DATE 1 / 9 / 2020
Have you ever wondered why Dalmatians were chosen to be firefighters? Me too. The truth is, in today’s society there is nothing specific about Dalmatians that makes them best suited for the job. Instead, they are merely the firehouse mascot at this point, often still chosen to honor their heroism in the past.
When firefighters first came about they were privately owned entities. The firehouses were competitive with each other, and oftentimes even fought for territory. Since they were not funded by the government, the firefighters were paid by insurance companies for putting out fires and saving buildings, houses, stables, etc. The first team to get to the fire and save the day got paid, plain and simple. Since their “trucks” were actually horse-drawn carriages, they chose Dalmatians as the firehouse dog because of their natural compatibility with horses. The dogs would run alongside the horses keeping them calm in the presence of fire, and using their keen sense of smell to get to the scene as quickly as possible. Dalmatians are also known to be rather aggressive. In today’s society that is rarely seen as a positive, but in the days of competitive firefighting this was a major plus. The dogs were very protective of the firehouse, the horses, and the truck, often fending off competing firefighters that planned to sabotage their competitors.
In the days of privatized fire fighting there was a certain pride that came with showing off your rig to the entire town as you rushed to put out the fire. Having a pack of Dalmatians running alongside your coach was a delight to see, adding a prestigious and stunning piece to the puzzle. People would point and stare with elation when these beautiful animals came racing down the street leading their horse companions right to the fire. It quickly became a status symbol, the more Dalmatians you had leading the way the better off your company seemed to be doing.
As fire trucks sprung onto the scene in the early 1900’s, the need for a pack of dogs on your fire team was reduced to almost nothing. Fortunately, the tradition lives on to this day. Seeing a pack of Dalmatians in a firehouse is a rare sight to see, but having just one or two is still very common. They act more so as a team mascot in today’s industry, paying homage to the heroism that was displayed in generations past by their ancestors.
Fighting fires can be a stressful, dangerous, and sometimes thankless job. Dog owners know just how nice it can be to come home to your pup after a long day at work. As a firefighter spending countless hours in the firehouse awaiting tragedy we can only imagine how nice it must be to have a loyal companion roaming around. Dalmatians aren’t the only dog you’ll see in a firehouse, but their legacy has certainly lived on past their days of service.
The Lilly Brush Team