The Quest For Togo
For those who know me, it’s no secret I have a passion for the history of the breed. I’ve spent countless hours looking at historic photos, reading various texts, and generally getting lost in the rabbit holes you can end up on in the internet. In 2015, while on one of these adventures I stumbled across a somewhat blurry photo linked to a Facebook post from the Yale Peabody Museum. The photo was a cropped section part of a larger skeletal display of canines of various breeds. This particular post was a “guess the breed” edition of a trivia day from 2012. The breed was guessed and a clip of the placard was posted simply reading “Siberian Husky”.
In other readings I had recalled that upon Togo’s passing his remains were taken to the Yale Peabody Museum for preparation. His pelt was custom mounted as were his skeletal remains. The remains were donated to the museum while the pelt was placed on display at the Shelburne Museum in Virginia. Later to be moved to the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Museum In Alaska. From there it seems it was largely forgotten that the great sled dog and forefather to the recognized breed remained part of the Yale Peabody Museum’s archives. It was not even certain that the skeleton photographed in recent postings was one in the same. I set the thought aside for the time being.
Years later at the Siberian Husky National Specialty the topic arose once more as I discussed a captivating, yet very accidental find, with breed historians Bob and Pam Thomas. Though it was found to be interesting there was room for much doubt if Togo’s skeleton could actually still remain. And if so, what could this mean educationally to the breed? The spark was relit. I had to know if this was in fact Togo and if there was any way to prove it.
I started by reaching out to the Yale Peabody Museum through their Facebook page where I first found the photo that sparked my interest. While waiting for a response I began searching the digital archives and found the skeleton of the Siberian Husky catalogued as YPM MAM 7243 also Catalogued as “Togo”. The museum’s Facebook page responded with a suggestion to contact the Collection Director of Vertebrae Zoology. I sent an email and waited. A year passed with no response so I decided to give it one last try this past December.
Yesterday the response I had been waiting and hoping for arrived. Confirming what my heart already knew. The skeletal remains that were on display all those years ago is in fact that of the famed Togo. Donated to the Museum on December 5 1929 by his last owner Mrs Elizabeth M Ricker of Poland Springs Maine. The excitement was overwhelming to say the least.
Below you will find the correspondence and photo reply to my inquiry. I hope you share the excitement I felt!
Growing up in Montana my love of the Siberian Husky started at a young age. It has been quite a journey so far. There has been much to learn and still a lot more yet to learn! I truly believe that we are never too old, too experienced, or too full of ourselves to learn something new. I also believe that knowledge is useless unless we are willing to share it with others.