By: James Pruitt
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
He’s barely out of his fuzzball phase, but a 15-week-old puppy is warming the hearts of the Wauseon Fire Department.
Blaze, a Goldendoodle, is the newest member of the fire station and he has taken the crew’s heart. He is one part mascot and one part educational tool for the department.
The puppy has the run of the station and spends the night sleeping with various fighters or in a kennel during night if the pager goes off.
During the day he greets visitors and does some tricks.
Blaze’s main caregiver is Asst. Fire Chief Jeremy Shirkey, a 15-year veteran firefighter. The seven regular firefighters decided to get a dog after the department became a full-time operation within the last year, Shirkey said
The chief said he didn’t care what kind of dog it was as long as it didn’t shed (on the firefighters uniforms) and was hypo-allergenic (so it can be around kids), Shirkey said.
Blaze came from Riegseckers Kennel which donated him to the department.
The crew has trained Blaze to do stop, drop and roll and finding a heated door. This will become part of his job next fall when he visits schools promoting fire safety, Shirkey said. For now, preschoolers come to see Blaze, he said.
“The kids love him,” Shirkey said. “A lot of our visitors come to see him.”
In a twist of irony, even though Shirkey takes care of Blaze, including taking him to the vent, he does not have a lot of experience with animals. The father of three doesn’t even own a dog at home.
“Blaze is my first pet,” Shrikey said.
James Pruitt may be reached at