perpetually dirty.
Togo was ill as a young puppy and required intensive nursing from Seppala’s wife. He was very bold and rowdy, thus seen as “difficult and mischievous”, showing “all the signs of becoming a … canine delinquent” according to one reporter. At first, this behaviour was interpreted as evidence that he had been spoiled by the individual attention given to him during his illness. As he did not seem suited to be a sled dog, Seppala gave him away to be a pet dog at 6 months of age.
After only a few weeks as a house pet, Togo jumped through the glass of a closed window and ran several miles back to his original master’s kennel. This devotion to the team impressed Seppala, so he did not try to give him away again. However, Togo continued to cause trouble by breaking out of the kennel when Seppala took the team out on runs. He would attack the lead dogs of oncoming teams, “as if … to clear the way for his master”. However, one day, he attacked a much stockier malamute leader and was mauled and severely injured. When he recovered, Togo stopped attacking other teams’ lead dogs. This would eventually prove a valuable early experience, as it was difficult to teach a lead dog to keep a wide berth of oncoming teams.
When Togo was 8 months old, he proved his worth as a sled dog. He had run after the team yet again and slept, unnoticed, near the cabin where Seppala was spending the night. The next day, Seppala spotted him far off in the distance, and understood why his dogs had been so keyed up. Togo continued to make Seppala’s work difficult, trying to play with the work dogs and leading them in “charges against reindeer”, pulling them off the trail. Seppala had no choice but to put him in a harness to control him, and was surprised that Togo instantly settled down. As the run wore on, Seppala kept moving Togo up the line until, at the end of the day, he was sharing the lead position with the lead dog (named “Russky”). Togo had logged 75 miles on his first day in harness, which was unheard of for an inexperienced young sled dog, especially a puppy.
Togo began training, and after a few years filled the lead dog position. He became one of Seppala’s most treasured dogs, a close and mutually beneficial relationship that would continue to the end of Togo’s life. At the time of the historic Serum Run, he was 12 years old and had been a lead dog for 7 years.
Togo was the best dog that ever traveled the Alaska trail.