Fire dogs – why Dalmatians?

Narrated from: Special Dogs

Once, children dreamt of being policemen, astronauts or firefighters when they grew up. True, today many children would prefer to become Justin Bieber or something, but nonetheless firefighting will always be one of the most noble and selfless professions out there.

If you’ve watched movies, you may have noticed that there is usually a dog with a helmet on, hanging around the fire truck and looking sharp. Also, said dog is usually a Dalmatian. Why so?

Well, nowadays the “firehouse dogs”, as Dalmatians are fondly known, remain in the force mostly as mascots. However, once Dalmatians were on active duty in Fire departments all over the USA!

Recruiting Dalmatians started back in the days when there were still no trucks at all, so fire-carriages had to be used instead. And the horse-power of the Fire department’s vehicles was equal to the number of horses deployed to pull it!

In those days, fighting fires was a battle of life and death, and firefighters literally had to march into Mordor any time a fire got out of control. However, poverty was also a serious problem, so it was the usual practice for thieves to distract the driver left behind to guard the pump wagon, while others looted any valuables not nailed down.

A simple solution was found to this problem – fire dogs were recruited, and trained to run along with the fire wagon and guard it while firefighters were busy putting out the fire.

But why Dalmatians?

Well, back in those days relationships between horses and dogs were a complex issue – and very important, since horses were the main means of transportation!

Surprisingly, Dalmatians were popular for being fond of horses – and vice versa. Naturally, they were the logical choice for fire duty, especially since they were extremely loyal, obedient, and pretty hard to tackle if you were a thief.

It became natural to see one or two Dalmatians running alongside the fire wagon. Many people believe that the dogs used to bark at the horses’ heels to usher them on, and this may well have been so. However, today it is known that Dalmatians were valuable members of the fire brigades not only because of their prowess as guardians, but also because they kept the horses company. This was extremely important, since the horses on duty were usually chosen for speed and power, which meant that if they became restless, or just bored, this would spell trouble for entire neighborhoods.

In fact, it is believed that the company of Dalmatians helped the horses relax – perhaps the big animals even considered the loyal dogs to be pets of their own.

Modern day

Today, there is no need of horses in the fire department. However, many fire stations still keep Dalmatians on duty – in fact, the Dalmatian Sparky is the national mascot of the fire brigades.

This is due to tradition – and to gratitude. The loyal Dalmatians served their time in the fire brigade, and earned the respect of their human co-workers. In fact, there are many stories of Dalmatians risking their lives and jumping into burning buildings to save the lives of trapped firefighters.

So, there you have it: loyalty, bravery and a good relationship with horses! All the necessary ingredients to make the perfect fire dog.

That, and dashingly good looks of course!

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