by Tom Forster
We don't know where or when Sparky Cassou was born, nor do we know of his upbringing. We believe he was about 14 years old when he passed on April 27, 2017 in Quincy. We do know he was a very kind and gentle soul, and a faithful companion to Robbie and Julie Cassou, after they rescued and adopted him at a local dog shelter about eight years ago.
He was in middle age at the time, and became a regular friend to many at the Quincy Fire House and Academy. He only occasionally got in the way of the humans, through no fault of his own, as they were often in a non-emergency rush, or walking aimlessly while staring at meaningless dribble on their cell phones.
A Beagle, his was a breed developed primarily for hunting rabbits long ago in Great Britain. Beagles have a great sense of smell, and a very good tracking instinct. They are known for being intelligent and single-minded, and are often deployed as detection dogs for prohibited agricultural imports and foodstuffs around the world. Beagles are popular as pets due to their good temper, size, and having a general lack of inherited health problems.
Like firefighters, dogs are loyal, courageous, and protective by nature. In the 20th century and beyond, fire houses across England and America have often kept dogs as firehouse mascots. The tasks of firehouse dogs have included to serve as companions for firefighters; guard belongings in the firehouse; hunt mice and rats; ride along to fires and stand guard over the truck; help in public safety education programs with kids; and of course to be the fire company mascot.
The most famous Beagle world-wide is "Snoopy" of Charles Shultz's comic strip "Peanuts." Sparky never met Snoopy, but he was known to have dreams of flying in a Sopwith Camel bi-plane, and of dog-fighting the Red Baron. He could occasionally be heard talking in his sleep, saying something in his native dog tongue like "Curse you Red Baron."
Sparky often came with his Dad to work at Quincy FPD, accompanied by his younger sister, Sneakers Cassou. She tolerated him, but in her younger and fitter state could outrun Sparky and jump higher to get treats.
Like his sister, Sparky was known for going on Australian-like "Walk-Abouts" in his home neighborhood in East Quincy, and around the Quincy downtown fire station, especially when the back gate was left open by careless humans.
In old age he suffered numerous health indignities, including losing the ability to control his bladder output. He could pee as they say "like a drunken sailor," and would regularly do so on the new carpet installed at Robbie's home. Sadly, next week would have been the 8th graduation he would have participated in at the Quincy Fire Academy, where his memory will live on.
Rest in peace Sparky...
"The dog is a gentleman, I hope to go to his heaven, not man's." - Mark Twain