Togo the sled dog helped to prevent an epidemic by transporting a life-saving serum to the people of Nome, Alaska

By Kelli Bender
October 24, 2019 09:00 AM
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Many have heard the story of Balto, a sled dog who completed the final stretch of 1925 serum run across hundreds of miles of harsh Alaskan tundra to prevent a diphtheria epidemic in Nome, but this heroic canine did not complete this feat alone.

While Balto is the sled dog immortalized in Central Park, there were other dogs who faced the same unforgiving weather and terrifying odds to help transport the much-needed antitoxin serum to Nome. Disney+ is highlighting one of those forgotten hero hounds in the the film Togo.

Based on a true story, Togo follows veteran dogsled trainer Leonhard Seppala (played by Willem Dafoe) and his lead dog Togo. In the winter of 1925, when the first signs of a potential diphtheria epidemic appeared in Nome, Seppala joined the serum run and chose Togo, a smaller, older Siberian husky, to lead his team, and their precious antitoxin serum cargo, through 50 below zero temperatures, gale force winds and whiteouts.

“It’s a beautiful story of an underdog (no pun intended) and how we can learn from adversity,” Dafoe told PEOPLE about the film.

Chris Large/Disney

What makes Togo especially touching is the bond the lead dog and his musher develop as they put their trust in one another to complete this harrowing journey.

“They will see beautiful nature, a world past, with touching relationships between the characters in a suspenseful adventure story,” Dafoe added about what viewers can expect from the film.

All of these elements help bring the story of one of history’s more heroic dogs to life, showing what one canine is willing to do to save countless people, including the man he loves most.

Togo will premiere on Dec. 20 on the new streaming service Disney +.

To read more about Togo, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE on new stands Friday.