When my daughter, Rachael was in elementary school, her class took a field trip to the local fire station to learn about how firemen protect the lives and property of our people. Arriving at the station house, they saw a huge red pumper engine with its shining chrome hardware filling the engine bay. But the children’s attention was diverted away from the huge fire engine by a different firehouse attraction: the company’s fire dog.
History tells us that the iconic Dalmatian fire dog dates back to the 1800’s. Dogs and horses are very compatible animals, so the dogs were easily trained to run in front of the engines to help clear a path and guide the horses and the firefighters to the fires quickly. They are still chosen by many fire fighters as pets in honor of their heroic service in the past.
This particular fire company had a mascot that all the children clamored to see and pet. Eventually, they began discussing the purpose of the firehouse dog.
The first little boy said, “The dog is there to brin the firemen good luck.” The second boy said, “No, the dog is there to keep the people away from the fire while the firemen put out the fire.” Then a little girl chimed in, “You’re both wrong. It’s the dog’s job to find the fire hydrant!”