Best Stuffed Dog


The secluded star of Cleveland's palace of taxidermy was once the most famous dog in the country, even before he inspired a kids' movie. In 1925, Balto, a Siberian husky, led a team of sled dogs through the last stretch of a relay across Alaska, bringing an antitoxin to the town of Nome to stop a diphtheria outbreak. The dogs made national headlines, and the Iditarod sled race was founded in their honor. But two years later, a Cleveland businessman found Balto and his team in Los Angeles, neglected and miserable. He quickly raised $2,000 from Clevelanders to buy the dogs, who got a hero's welcome in a Public Square parade. Balto died fat and happy in Cleveland's zoo in 1933 and got stuffed for posterity. He's resided in the Museum of Natural History ever since. Sadly, Balto's getting old, and he spends most of the time in cold storage. But the museum hauls him out for brief appearances now and then -- especially during the Iditarod in March. And the gift shop sells Balto figures and children's books year-round.