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Firehouse Dog: Forgotten Champion

dalmatian statue

Volume 2 Issue 2 Fall-Winter 2015-16
By Madison Monroe


f you walk into any fire station in America, you will likely see a reminder of the close association between Dalmatians and firefighters. Dalmatians once served a vital purpose in the firefighting occupation. They were as important to firemen as German shepherds are to police.

Dalmatians in firehouses date back more than a century, to a time before automobiles when people used horse-drawn carriages. When the fire alarm sounded, the Dalmatians became a siren, bounding out of the station to clear bystanders out of the way for the fire wagon. They continued to bark their warnings alongside the horses all the way to the fire. Dalmatians have a natural affinity for horses and can keep pace with them even when sprinting long distances. The dogs became an irreplaceable part of the team.

Upon arriving at the fire, the dogs’ presence would comfort and embolden the horses. Horses are afraid of fire, but capitalizing on the bond between dog and horse, the firemen were able to pull the wagon close to blazing structures. As the men went to work putting out the fire, the Dalmatians would stand guard near the wagon to ensure no passerby stole the firefighters’ equipment or horses. They also served as pest control back at the station by chasing away and killing rats.

Some firehouses have kept the dogs around to preserve the historic tradition. Now just a mascot, the Dalmatian no longer runs alongside the truck, but rather rides shotgun inside…the proper place for such a loyal companion. brave flag

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