I understand one of the reasons dalmations aren’t as commonly kept by fire departments today is that they are no longer needed to help guide horse-drawn fire engines through city streets. I’ve heard that another reason is because, at the fire or other emergency scene, dalmations had the habit of munching on the corpses of victims. Is this true?
As I understand it, dalmations rode with early fire crews partly just as a mascot and partly to guard the equipment – even guarding it from competing fire crews back when they were competitive and not municipal.
I’ve never heard of them guiding the engines through the streets. And the corpse munching sounds absurd. Why would a dog, unless it was a starving street cur, run up and start eating a dead body? And I think the fire crew wouldn’t have any trouble stopping that behavior, if you get my drift.
Sounds like a ridiculous story to me.
IIRC, they were kept to scare away other animals when the brigade was running out to a fire.
There are two generally accepted reasons that dalmatians were kept by firefighters in the days of horse-drawn apparatus. The first is that dalmatians make great coach dogs, they are more than willing and able to run in close proximity to running horses (other dogs are too smart to get near a 2000 lb animal’s legs), acting like an animated siren. The second reason, as already stated, is that they did a good job of keeping vermin from the horses when on-scene, and could keep the horses in one place at a fire (the horses were detached from the apparatus when they got to the fire and led away…horses don’t really like the noise and confusion of a fire scene).
Today, obviously, we don’t need to have a dog running alongside an 18 to 40 ton fire engine on its way to a call. Some companies do still keep a dalmatian, since we are creatures of habit. My station, however, keeps a black cat. So we buck the trend, what can I say.
Dogs aren’t kept today for one big reason: liability. What happens when your beloved firehouse mascot takes a chunk out of a visiting child’s leg? Besides that, whose going to pay for the dog’s food and medical costs? If you think the department is going to, you’re sadly mistaken (many departments can’t afford to put fuel in the trucks, let alone pay for a dog’s shots). If you think the firefighters are going to pay, well, most don’t get paid enough to feed themselves, the dog’s going to have to fend for itself.
Besdies, dalmatians are too yippy. Give me a black lab any day.