When you see a Dalmatian, what’s the first thing you think of? You might think of 101 Dalmatians, 102 Dalmatians or most commonly, a fire fighter. Why are Dalmatians associated with fire fighters and fire trucks though? Let’s look back at the history of Dalmatians and their mysterious relationship to firemen and uncover the truth to these beautiful beasts.
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According to Live Science, Dalmatians were protectors from the beginning.
“It all dates back to when people used horse-drawn carriages. But, at first, the dogs didn’t have anything to do with fire fighters. People realized that Dalmatians would run alongside horses, keeping pace even when sprinting long distances. The dogs would even defend the horses from other dogs or animals that could spook or attack the horses during the ride.”
Although these dogs were very useful for protection, they were seen as a status symbol as well.
“English aristocrats during the early 1700s were among the first known to use Dalmatians to accompany their carriages. The dogs became a status symbol of sorts; the more Dalmatians you had running besideyour coach represented your social standing.”
Quickly after, firefighters started using Dalmatians in their horse drawn carriages and at their fire stations.
“When a fire alarm sounded, the Dalmatians would run out of the firehouse, barking to let bystanders know that they should get out of the way because the firefighter’s wagon would soon come roaring by. Once the wagon was out on the street, the Dalmatians would run beside it.”
“The brave, loyal dogs, also served an important purpose once the wagon approached a fire. Horses are afraid of fire, and the Dalmatians’ presence could distract and comfort the horses as they pulled the wagon closer to a blaze. The Dalmatians also stood guard near the wagon to ensure that no one stole the firefighter’s belongings, equipment or horses.”
So what happened once motorized fire trucks took over? The Rover, says Dalmatians continued working with fire fighters as their doggy assistants and mascots.
“In the 20th century and beyond, fire stations across England and America kept dalmatians on-site as firehouse residents and mascots. The tasks of a modern firehouse dog can include:
- Serving as companions for firefighters
- Guarding belongings in the firehouse
- Riding along to fires and standing guard over the truck
- Acting as the fire company mascot
During the 20th century, Dalmatians and other fire pups also made animportant move into education, helping firefighters demonstrate fire safety and emergency preparedness for school and community groups.”
In 2016 Dalmatians are no longer used to assist fire fighters but every once in a while they’ll get an opportunity in a local parade or at an event for fire fighters.
Dalmatians will always be known as the fire fighting mascot and the dotted doggy protector.