Firefighters in the Chilean city of Iquique put their safety on the line each day for the community — but it’s their loving gesture to a four-legged member of their company, who passed away this week, that’s garnering headlines across the country.
For more than a decade, this sweet dog named Negro lived alongside first responders from the Iquique Fire Department. In his role as station dog, he kept watch over things as firefighters were dispatched on calls, and was there to greet them with a wagging tail upon their return.
The dog’s happy presence no doubt helped ease the stress of those around him as they went about their often dangerous work, and made the long stretches of quiet more enjoyable in between.
Sadly, Negro’s years of service have come to an end.
On Tuesday, it was announced that the loyal dog, after a period of declining health, had died at age 14.
“This afternoon, one from our ranks left the earth — our four-legged firefighter,” the fire department wrote online. “Thank you very much for all the years you’ve been with us. We’ll remember you forever.”
But Negro’s colleagues went on to pay tribute to him with more than only words. The department’s board of directors decided to go one step further, bestowing upon the dog the rank of “honorary firefighter,” and granting him the final respects that come with it.
In a ceremony for the beloved dog, the fire department held an honor guard funeral to bid their heartfelt farewell.
“Negro was one of us, one of this family. He was respected, loved,” Fire Captain Jorge Tapia told Soyiquique.cl. “We said goodbye in a very emotional ceremony because we were saying goodbye to one of our own, who was an important part of this company.”
And, as the dog’s casket was carried out, flanked by his colleagues, his importance to them showed.
Negro’s body was laid to rest that evening in a plot not far from where he’d served so dutifully. A tree was also planted nearby, in his loving memory.
While this fire station dog clearly touched the hearts of all who knew him personally over their many years together, Negro’s legacy will carry well beyond through the gesture of respect and love shown to him this week — a fitting tribute to a wonderful pup:
“In memory of our Negro. Faithful pet, friend and protector.”