ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The tradition of Dalmatians in firehouses dates back more than a century, when the animals used to run alongside firefighters in horse drawn carriages.
Rockford Fire Department uses a more modern approach to help those on the front lines.
Axl, the Rockford Fire Chief’s dog, has grown up with the Rockford Fire Department. The Dalmatian was rescued from the pound and may belong to Chief Derek Bergsten, but “Everyone loves seeing him and giving him a pet and saying hello,” he said.
Axl spends most of his days with the Chief, occasionally going on calls and providing comfort to firefighters and fire victims.
“One thin he can do, when I’m getting dressed, he hears my belt and he’ll run back because we’re going on a call!” Bergsten said.
Bergsten said he’s grown up around Dalmatians, and while Axl is just as loving as his past pets, he says he’s definitely unique.
“He loves to wear bandanas. He has to wear them all the time. If you take it off, he needs another one because he will get in the laundry and run around the house with it,” Bergsten said.
Axl is often a main attraction at community, known for his soft fur and calm demeanor.
“Is he a lazy dog? If he’s not doing anything, he’ll take it easy, but he likes his exercise,” Bergsten said.
Bergsten said, while Axl is technically his family pet, he’s become a member of the Rockford Police Department.
Axl will be going with the Chief to his new job in Fort Collins, Colorado in May.