Black and white image of Leonard Seppala holding the real Togo

Watch ‘Togo’, The Movie (2019): It Will Be the Best 2 Hours You’ve Spent During the Coronavirus Crisis

Scrolling hypnotically through my social media feed in search of some common sense in the current panic-ridden world, I came across a friend who shared how his family filled the self-quarantine hours. 

His suggestions weren’t altogether alike the examples of parents who do scavenger hunts and agility games to entertain anxious (read: energy-driven) stay-at-home children. But they were, nonetheless, true jewels: he spent a couple of the lockdown hours watching ‘Wonder’ and ‘Togo’ together with his kids. 

A Precious Movie to Watch Alone or with Family

The first one of his movie suggestions is on my ‘Favorite 100-or-so Movies of All Times’ list and I couldn’t recommend it more as a family movie: kudos for the wonderful heartwarming story starring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson as parents of the wonder-turned-hero fifth-grader Auggie (played by Jacob Tremblay). ‘Wonder’ will teach you a few lessons and remind you of the powers you don’t think you have. 

That movie, I knew. But ‘Togo’? Nope, it was new to me. Seeing that it has a 92% user rating on Rotten Tomatoes, my curiosity was stirred, especially since I know how merciless the spoiled ketchup fruits can get. (For comparison, ‘Wonder’ has a score of 85%.)

But when I read it pictures the uncommon bond between dogs and humans, I didn’t hesitate for a moment – my curiosity went over the top. I went straight on to watch it that evening. 

Togo Changed Me, and It Might Just Change You, Too

A single movie rarely has that powerful effect to change me, but ‘Togo’ did. If you love dogs, this one will be a treat. For those that you want to discover your truths about the movie without getting any spoiler alerts, this may be a good moment to stop reading this overview. However, I will try to avoid overly disclosure of the facts so that your viewer’s experience doesn’t suffer as a result. 

Regardless of how factual your knowledge gets before you watch it, ‘Togo’ has mesmerizing cinematography and a screen-worthy true story that represents powerful emotions via pictures and story flow I couldn’t possibly elaborate in a text. Therefore, even if you read all the movie reviews and watch all the trailers, you will still enjoy the actual movie show immensely. 

This is a Disney fable so part of the story at the end has been changed. A take on what has happened is told in this video. However, from the comments below, it’s noticeable that what is the true story of Togo remains to be questioned. Since it is a new movie, books are being written and facts gathered from multiple resources as we speak. 

Despite the incongruity in stories, the majority of the facts are indisputable and well represented in ‘Togo’ (2019). One thing is certain – Togo is one remarkable, special dog.

Togo: The Braveheart Husky

For those of you that haven’t heard of it, Togo is the name of the lead sled husky running the most dangerous 261 miles of the 1,085 km or 674 miles long Alaska Serum Run that took place in 1925. A relay of twenty sleds was formed to help the isolated and epidemic-stricken town Nome in Alaska get the diphtheria antitoxin, which would help the sick children overcome the disease. 

Yes, a century ago, people died from the disease. The adverse weather and poor infrastructure blocked any other means of transportation. Dog-ran sleds were the only viable option. Each of the dog teams from the relay ran approximately 30 miles. It was only Togo that mastered an incomparable challenge of running almost ten times more. 

Given the comfort we currently live in, ‘Togo’ is a true eye-opener. Togo’s owner, the Norwegian Leonhard Seppala, breeds working dogs in the Alaska mountains, living in harsh conditions, that, from today’s perspective, look insurmountable. His wife keeps him company while he tries to realize the cherished dream of finding gold, an incentive for many of his kind that moved to Alaska in search of a better life. 

Togo, smaller in size than the others, is at first adored by his wife but not so by Leonhard who thought the Siberian husky is too weak to be a sled dog. Slowly but persistently, Togo manages to grow into his owner’s heart, showing incredible stamina and intelligence. Despite being smaller, he has the heart of the winner, he is a true wolf. 

Why I Recommend Seeing ‘Togo’

Togo will not only win his master’s heart and soul but the hearts of anyone watching this incredible tale of a dog’s loyalty and devotion. The movie is rated as ‘PG, yet it can be a delight for young children with a parent’s support during a few specific scenes. 

Why should you watch it? Here’s why”

  • Enjoy exhilarating photography of Alaska’s ice sceneries and amazing green nature in warmer periods
  • Gain perspective of how spoiled, comfortable, and healthy we are compared to a hundred years ago, i.e. develop gratitude
  • Appreciate dogs even more for how forgiving and loyal they are. (Spoiler alert: get the tissues ready for some real tearjerker moments.)
  • Bond with family or other loved people in your love focusing on what truly matters 
  • Smile at Togo’s escape endeavors – beautiful moments of husky’s devotion and relentless desire for freedom
  • Maintain your sanity intact and forget about the Coronavirus for at least a couple of hours

Dog lovers, you won’t need much persuasion to watch this gem of a true story. Others, after you are done with ‘Togo’, dogs may finally start growing under your skin. You have most probably heard of Balto, the lead dog of the final sled that got his pictures taken by the local newspaper photographer, and whose statue is now placed in NYC Central Park. At the time, he got all the credit.

 

Togo’s skeletal remains have been donated to the Peabody Museum at Yale University by his last owner, Mrs. Elizabeth Ricker of Poland Springs Maine. He may not have been recognized for his heroic success back in 1925 but at least this movie is a partial tribute to his contribution to the lives of dozens of sick children who didn’t face favorable prospects without his bravery. Togo, thank you! 

Featured Image Credit: History 101

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