Why did old-time fire trucks have dogs (usually dalmatians) on board? Were the dogs just mascots, or did they serve some purpose?
Originally, dogs ran in front of horse-drawn steam engines, barking loudly to alert pedestrians and vehicles so the fire wagon could pass unhindered. Dalmatians were fit and loyal enough for this work, and they got along well with the horses. With the advent of gasoline-powered fire engines, the dalmatians weren’t really needed any longer, but they became a kid-friendly symbol of the honorable profession of fire fighting.
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