Memorial to Bush the Fire Dog

Not all memorials in D.C. are large or prominant, and it would really easy to pass by this small one.  On a recent ride in D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood, I stopped by to see the memorial to a dog named Bush, which consists of a stone plaque located on the side of the building at 1066 Wisconsin Avenue (MAP), just north of The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and Towpath, and the Canal Monument. The historic building originally housed The Vigilant Fire Company.  It was built in 1844, making it the oldest extant firehouse in D.C., and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.  The building currently houses the Frye Boot Company.

Bush was of mixed breed, and dark brown in color. He ran with the engine to all fires and parades and was a general favorite with all who met him. His stone memorial marker is embedded on the side of the building. It is just above ground level between the two main doorways, and reads “Bush, the Old Fire Dog, Died of Poison, July 5th 1869, R.I.P.”

Bush suddenly took ill, and after several severe spasms he died on July 4, 1869, under suspicious circumstances.  The doctors pronounced it a case of arsenical poisoning.  It is suspected that he was probably poisoned by a rival fire company back during a time of cutthroat competition between the city’s private firefighting companies. The site of Bush’s grave is actually under the local firehouse, minus his tail, which for years was reverently kept by his bereaved owners in a glass case at the firehouse.

BushDog02        BushDog03

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