Today, October 1st, is National Fire Pup Day. Man’s Best Friend has held many different jobs throughout history. Fido has been a shepherd, guardian, tracker, and guide, to name just a few. However, fire dogs definitely rank up there with the best and bravest of our canine companions. A vet shines the spotlight on fire dogs in this article.
As you probably know, the Dalmatian is the breed most often found in firehouses. This adorable spotted pup has some interesting traits. Although the breed’s exact lineage is unknown, we do know that Fido was initially a hunting dog from Dalmatia, which is part of what is now Croatia. Another fun fact about Dalmatians? They’re born white! Those iconic spots start appearing when the puppies are about two weeks old. Friendly, loyal, and intelligent, the Dalmatian is also referred to as the English Coach Dog, the Carriage Dog, and the Plum Pudding Dog.
Fido began working as a fire dog back in the 1700’s. The breed was already in common use as carriage dogs, in part because they had an unusual, natural affinity to horses. This was very helpful, as Dalmatians turned out to be very good at keeping horses calm at fires. They would run along the horse-drawn carriages, clearing a path and leading the horses to the fire. Sometimes they would even run under the carriage axles! These faithful pups were also excellent guard dogs, and could often be found protecting firehouses and horses. Although we don’t use horses as much these days, Fido is still good buddies with Silver, and is often found accompanying the Budweiser Clydesdales.
Needless to say, Fido’s role as a fire dog has evolved quite a bit. His original position, as horse-companion and guardian, is no longer needed. However, fire dogs are now very recognizable and beloved cultural icons. They can still be found in many firehouses, serving as mascots, and providing moral support, comfort, and companionship to firefighters.
One can’t discuss Dalmatians without mentioning the beloved Disney movies. In addition to the original cartoon classic 101 Dalmatians, there is a live-action version, a sequel, 102 Dalmatians, and the most recent addition, Cruella. One celebrity Dalmatian, Louie Dog, was the mascot of the rock band Sublime. Louie Dog appeared in several of their videos, and was often ‘spotted’ onstage with them during concerts.
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