Saturday, November 27, 2010

Fire Dogs

Buddy and Jackie with Smokey, 1940

The family stories recalled mainly by Aunt Ann (and recorded by Bambi) is that Grandpa had two dogs, Teddy & Smokey.

Teddy, 1939
Teddy was the first. He was a retired fire dog from the station.

"He wasn't neutered and he used to get out to go carousing with the lady doggies. When he would come home Grandpa would yell at him and call him a bum etc., which Grandma and others didn't like - he had a people name and I guess they were afraid the neighbors would think he was yelling at a real person in the house for bad behavior."
Ann considered the second dog Smokey her dog. "Her Smokey" died while she was down South with George during the War, about 1944-45.

Smokey, 1944

Rex in Engine Co. #8, 1929
Fire dogs are usually Dalmatians. They still ride on the fire trucks.

Dalmatian next to the driver in York, Pennsylvania

Dalmatians were traditional coach dogs, which is probably why they became fire dogs.
The story is that they aren't afraid of the horses and can run at their feet.

1865 General Rufus Ingalls with his coachman and a Dalmatian

The last horse-drawn fire wagon in NYC, 1922

Why would you want a dog running with the horses? Before there were sirens and flashing lights the fire dogs ran ahead to warn people that the horse-drawn engines were coming. The dogs apparently continued to run ahead of the gas-powered engines after the horses were replaced in the 1920s. In retirement Teddy used to run in front of the McNally family car on the way to church.

Brooklyn Company #224 with Nellie's pups

We had this book when we were kids. It's advertised as
"the story of Kerry, a real dog, who became the mascot of Hook and Ladder Company Number 29 of the New York City Fire Department. After nine years of faithful service Kerry answered his last call. His death resulted from injuries sustained in the line of duty. Kerry now rests in the Hartsdale Canine and Animal Cemetery, Westchester County, New York."
See more about the McNally dogs at this post

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