Elizabeth Holmes, a blonde woman with an army of black turtlenecks who at least one person has described as someone who “absolutely has sociopathic tendencies,” has been known to lie. Her company Theranos—which she claimed was capable of running hundreds, if not thousands, of diagnostic medical tests with a single drop of blood—gave patients fake test results for years. Holmes deceived investors to drum up a $9 billion valuation for the company. She could not answer a number of questions in her 2017 deposition, as she was being investigated by the SEC for fraud.
She also reportedly likes to lie about what kind of dog she has. Holmes bought her Siberian husky in 2017, according to Vanity Fair, when things were really bad at Theranos. She named him Balto, as in, yes, the beloved sweet boy who saved lives during a 1925 diptheria outbreak by delivering antitoxins to a small town in Alaska. The dog was more of a brand-building exercise for Holmes than a four-legged best friend:
The metaphorical connection was obvious. In Holmes’s telling, Balto’s perseverance mirrored her own. His voyage with the life-changing drug was not so different from her ambition.
Which was extremely useful to Holmes:
In an industry full of oddballs, Holmes—a blonde WASP from the D.C. area—seemed hell-bent on cultivating a reputation as an iconoclastic weirdo. Having Balto seemed to help fortify the image.
And was even more helpful when she lied and told anyone who’d listen that Balto was a wolf:
Around this same time, Holmes says that she discovered that Balto—like most huskies—had a tiny trace of wolf origin. Henceforth, she decided that Balto wasn’t really a dog, but rather a wolf. In meetings, at cafés, whenever anyone stopped to pet the pup and ask his breed, Holmes soberly replied, “He’s a wolf.”
But we mustn’t look down on Balto for the actions of his owner, for he had no control over what Holmes said or did. He did, however, poop all over the Theranos office, and for that, we can say Balto really is a true American hero and has a nose for the morally right thing to do:
Holmes brushed it off when the scientists protested that the dog hair could contaminate samples [...] Accustomed to the undomesticated life, Balto frequently urinated and defecated at will throughout Theranos headquarters.
I hope Balto has a nice life, whether that’s with Holmes (who still tells people he’s a wolf), or perhaps, I don’t know, with me, a person who would love a dog and would never dramatize aspects of their genetic background to make myeslf look cooler. Just saying! Godspeed, Balto.