"Heroes with grimy faces" - Sir Winston Churchill

"Heroes with grimy faces" - Sir Winston Churchill

January 31, 2008

CHANCE THE FIRE DOG

Modern fire dog

The first canine officially documented as a fire dog was ``Chance'' of the London Fire Engine Establishment in 1828.

In a letter to the The Fireman magazine published in the 1800s, an old London fireman recalled: ``Fire after fire he attended until he was well known in London as 'Chance, the watermen firemen's dog.' Chance remained a faithful friend of the firemen for many years. He ultimately went nearly blind; even then he used to follow the engine,'' according to the book The Firefighters Best Friend.

While Chance wasn't a dalmation - his breed was never determined - ``he was known for following the crew to every fire and rescuing several people,'' the book said. ``He rotated throughout the firehouses in London, spending a few days at each house. As a result, every firefighter in London knew him.''

What's more, firemen took a collection to buy a brass dog collar with the inscription: ``Stop me not, but onward let me jog, for I am Chance, the London Firemen's dog.''

When he passed away, London newspapers published obituaries, and ``one paper reported that while on his deathbed, Chance tried unsuccessfully to rise up and follow the men one last time as they rushed to a fire,'' the book said.

After his passing ``his favorite house at the Central Station of the London Fire Brigade paid a taxidermist to stuff him and place him in a glass case,'' the book said. ``After the taxidermist completed his work, he decided to instead sell the famous dog to a showman on the other side of town, who let visitors glimpse the dog for a penny. The showman unknowingly allowed a fireman in for a viewing. Several hours later, the entire squad returned to retrieve their dog.''

The firemen mounted the case in the fire station, and placed a memorial plaque nearby that read: ``Chance, well known as the firemen's dog. Died October 10, 1835. This is humbly inscribed by the Committee of London Fire Establishment and their obedient servants.''