Dalmatians 101

It’s Fire Prevention month! Good timing with Jack O’Lanterns and Halloween right around the corner.

My picture book, The Cookie Eating Fire Dog, is chock-full of fire safety tips, one set for adults and one just for kids. But the question I’m asked most often is: Why Dalmatians? How did they end up with fire-fighters? Wait ’til you hear! I did a little research and learned all about this spotted four-legged wonder. Every fire house should have one.

Here’s why:

– In the days before fire trucks and engines, fire wagons were used that were pulled by horses. Guess who gets jittery and anxious when around a big fire? Besides you and me, that is. Horses. Fire-fighters were on the lookout for a way to keep the horse power calm. Guess who fit the bill? Dalmatians and horses get along splendidly! Plus, Dalmatians take their jobs seriously (when they’re not eating cookies). They’d race along the fire wagon, keeping the horses under control, and they’d chase away stray dogs that tried to run alongside or nip at the horses’ hooves. When the fire fighters jumped off the wagon and dashed to the fire, the Dalmatian would keep on keeping the horses happy, while standing guard to make sure no robbers showed up to steal valuable fire equipment.

– Now that we have fire engines, Dalmatians are still used in fire houses as watch dogs and because they’re expert at catching mice and rats. Yay!

– Guess who the first president was to have a Dalmatian? Benjamin Franklin was also a fan.

– Dalmatians can run for hours without getting tired. They like to swim, too, which made them the perfect WWII spy.

Our spotted friends were used to send secret messages across enemy lines. When the other side saw a funny looking, spotted dog running around, they’d laugh and pay no attention to what the Dalmatian was really doing.

Dalmatians are the only breed of dog with spots all over (including on their toenails, in their ears and mouths, too). They are stubborn, smart and athletic (when they’re not eating cookies, of course.) Is it any wonder why they made the perfect fire dog?

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