Mention a mascot dog for a fire department, and you’ll instantly conjure up an image of a Dalmation. Black. White. Spots.
Not so here in Flagler Beach!
The firefighters at the Flagler Beach Fire Department have happily broken with tradition and opened their hearts – and the run of the fire station – to Gibbs, a happy-go-lucky hound mix who’s mostly white, with a few beautiful brown freckles sprinkled on his ears and shoulders.
I remember photographing Gibbs the very first day I volunteered at the Flagler Humane Society. He was standing behind the wire doors of his cage with his kennel-mate (another hound mix), and I took the photo because they looked so poignant standing there together with those big eyes looking up at me. When I got home and enlarged the photo on my computer screen, I knew I’d never use the shot. It was just too sad.
Gibbs was picked up as a stray over a year ago, and his sweet temperament got him adopted out twice during that year. But back to the shelter he came each time – with claims he had not fit in with the owners’ other animals.
Gibbs was taken to almost every event the Humane Society held – over 60 hours of events in all, says Howard Tessler, volunteer outreach coordinator for the Society. At an estimated seven years old, he’d lost his puppy cuteness, but he was such a mellow dog the Humane Society refused to give up on him. While at a PetSmart adoption event, Cherry Murr met Gibbs, and although she could not adopt him herself, she was so impressed with his sweet face and manner she offered to pay the fees for whomever stepped up to adopt him.
The Humane Society brings dogs each week to the local Farmers Market at Flagler Beach, and Gibbs was there many times over the last months. Just a few weeks ago, Alan Forehand, a firefighter for Flagler County who saw Gibbs once again at the Farmers Market, mentioned him to Fire Chief Bobby Pace. The Fire Department had wanted a mascot for a long time, and after Chief Pace and Flagler Beach Mayor Linda Provencher checked on liability and care issues, approval was granted for the adoption.
Gibbs’ happy arrival at his forever home was reported in The Flagler-Palm Coast News-Tribune recently, but I wanted to check out “the rest of the story”. I called the Fire Department, and they said, “Come on down!”
Although Gibbs’ adoption was rather unconventional, it just goes to show there’s more than one way to bring happiness into the life of an abandoned dog or cat.
For Gibbs . . . the best is yet to come!