Wallace: The Canine Who Wanted to Be a Fire Dog

Wallace became famous in history for wanting to become a fire dog and for dedicating his life to serving his community.

Firemen and Wallace the fire dog at Central Fire Station in 1898

At a fund raising parade for the Lifeboat Funding Appeal in 1894, Wallace was seen following the Fire Brigade through the streets of Glasgow. After the parade, he continued following the firemen and their horse drawn wagons back to the Central Fire Station. His owner fetched him back to his house but Wallace kept returning to the station. Eventually he was allowed to stay and ended up spending the rest of his days there as their mascot and helper. Wallace became a favorite with the firemen and the town's people.

When the fire alarm sounded Wallace would accompany the men to the fire, running a good distance ahead of the wagon warning the people to get out of the way. Many spectators who watched the dog were at a loss to understand how Wallace always seemed to know the way to the fire. Some believed the dog just had good instincts on knowing where to go, but actually he was taking his direction from the driver who would use his whip to signal a right or left turn.

People would often drop by the station to visit Wallace. One day an elderly lady stopped by and noticed he had a sore paw. To help protect his paws on fire outings she bought the dog four small rubber boots that were made specially for him. I am sure Wallace appreciated the lady's kind gift, but he only wore them once and lost two of them on the road back from a call out.

Wallace passed away in 1902. Many mourned the death of the dog "who worked his wee paws off for seven years, leading the Fire Brigade back and forth from the fires in the city, day and night." A number of poems were submitted to the Firemaster of the Glasgow Fire Brigade as a tribute to Wallace after his passing, and several books have been written about him years after his death.

The firemen paid for Wallace to be embalmed and placed in a glass case together with his two rubber boots. The collar he is wearing was made from old fashioned Glasgow Fire Brigade officer's rank markings. The display can be seen at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Heritage Trust Museum in Greenock.