Togo the other dog

You have most likely heard about Balto the dog that saved the town of Nome, Alaska from an epidemic. In freezing and whiteout conditions, Balto delivered the serum. Using his sense of smell he found the right path to Nome.

In 1925 diphtheria was ravaging the town of Nome. They had serum, but it was expired. Rather than risking the expired serum the town doctor radioed for more serum. Because of the extreme cold and weather no train or plane could make the trip so sled dogs were used to transport the serum.

Dr. Welch had requested 1 million units of serum but they were not available.  However 300,000 units were found at the Anchorage Railroad Hospital and they were sent to Nenana for transport to Nome. The teams ran 674 miles across Alaska from Nenana to Nome.  20 mushers and over 150 dogs participated in the “Race for Mercy”.  The trip took five days to complete.

The team that transported the serum for the last 55 miles was Gunnar Kassen and his team of dogs led by Balto.  When Kassen reached Nome he became a celebrity, but he insisted that just as much credit be given to his lead dog Balto.  But there were others who made the run that did not get all the glory.

Another musher was Leonhard Seppala with 20 dogs, his lead dog was named Togo.  Seppala was supposed to pick up the serum in Shaktoolik and deliver it to Nome.  He raced 91 miles into the oncoming storm to pick up the serum. To save time he took a dangerous shortcut across the Norton Sound. (Even today the Iditarod does not cross the sound as it is too dangerous.) The temperature fell as he traveled, it dropped to -34° F but the gale force winds lowered the wind chill to -84° F. Racing the storm he made it to the other side a little over 100 miles outside of Shaktoolik.

Believing he had over 100 miles to go still to reach Shaktoolik, Seppala pressed on.   He spotted another team whose dogs were tangled from an encounter with a reindeer, but he decided not to stop as he needed to pick up the serum.  Suddenly he heard a shout, “The serum. The serum. I have it here.”  It was fellow musher Henry Ivanhoff who was supposed to deliver the serum to Seppala.  He informed Seppala of the fact that the epidemic had worsened, that was why they added more mushers.

With the situation being so desperate, Seppala decided to return across the sound. Cracking ice and drifting floes made this a risky move as Seppala could wind up stranded unable to reach the shore. Whiteouts of blinding snow left Seppala unable to see and wound up relying on Togo to find the way with his nose. But Seppala had faith in Togo to lead them there safely.

On a previous trip across the sound, the ice cracked and left a gap too wide for the sled to cross.  Racing across the ice, somehow Togo sensed the break and stopped short preventing disaster.  But it was too late as the ice had started drifting and there was no way off the ice floe. For over twelve hours they drifted across the water until the ice drifted near another floe that was still connected with land.

But still there was a gap of water over five feet wide, Seppala was unable to jump it or cross with the sled.  The had come so close but still they were stranded.  But Seppala had a plan, he tied a lead around Togo and heaved him across the gap on to the other ice floe.  Togo began pulling on the lead, bringing the ice floe closer to the one he was on.  But then the lead snapped and the end fell into the water, the floes were still too far apart.

But all hope was not yet lost, for Togo leapt in to the water and swam to the broken end of the lead.  Grabbing the end of the lead with his mouth, Togo once again began pulling.  Slowly the pieces of ice began coming together, little by little until finally they were close enough for Seppala to escape.  He drove his team and sled across the gap and headed for land.  Togo had saved the day.

This time though they could not afford such a delay, the serum had to get to Nome.  Through the storm they raced across the ice with Togo leading the way.  Fortune smiled upon them and they reached the roadhouse at Isaac’s Point by eight p.m.

Exhausted they rested until two a.m. when they set out across the sound once again.  The storm had increased and the ice was cracking, but Togo lead them straight and true.  The reached Little McKinley Mountain by daylight where Seppala turned to see that the ice they had crossed was now all cracked apart and drifting.  They had barely made it safely to shore.

Climbing to 5,000 feet they crossed the mountain, descending they saw their destination ahead.  Reaching the bottom of the mountain they headed to the roadhouse at Golvin.  There Seppala handed the serum to the next musher and fresh team of dogs.

By the time Seppala finally pulled into Nome, the newspapers were proclaiming Kassen and Balto as the heroes of the race for mercy.  Featuring one team was more exciting than the tedious list of many mushers.  Kassen and Balto even starred in a film about the run and toured the United States.

Togo however eventually got his due.  He was flown to Maine where he was bred and in 1930 became the father of the modern Siberian Husky breed. (Balto was not bred as he was neutered as pup, since he was considered an inferior specimen).  Also in 1997 the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo added statues of Balto and Togo outside of their wild wolf exhibit.


The Berenstain Bears Bear Country Fun Sticker and Activity Book By Jan and Mike Berenstain

bearactivityBook Description

The Berenstain Bears come to life in The Berenstain Bears Bear Country Fun Sticker and Activity Book that fans are sure to love! Join the whole Bear family in creative and interactive fun with 32 pages of age-appropriate activities such as word finds, mazes, puzzles, coloring pages, and colorful reusable stickers that are sure to please. Features Mama, Papa, Brother, Sister, Honey, and their friends from Bear Country.

My Review:

I loved the Bear family growing up, brother and sister and Mama and Papa, they were all special.   Now Jan and Mike have continued the tradition, keep the bears alive and fun.  32 pages of fun activities and 2 pages with 50 reusable stickers pack this book.  Mazes, crosswords, picture searches, sticker fun and coloring are all through the book.   Your child will love it and have hours of fun playing with this book.

This book is geared for ages 4 to 6, I give it a 5 out 5 stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Smoky The War Dog

In 2003 in Memorial Field on Valley Parkway, the Cleveland Metroparks dedicated a statue to the smallest war hero and the dogs of all wars. She stood only 7 inches tall and weighed only 4 pounds yet this little soldier won 8 battle stars on 12 combat missions. Smoky the Yorkshire Terrier was probably the cutest service member in WWII.

In February of 1944 in the New Guinea jungle, American soldier Ed Downy found Smoky in an abandoned foxhole. Thinking she may have been a pet of a Japanese soldier he took her to a nearby POW camp. But Smoky did not understand commands in Japanese or English.  Mr. Downy gave Smoky to Motor pool Sargent Dare who then sold Smoky to Corporal William A Wynne for 2 Australian pounds.  He sold her so he could return to his poker game.

In the next 18 months, Smoky lived in tents and shared C-Rations with Corporal Wynne.  They backpacked in the New Guinea jungles and went on combat flights. She spent hours dangling from a pack and even jumped from a 30 foot tower with a specially made parachute. Smokey served in the South Pacific with 5th. Air Force, 26the Photo Recon Squadron and flew 12 air/sea and photoreconnaissance missions. Smoky was credited with 12 combat missions and awarded 8 battle stars.  Corporal Wynne credited Smokey to saving his life while they were on a transport ship. As the ship deck was booming and vibrating from anti aircraft gunnery, Smoky guided Wynne to duck the fire that hit 8 men standing next to them

In January of 1945 Smoky’s status was elevated to War Dog and Heroine when she rose to the challenge to serve her country in a most unusual way. Corporal Wynne’s group was helping revamp a former Japanese airfield for use by American planes.  They needed to string communication wire under the airstrip which was a major challenge.  This three day job would have required digging up the airstrip and putting it out of action for that time leaving it vulnerable to Japanese bombing. Smoky solved the problem by helping guide the wire. They tied a string to her collar and Corporal Wynne coaxed her through the eight inch pipe under the runway.  She climbed through piles of sand accumulated in the 70 feet of pipe to bring the string out on the other side. Smoky’s special mission in the combat area of the Lingayen Gulf on Luzon resulted in teletype and phone lines being activated for the U.S. and Allied forces.

Not long after Wynne adopted Smoky, he caught dengue fever and was sent to the 233rd Station Hospital. After a couple of days, Wynne’s friends brought Smoky to see him. The nurses were charmed by the tiny dog and her story, they asked if they could bring her around to visit with other patients who had been wounded in the Biak Island invasion. For five days while he was in the hospital, Smoky slept with Wynne on his bed at night.  In the morning the nurses would collect her to take her along on patient rounds to help cheer up the patients.  At the end of the day they would return her to Wynne to spend the night with him again.

Smoky had a powerful effect on the soldiers in the hospital. She lightened the mood with her presence and her personality and Wynne noticed it.  They laughed as she chased the butterflies, and of course, they loved the tricks Wynne had taught her mostly to relieve the tedium.

The duo’s repertoire started modestly enough with basic commands, and Wynne soon had his diminutive charge playing dead. When Wynne would point one finger at her and yell “bang!” not only would Smoky fall over to the ground at the command, but she also would lie there listless while Wynne came over to poke and prod her and even as he lifted her from the ground.

Wynne eventually trained her to ride a homemade scooter, walk a tightrope and even spell her own name.  He had large cutout letters set out, and as he called them out to her Smokey would pick them up in order.

Word of their act spread, and while Wynne and Smoky were on convalescence furlough in Australia, they were invited to perform at a few hospitals. As he watched the men in wheelchairs holding Smoky in their arms, he could see the difference that the tiny dog was making. “There’s a complete change when we came into the room,” he says. “They all smiled; they all loved her.”

Smoky was hardly the only dog aiding in the recovery of wounded veterans in the aftermath of the Second World War. At an Air Force convalescent home in Pawling, New York, the medical staff witnessed the remarkable effect one dog had on a reluctant patient, completely changing his mental outlook. After that, they brought more dogs into the hospital and eventually built a kennel on the grounds to house them all.

The trend caught on, and in much the same way patriotic owners volunteered their dogs to serve with American forces fighting overseas, they brought their pets to serve as hospital dogs to provide uplift for injured soldiers as they recovered from their wounds. By 1947 civilians had donated about 700 dogs. In many ways, these dogs were the first therapy dogs, whose curative abilities were not only recognized but also harnessed to great effect.  Therapy dogs are still used today, visiting hospitals and nursing homes to help cheer up the patients.

After the war was over, Wynne and Smoky continued to tour hospitals, bringing their act to recuperating soldiers back home. In 1955 at the age of 12, Smoky retired.  Two years later at the age of 14 she died peacefully in her sleep in 1957.

As Bill Wynne remembers her, “She was just an instrument of love.”

Hannah and Michael – A love story

Hannah and Michael

One cold morning Arnold Fine, editor of The Jewish Press was walking home in Brooklyn. Looking down at the street he spotted a wallet that someone had lost. Being an honest man he opened the wallet and looked inside for identification so he could contact the owner. But all he could find were three lonely dollar bills and a crumpled envelope that contained a letter. The letter was worn and looked like it had been in the wallet for years; the legible thing on it was the return address.

Fine opened the letter hoping to find a clue to the owner, but his hopes sank when he saw that it had been written sixty years earlier in 1924. It was a “Dear John” letter, written in beautiful feminine handwriting. The writer named Hannah was writing to Michael to tell him that she would no longer be able to see him because her mother forbade it. Even though they were apart, she would always love him.

Unfortunately Michael had no last name and neither did Hannah so Fine was not able to find the owner that way. But Fine did not give up; he called the operator and inquired if she could help him. The operator was not able to give him a number, but transferred him to her supervisor. The supervisor called the phone number at the address on the envelope and asked if they would talk to Fine.

Fine asked the woman on the other end of the line if she knew anyone by the name of Hannah. She replied that they bought the house from a family who had a daughter named Hannah. But that was 30 years ago. She also told Fine that Hannah had to place her mother in a nursing home and they might have a contact number for her, even though her mother had passed away a few years before.

Fine thanked her and called the nursing home, the woman who answered explained that Hannah herself was now living in a nursing home. He then called the nursing home in which Hannah was supposed to be living. The man who answered told him that Hannah was staying there.

All though the hour was late, it was 10 p.m., Fine asked if he could stop by and see Hannah. The man answered that she might still be watching television in the day room if he wanted to chance it. Fine drove over to the nursing home and went to the day room where the nurse introduced him to Hannah.

Silver haired with a sweet disposition, she had a warm smile and twinkle in her eye. Fine showed her the wallet and told her about finding the letter inside of it. The second she saw the powder blue envelope with that little flower on the left, she took a deep breath and said, “Young man, this letter was the last contact I ever had with Michael.”

Softly she said,, “I loved him very much. But I was only 16 at the time and my mother felt I was too young. Oh, he was so handsome. He looked like Sean Connery, the actor.”

“Yes, Michael Goldstein was a wonderful person. If you should find him, tell him I think of him often. And,” she hesitated for a moment, almost biting her lip, “tell him I still love him. You know,” she said smiling as tears began to well up in her eyes, “I never did marry. I guess no one ever matched up to Michael…”

Fine thanked Hannah and took the elevator to the first floor. Now he had a last name for Michael and he was just a little bit closer to finding him. On the first floor the guard inquired if Hannah had been able to help him and Fine told him she had. He informed the guard that he now had name to go with the wallet he was trying to find the owner for. He then took out the wallet to show it to the guard.

When the guard saw it, he said, “Hey, wait a minute! That’s Mr. Goldstein’s wallet. I’d know it anywhere with that bright red lacing. He’s always losing that wallet. I must have found it in the halls at least three times. He’s one of the old timers on the 8th floor. He must have lost it on one of his walks.”

Fine thanked the guard and returned to the nurse’s desk where he told her this new information. They took the elevator to the 8th where they talked to the nurse up there.
The nurse told them that he might still be in the day room as he liked to read at night.

They entered the day room and saw an old man sitting there quietly reading a book. The nurse went over to him and asked him if he had lost his wallet. Mr. Goldstein checked his pocket, looked surprised and said yes he had. The nurse told him that Fine had found his wallet and was there to return it to him.

Mr. Goldstein smiled when he saw his wallet and offered Fine a reward for returning it. But Fine declined the reward and told Mr. Goldstein that he seen the letter in the wallet and read it hoping to find the owner.

The smile on his face suddenly disappeared. “You read that letter?”

“Not only did I read it, I think I know where Hannah is.”

He suddenly grew pale. “Hannah? You know where she is? How is she? Is she still as pretty as she was? Please, please tell me,” he begged.

“She’s fine…just as pretty as when you knew her.”

The old man smiled with anticipation and asked, “Could you tell me where she is? I want to call her tomorrow.” He grabbed my hand and said, “You know something, mister, I was so in love with that girl that when that letter came, my life literally ended. I never married. I guess I’ve always loved her.”

“Mr. Goldstein,” Fine said, “Come with me.”

They took the elevator down to the 3rd floor where they went to the day room. Hannah was still sitting there watching television. The nurse walked over to Hannah and gently tapped her on the shoulder.

“Hannah,” she said softly, pointing to Michael, who was waiting with me in the doorway. “Do you know this man?”

She adjusted her glasses, looked for a moment, but didn’t say a word.

Michael said softly, almost in a whisper, “Hannah, it’s Michael. Do you remember me?”

She gasped, “Michael! I don’t believe it! Michael! It’s you! My Michael!”

He walked slowly towards her and they embraced. The nurse and Fine left them together with tears streaming down their faces.
Three weeks later, Fine got a call at work from the nursing home. They wanted to know if he could come out that Sunday and attend a wedding, Hannah and Michael were getting married.

Michael wore a dark blue suit and stood tall and Hannah wore a light beige dress and looked beautiful. The residents of the nursing home wore their best and all turned out for the joyous affair. Fine was best man and the nursing home even gave them their own room. A 76 year old bride and 79 year old groom but they were as giddy as a couple of teenagers.

A love worth waiting for, they spent 60 years apart but had found their perfect love.

The Forgotten Recipe by Amy Clipston

recipeBook Description
After losing her fiancé in a tragic accident, Veronica Fisher finds solace in the old recipes stored in her mother’s hope chest—and in a special visitor who comes to her bake stand to purchase her old-fashioned raspberry pies.
Veronica Fisher knows how lucky she is to be marrying her best friend. Seth Lapp is kind, hardworking, and handsome—but most importantly, he loves Veronica.
When an accident on the job steals Seth away from her, a heartbroken Veronica is certain she will never love—or be loved—again. Yet when she discovers a batch of forgotten recipes and opens a bake stand to sell her Mammi’s raspberry pies, Veronica picks up a regular customer who gives her heart pause.
Jason Huyard was with Seth when he lost his life—a memory that haunts him still. So when he seeks out the grieving fiancée to convey his condolences, the last thing he expects—or wants—is to fall in love. Nonetheless, Jason soon finds himself visiting Veronica’s bake stand every week . . . and it’s for more than the raspberry pies.
Now, as Veronica’s heart thaws, Jason can’t bring himself to tell her he was there when Seth died. Can he ever reveal where he was on the day her life derailed? Or will his secret rob them of the second chance at love they both want?
My Review:
Amy has written a heart wrenching story about two strangers, one loses the man she’s going to marry, the other loses his best friend. You just can’t help but fall in love with Veronica and Jason and their families. And even though the most difficult times in Veronica’s life, it is clear that God is still working, even when it seems He is silent.
Sadly the recipe for the pie was not included at the back of the book. I would have liked to try making it.
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Homemade Spaghetti And Meatballs

Homemade Spaghetti And Meatballs

Helen Kurtz

Serves 8

Ground beef
Ground pork
Romano cheese
Parsley flakes
Beaten eggs
Bread crumbs


Chopped green peppers
Chopped onion
Chopped garlic


1 large Contadina tomato sauce
1 large Contadina tomato puree
1 large Contadina tomato paste


Italian seasoning
Romano cheese (grated)


Mix first set of ingredients together and form balls. Fry meatballs in oil with garlic cut into it, and then sauté chopped green peppers and onions in oil, drain peppers, onions and drippings and put in large pan. Add tomato sauce, tomato puree and tomato paste. Rinse each can with a FULL can of water and add to pot. Cover top of sauce with basil, oregano, parsley flakes, Italian seasoning and Romano cheese. Stir down and bring to a boil. Put in meatballs and turn down to warm and let cook down, stirring occasionally. Refrigerate overnight to let flavors blend.