Boise’s Fire Station No. 1 in the year 1910 was about as complete a fire-fighting organization as one could hope to see. It was housed in a red brick building with a tower for drying the canvas hoses; the building is still standing at Sixth and Idaho. It had a steam-powered pumper wagon with a team of horses. The firemen had an upstairs dormitory and a genuine brass fire pole to slide down whenever a fire call came in. About the only thing lacking, though perhaps the firemen did not realize it, was a Dalmatian dog to run ahead of the fire engine.
That deficiency was filled one intensely cold winter night when Assistant Chief Lindsay was awakened by the whining of a dog at the side door of the station. Lindsay forced himself from his warm bed to investigate. On the doorstep was a half-starved filthy mutt begging for admittance. He was no Dalmatian, though he might have had some Airedale in his lineage, and he looked shabby indeed. The Assistant Chief probably realized that the fire station represented the miserable creature’s last hope. So entry was granted, and Lindsay gave the visitor a quick cleaning before donning his winter coat and walking to an all-night restaurant. He returned with a big bag of meat trimmings which the dog devoured. With that, a deal was struck: Fire Station No. 1 had gained its first fire house dog.
Though a bed was made for the dog in the dormitory, he immediately found a place he liked better—sleeping in the manger of “Old Joe,” the senior member of the fire wagon-pulling team. The dog liked the firemen, but he loved Old Joe. One day Joe stuck his head out his stall window and nuzzled a visitor to the fire house, as was his habit when he was hoping to beg a lump of sugar. The startled man hit Joe on the side of his head. Joe’s whinny of alarm brought the dog into action. The Airedale launched himself upon the man and knocked him down. He also was so protective of the fire house that no other dog could come near it. The firemen named him “Bruiser.”
Bruiser became Old Joe’s inseparable companion. When Joe was taken out for exercise, Bruiser raced round and round the plodding horse, occasionally nipping playfully at the horse’s heels. Joe seemed to take an interest in Bruiser as well, and perhaps held his head a bit higher as he walked with his canine escort.
Every story of friendship and devotion has its period of separation, and the horse-dog duo encountered theirs thanks to a plot by the crew at Boise Fire Station No. 3. Firemen tend to think their crew mates are the best fire fighters ever and that their own station is a world champ. The gents at Station 3 kidded Station 1 quite a bit over Bruiser, but secretly they believed their station deserved a dog, too. The dog they wanted was Bruiser.
Rascals from Station 3 made a raid and escaped undetected with a very unwilling Bruiser in tow. The consequences were worse than would be expected from a simple prank. The firemen at Station 1 almost instantly guessed who had taken Bruiser and were seeing red. At Station 3, Bruiser was as outraged as a dog could be. He snarled at the men, ignored the food they offered him, and would have nothing to do with the horses at the alien fire station. At Station 1, Old Joe hung his head and wouldn’t eat. Night after night the firemen’s sleep was disturbed by Joe’s whinnying as he called for his missing friend.
The prank having backfired, firemen at Station 3 gave up on making Bruiser part of their squad. The men sheepishly asked Station 1: If Bruiser was returned right away, would the men at Station 1 promise not to retaliate? . The crew at Station 1 readily agreed, and the illicitly-acquired mascot was returned to his home station. At Fire Station No. 1, a happy reunion was enjoyed by both man and beast.

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