Hunka hunka burnin' dog
Well my friends, at long last I made that pilgrimage that all Dalmatians must eventually make – I visited a fire station. Yes, this past Saturday I accompanied Kate, Andrea, Julia, Lypstyck Gyrl, and my fondest pet Sareet on a tour of a Hollywood fire station so that I could see first hand what my life might have been had I not passed up firefighting to compete in the Iditarod.
First, let me give you a brief history lesson on how we most daring of dogs came to be associated with the hose jockeys. It all began in the summer of 1969; that bastard Nixon was in the White House, the Black Panthers had planted a boot in whitey’s ass, and aunt Trixie was hunkered down in a foxhole somewhere outside Danang, giving Charlie all the hell a spotted beast can dish out. Well, actually it didn’t start in 1969 at all, but I’ve always wanted to start a story that way. It really started back in the days when firefighters traveled by horse and carriage, in the summer of 1969; that bastard Nixon was in the White House, the Black Panthers… Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. Anyway, we Dalmatians were chosen to accompany the firefighters for two reasons: one – our affinity for horses, and two – we’re bad motherf***ers.
Of all the many breeds of dogs, Dalmatians are the best with horses. This is due to the little known fact that before the time of humans, Dalmatians used to breed and race horses for money (or in dog terminology – cookies). You may find it of interest to know that the popular American racehorse Seabiscuit was not named by his owner Jeff Bridges, but by Bridges’ Dalmatian “The Dude,” who recommended the title based on the fact that his ancestors had made their fortune at the track wagering in sea biscuits.
Because we are so adept at managing equines, early firefighters would have us run along beside the horses that pulled their fire carriages to keep them in line and protect them from stray dogs. If some gnarly pit bull inbreed tried to run up and spook a horse on its way to a fire, he could be sure to get his tail cropped old-school style. After the invention of the combustion engine, firefighters simply kept us around because we look so cool riding up on top of the fire truck with our spotted ears flapping in the wind.
All my life I’ve sensed a twinge of envy when I’ve heard the sirens of a passing fire engine, felt a rush of adrenaline as I’ve watched someone’s house burn to the ground, and experienced a flood of overwhelming emotion when I’ve witnessed a table scrap fall to the floor (though, to be honest, this has nothing to do with firefighting). So it was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream when on Saturday I finally walked through the doors of Station 51 like Roy DeSoto in my yellow fire cape and red hat, ready to battle El Fuego. The first thing that caught my eye was the classic fireman’s pole that led from the poker parlor down to the garage. How many nights I had dreamt of hastily crushing out my half-smoked Pall Mall, gulping down my last swig of Joe, throwing on my jacket and leaping onto the pole, anxious to throw my beautiful fur in harm’s way. Against my better judgment I gave the pole a test drive and found to my hind end’s dismay that it is ill-suited for four-legged beasts lacking opposable digits.
My consternation at my swift twenty-foot fall onto unforgiving concrete was quickly dispelled when I set my eyes on the beautiful red chariots that whisk these hose jockeys to and fro. My primary motor carriage experience to this point has been with a Honda Civic, which, needless to say, is a fair bit less impressive than a fire engine and conspicuously lacking in the siren and ladder department. It was immediately apparent upon seeing one of these glorious red machines up close for the first time that I looked absolutely radiant beside it. I must, if ever I have the means, acquire one of these vehicles for myself.
The female two-leggers I was with were, of course, beside themselves flirting with the rather well-proportioned hose jockeys. The slightly-cocked head micro-smiles, the flapping eyelids, inappropriate handling of the hose... Lypstyck Gyrl was literally in one of the firefighter’s pants. I tried my best to hold my notoriously comedic tongue when the axe that was supposed to hang from her belt dragged on the ground due to her abbreviated stature (I’m not exactly Shaquille O’Pig myself, so I shouldn’t laugh).
I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t get to go racing down La Brea on top of the fire engine or drag a flaming body out of a raging inferno, but I did feel like I was home, if only for a brief while. Reflecting on it now I realize that I prefer the life of leisure and cookies to a life of saving lives and eating flames. Some are born to serve, and others are born to be served. Leave the heavy-lifting and third-degree burns to the two-leggers my canine friends. As for me, I’ll be on my back getting a belly rub from my cookie wench.