Elizabeth Holmes bought an un-potty trained Siberian husky as Theranos crumbled, and it was a poignant symbol of the messy situation

  • Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, as the company was entering its end days, took a cross-country flight to buy a Siberian husky to serve as its mascot, according to a new report in Vanity Fair.
  • The dog, named Balto after a famous sled dog, wasn’t potty trained and felt free to relieve itself anywhere and everywhere inside Theranos’ headquarters.
  • Holmes tried to train Balto to be a rescue dog, but it was a misguided effort, according to the report.

As Theranos imploded, one of the top priorities of company founder Elizabeth Holmes was to get a dog to serve as its mascot, Vanity Fair’s Nick Bilton reported Wednesday.

In September 2017, following Walgreens’ cancellation of its deal with the blood-testing company and amid a slew of regulatory investigations, Holmes took a first-class cross-country flight to purchase a Siberian husky puppy from a breeder, according to the report. She named the nine-week-old dog Balto after a sled dog who helped deliver life-saving medicine to an Alaskan town after an arduous 600-mile journey. The dog was intended to be a symbol of hers and her company’s perseverance, Bilton said.

Instead, the dog proved to be something of a fiasco. Because he wasn’t potty-trained, he would relieve himself in various places inside Theranos headquarters, including during board meetings when Holmes was meeting with the company’s directors, according to the report. Holmes had security officers assigned to her – who were paid by the company – walk the dog.

At one point, she decided that Balto should be trained to be a rescue dog and spent her weekends taking him to a class, according to Vanity Fair. This didn’t work out well.

“Huskies are not bred for rescue; they are long-distance runners, and Balto failed out,” Bilton wrote.

Federal prosecutors indicted Holmes in June, and Theranos shut down in September.


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