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Posted on Friday, February 17th, 2012

Dogs with Jobs: Firehouse Dogs

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Ever see a fire truck in a parade without a Dalmatian in the driver’s seat or in the lap of a smiling fireman riding in back? Ever visit a firehouse without having one of those black and white spotted dogs come wagging up to you?

When you think of a firehouse dog (a dog associated with firefighters) chances are the image of a Dalmatian comes to mind. The breed has a proud tradition of serving with firefighters that has been documented back to about 300 years to England.

It all began in the days of stagecoaches. Horse theft was so common back then that many stagecoach drivers strung a hammock between two stalls at night, and then slept behind their horses to guard against thieves.

But, if the driver owned a Dalmatian, he could sleep in the house or the stagecoach hotel. Why? Because it was observed that Dalmatians formed an amazingly tight bond with horses. When they became close as with a team, no stranger would dare lay a hand on them. And, since every firehouse back then had a set of fast horses to pull the pumper wagon, it became common for each group of firemen to keep a Dalmatian.

Unlike human firefighters, firehouse dogs don’t receive paychecks, and formal records don’t track their service time or daily tasks. All the firefighters stationed at that firehouse contribute to the dog’s financial and other care. Whatever else a particular firehouse dog’s life entails, it will include plenty of companionship and lots of love!