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The Canine Hall of Fame: Titina
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Given the success of the Norge flight, Mussolini made Nobile a general and commanded him to build another airship, the Italia. Instead of promoting fascism as Mussolini intended, however, the Italia would become synonymous with disaster. It crashed in a storm over the frozen wastes of the Arctic in 1928, and half of the crew was killed. Titina and General Nobile, who broke his leg in the crash, were among the survivors.

In the wake of the catastrophe, Nobile’s reputation and character were also shattered. Not only did many blame him personally for the crash, but most importantly, he was charged with abandoning his men; he had allowed himself and Titina to be rescued first, leaving the rest of the survivors behind on the drifting ice pack for weeks. Disgraced and disowned by his native country, he was forced to resign his commission.

By the time Nobile died in 1978 at age 93, he had spent 50 years trying to salvage his tarnished reputation, writing six books trying to explain the Italia disaster. His last, The Red Tent, became a Hollywood film starring Sean Connery, and featured a little Terrier as Titina, the only member of Nobile’s crew who never abandoned him.
 

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This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 34: Jan/Feb 2006
Gay Salisbury, co-author of The Cruelest Miles, The Heroic Story of Dogs and Men in a Race Against an Epidemic , divides her time between New York and Alaska. The Cruelest Miles

Photograph courtesy Transpol'air

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