Lower Burrell firefighters throw birthday party for Dalmatian pups
The birthday party at Lower Burrell Fire Company 1 on Sunday was one Walt Disney would love and only a firefighter would plan.
The gathering had enough spots to make a leopard jealous as 13 1-year-old Dalmatians were brought together to celebrate their shared birthday.
All came from the same litter, born to Ember and sired by Frito Bandito, who are owned by Ron Hereda, a 50-year member at Lower Burrell No. 1 (Kinloch). The 14th member of the litter, named Rose, lives in South Carolina.
Randy Dunmire, a Vandergrift Fire Co. No. 1 firefighter who owns Cinders, said Hereda planned the party and everyone pitched in. Two huge inflatable Dalmatian figures stood outside the door of the fire hall; smaller Dalmatian figures hung from the ceiling, and balloons dotted with paw prints adorned the cake table.
“They each have an individual cake with their name on it and there's a pinãta for them to break open that's filled with dog treats,” Dunmire said.
Firefighter party hats were available for the dogs, but no one even attempted to put them on as the event quickly became a mixture of comedy and chaos. Ember's pups made Disney's “101 Dalmatians” look like amateurs in both departments.
They frolicked in a makeshift pen formed by banquet tables and mesh netting, barking all the while, with Hereda in the midst of his “kids.”
“Ask anybody around, I love my kids,” Hereda said. “They all have different personalities, they all have different colors.”
Dan and Jessica Grossheim of Lower Burrell, who rent their home from Hereda and own Sprinkler, one of the birthday pups, thought the idea of a party was “interesting.”
“He told us a while ago, and I thought he was joking,” Dan Grossheim said. “Then he told us about it last week and we got excited.”
Vandergrift No. 1 firefighters own three more of the litter: Samantha Arner has Ashes and Dave Lynch has Kya and Kyra.
Eureka Fire Rescue has Ramsey Pager, who lives with firefighter Shannon McKruit. Hereda kept Backdraft, Bleve and Bell, who joined the 10 dalmatians he already owns; his niece, Nicole, has Smokey. Rose is with a fire company in South Carolina, according to Hereda.
Four members of the litter have no connection to a fire company: Domino, owned by Kylee Black of Harrison; Fire and Water, owned by Lori Mochnick of Sewickley; and Sprinkler, owned by the Grossheims.
Sprinkler had to be taken from the person who first received him because he was being mistreated, Hereda said. Grossheim said they did not hesitate when Hereda asked them to take Sprinkler in, “especially when we heard he had been abused.”
“He is such a sweetheart,” Grossheim said.
The party's chaos didn't seem to bother the Vandergrift contingent and with good reason. Lynch said their four dogs routinely get together with Hereda's three for “play dates” in Dunmire's back yard.
“Our seven, we never have any issues with,” Lynch said. “It's not nearly as chaotic as this.”
Although he didn't say so directly, Hereda might agree with that.
When asked if there would be another birthday party next year, Hereda paused and seemed to frown before replying, “We'll talk.”
Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.