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Consider the Dalmatian...


I heard the other week why Dalmatians have been historically associated with fire departments. Which is that special category of trivia that answers a question I didn't know I had asked but am glad to have answered anyway. It's trivia serving the same purpose as good advertising.

Anyway, it turns out that in the early days of firefighting, hoses and water pumps were carried to the scene by horse drawn carriages which looked like so.


Also back then, firefighting wasn't a municipal service you paid for with your taxes. Neighborhoods, unions, ethnic groups and street gangs had their own firefighting units. Whoever got to a fire first and put it out got paid. Often fires went on burning as competing firefighitng units battled with fists and weapons over who got to put out the blaze. This, not surprisingly, is why firefighting ended up becoming a municipal service.

So fire engines were powered by horses and horses had to run fast to get said engines to the fire first. But what if the horses didn't feel like running that day? What if they were tired, cranky, sleepy or it was that time of the horse month?

Enter Dalmatians. Dalmatians were bred from way back as herding dogs whose job was to get cattle all running in the same direction. So firefighting untis began employing Dalmatians to run with the horses in order to keep their pace rapid and steady.

And the association stuck.

Dalmatians in fire helmet

Origins of the name "Dalmatian", incidentally, are not so interesting. The bred originated from the Dalmatia region of Croatia (via Podictionary, an awesome podcast about word origins)

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