OH LOOK! A DALMATIAN!
by John 'Dewey' Ewing and Wolfgang Dick
Cinderella seems to get two reactions. The first and most common is the 'Oh look! A Dalmatian!' and, from the parents, 'Where are the other 100?' (like it's an original joke). That's the Disney-child reaction.
Occasionally, on the other hand, we get walkers of other breeds whose dogs were once in a scrap with a Dalmatian -- and they think all Dals are vicious and untrustworthy.
Both views have an element of reality. One older book on Dalmatians -- the title of which I have forgotten -- reproduces a painting from the 18th century (I think it was). With horses in stalls around, a stableboy sits on the floor of an English stable with a Dalmatian draping itself across his legs. In an era when they were not thought fit to enter the 'big house', Dalmatians had warm and loving relationships with those humans who'd associate with them.
On the other hand, the main use of Dalmatians in that period might be compared to that of fighter-interceptor aircraft in the Second World War: Like fighter-interceptors with bombers, they ran with the carriages to ward off any marauding dogs (incoming 'bogies') that might stampede the horses (shoot down the bombers). This role was extended to fire engines when they developed and, even after fire horses were replaced by internal combustion, Dalmatians lingered on in the firehall because they made such good pets in addition to their guardian role.
Cinderella never started a fight -- but she never backed down either. I frequently walked her in a back lane and there was this ratherdumb (in the colloguial sense, though certainly not literally) poodle that would charge at her, yapping, yapping, yapping. Normally this Willie was stopped by the fence and Cinderella pretty well ignored him. But one day Willie was somehow in the next-door yard and, there being no fence to stop/save him, found himself right on top of Cindy. She took one snap at Willie -- and he fled, yipping like he'd met the devil incarnate. Momentary distraction gone, Cinderella returned to sniffing lane smells and tasting the grass.
Dalmatians are typically friendly but rambunctious dogs which should NOT be in families with small children to be knocked over.
Moreover, some Dalmatians (such as mine), are not very tolerant of very young children and puppies. Dalmatians are energetic, strong and fearless. They are amazingly clever (especially, I find, in spatial intelligence) but fail to get academic recognition in that department because they lack the the slavish character of, say, a border collie.
With three movies about 'cute, cuddly' Dalmatians now, Disney is fostering popular misconceptions that are harmfull to the breed and, potentially, to humans as well.
But it can not be Disney's fault altogether when mom and dad do not read learn about a breed of dog not just the Dals. Any dog. Then MOM and DAD are at fault for getting a dog they could not handle.