dalmatians  
 
Not too many years ago, horses and Dalmatians were common sights in the fire house. Horses were needed to pull the Steamers, and the Dalmatians guarded and guided the team as they raced to the call.

 

http://www.publicsafety.net/dalmatian.htm

 

 

 

 

The use of the breed as a coaching dog may even go back to the days of the Pharaohs. For centuries the breed has been used with ears entirely cropped away and padlocked brass collar, as follower and guardian of horse-drawn vehicles. It was this that brought the Dalmatian to the fire house as the dog that would clear the way ahead of or around the horse-drawn apparatus. The breedís build blends speed and endurance. Its gait has beauty of motion and swiftness, and strength. The Dalmatian has vitality and fortitude to keep going until the alarmís end. Since the breed has a natural instinct for coaching, Dalmatians and horses have a natural affinity. The dog traditionally worked clearing the path before fire apparatus during the horse-drawn era. They frequently ran under the rear axle, the front axle, or, most difficult of all, under the pole between the lead or following horses and chase off other dogs or animals that would bother the horses, thus speeding the apparatus to an alarm. To this day the breed remains the only recognized carriage dog in the world. His love for working (and firehouses) is his most renowned characteristic, but it in no way does it eclipse the breedís renown for friendship. That is the reason that the Dalmatian found employment in, and now is part of the tradition of the fire service.

Dalatians have been used throughout history for serious work. They have been sentinels on the borders of their homeland of Dalmatia and Croatia during wars. They worked as shepherds, as draft dogs, as hound dogs, as hunting dogs, as retrievers and as preforming dogs. Dalmatians are not only intelligent, but they also have excellent memories. Their speed, endurance and lack of a fear for horses, enabled them to become superb coach dogs for the horses and the engines.

Dalmatians first known as "coach dogs" were first used in the 17th, 18th and 19th. century in England, Scottland and Wales. Wealthy aristocrats sought out the unusal looking spotted dog for use with their coaches. They are very physical and strong and muscular and able to run long distances. They would run along side the coach or just behind the rear of the horses. These eye catching canines lent an air of superiority to the coaches of the wealthy as they traveled through the vilages. The dogs were an important part of any stable that housed teams of pulling horses. A stable dog has a calming effect on the horses and makes them feel comfortable in their stalls. Many of the dogs were said to have litter right in the same stalls as the horses.

Horses are gregarious and feel the need for company. The dalmatians served this purpose. They would run along side the horses or under the axle of the coach and keep up with the team for as much as 20 - 30 miles per day. They would also help to clear the way for the team and keep other dogs from interfering with the horses.

Also, horse theft was so common back then that coach and stage coach drivers used the dogs as guards to protect the team and the luggage in the coach.