Diesel the Firedog makes a large impression in the Village of Florida

| 15 Feb 2012 | 10:20

The Great Dane who looks like a Dalmatian is the cat’s meow Florida — Have you seen a spotted black and white dog surrounded by children around town lately? If so, you were probably looking at Diesel the Firedog. If you live in the Village of Florida, you probably are already acquainted with Diesel because he’s among the most prominent figures in our community. He draws a crowd. This energetic dog got his start in Texas, but he made the move north three years ago, at the young age of eight weeks. That’s when Kristen Waehler, a local emergency medical technician and volunteer firefighter, bought him from a breeder in Texas with the intention of making him a therapy dog. Diesel immediately fit in with all the volunteers at the Florida Fire Department, who made him their firedog. He was even issued his own firehouse ID badge. True, Diesel is not your traditional firedog. He’s a Great Dane. However, you’ve never seen a Great Dane who looks so much like a Dalmatian, black spots and all. He just looks like a really BIG Dalmatian. Training began early At a very early age, Diesel set to work educating kids about Fire Prevention Week at Golden Hill Elementary School and the Florida Public Library. He also began visiting elderly residents at nursing homes and attending special events at the firehouse, such as the Halloween parties. You might wonder how it’s possible to take a dog into schools and nursing homes with complete confidence. It all starts with having an owner who loves animals and is committed to proper training. Kristen was certain from the day Diesel became her responsibility that he was going to become a big dog - and, as such, he’d also need to be a polite and obedient dog. He wouldn’t be a welcome part of the community otherwise. She said the trick to training was to start right away. Kristen also made sure he was out and about in town to get him used to being around people and young children. Friend him on Facebook Diesel also needs to burn off a lot of energy. Kristen makes sure he stays active and gets his exercise by taking him to the Bark Park at Thomas Bull Memorial Park in Montgomery, so he can meet other dogs, run around and play. Diesel’s greatest fun, though, is going to work with Kristen. Just ask him. If you say, “Do you want to go to work, Diesel?” you’ll see him get ecstatic and race around in circles at the very thought of it. “He’s the best dog I’ve ever had,” said Kristen. He’s affectionate, never second-guesses his owner and always does what’s asked of him. He even allows Kristen to dress him up in clothes and a hat. “That’s how much of a good boy he is.” It’s obvious that everyone in town thinks so, too. Everyone at the firehouse enjoys Diesel’s company as well. “I think Diesel can communicate with children better than I can,” said Tom Andryshak, a member of the Florida Fire Department. “He really has a way with kids.” If you’d like to know more about Diesel, you can find him on - you guessed it - Facebook, where he has his own page called “Diesel the Firedog.” I think Diesel can communicate with children better than I can. He really has a way with kids.” Tom Andryshak, a member of the Florida Fire Department.