“Dogs do speak, but only to those who know how to listen.” This popular quote from Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk certainly rings true in New York City, where fans of Fidos can now call to hear the “voice” of a canine whose courage still speaks volumes about the loyal nature of our four-legged companions.
A Siberian Husky born in 1919, Balto gained fame in 1925 as the leader of a pack of sled dogs who charged through treacherous conditions on the last leg of a life-saving mission from Nenana to Nome, Alaska to deliver a diphtheria serum. Less than one year after the dogs’ heroic feat, a bronze depiction of Balto in honor of the effort of the Husky and the other brave dogs who took part in the serum run was unveiled in New York City, with the celebrated dog himself attending the event.
For close to a century sculptor Frederick Roth’s creation has been a silent sentinel, guarding one small section of Central Park. But Balto is silent no longer, thanks to the Talking Statues project.
A unique undertaking started in 2013 by documentary filmmaker David Peter Fox in the Danish city of Copenhagen, there are now statues that “speak” in London, England; Helsinki, Finland; Berlin, Germany; Vilnius, Lithuania and the US cities of Chicago, New York City and San Diego. In all, a total of 35 NYC sculptures of famous faces — William Shakespeare, Harriet Tubman, George Washington, Mahatma Ghandi and Frederick Douglass among them — will tell their tales in 90-second messages to visitors.
To hear Norwegian actor Jakob Oftebro bring Balto to life, sightseers can use their smartphones to scan the QR code at the statue and receive a call from the iconic image.
More About Balto
Young dog lovers who want to learn more about the life and times of Balto can watch the 1995 animated movie which bears his name, or read one of the many children’s books about the stout-hearted Siberian Husky, including The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto, Balto’s Story (Dog Heroes), or The Adventures of Balto: The Untold Story of Alaska’s Famous Iditarod Sled Dog.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia