Freckles the Firehouse Dog, ‘mayor of West Loop,’ dies after nearly 17 years at Engine 103
Freckles was the inspiration for “Pouch,” the firehouse dog in NBC’s “Chicago Fire,” said Alfred Cousineau, an Engine 103 firefighter.
Freckles the Firehouse Dog, the beloved neighborhood pet often called the honorary “mayor of West Loop,” died Wednesday after nearly 17 years at Chicago Fire Department Engine 103’s firehouse.
Freckles was well known among the neighborhood, popular on Facebook — where his page has amassed more than 1,225 likes — and said to have been the inspiration for the dog on NBC’s “Chicago Fire.”
A Dalmatian-pit bull mix, Freckles could often be seen on walks around the West Loop or perched on a yoga mat outside the firehouse, where he greeted neighbors. Business owners were happy to let him in for a visit, and strangers who recognized him from social media would stop to pet him, said Michelle Langlois, one of the handful of neighbors who helped care for Freckles.
He was a smart, intuitive dog who kept watch over the firehouse and loved people, said Langlois, who had cared for Freckles since he was about 4 months old. The two grew so close he was even the “best being” in her wedding, sporting a bow tie and posing for photos next to the bride and groom.
“He was just very inviting, very welcoming, very much part of the neighborhood where he just drew people to him,” Langlois said. “He loved people, and people loved him.”
Freckles first arrived at Engine 103, 25 S. Laflin St., as a puppy in August 2004 after being donated by another neighbor. A vote among the firehouse shifts confirmed he was there to stay.
As more people moved to West Loop and the neighborhood grew, so did Freckles.
In 2012, one fireman created a Facebook page for the dog, where thousands have interacted with posts written from Freckles’ perspective.
Karen Pollack, a neighbor who had taken care of the dog for more than 10 years, said Freckles loved to interact with all of the new neighbors who moved nearby.
It wasn’t long before Freckles’ social media presence and appearance around the West Loop turned him into a local celebrity.
Pollack said one city tour guide would often make the firehouse a stop and have Freckles come on to greet the passengers. School groups took field trips there. You could also see Freckles at street festivals sitting at his own table where branded T-shirts were sold.
Freckles was even the inspiration for Pouch, the firehouse dog in NBC’s “Chicago Fire,” said Alfred Cousineau, an Engine 103 firefighter, in a Facebook post Wednesday.
“Anybody would just say, ‘He’s the mayor of West Loop, the ambassador, the legend,’ ” Pollack said.
Freckles ruled over Engine 103, where he embraced the noise and inconsistent schedules that come with life inside a firehouse and held down the fort when firemen went out to a call.
So it was only fitting that he dressed up as a king one Halloween, Pollack said: “He loved getting dressed up.”
Since the announcement of his death on Facebook, tributes have been pouring in.
“Walking past the firehouse will never be the same,” one person wrote.
“A big piece of the West Loop is gone,” wrote another.
“KING of the neighborhood,” another Freckles fan said.
Langlois said people feel West Loop has lost some of its character with the death of Freckles.
“Freckles was such an integral part of what the West Loop was about,” she said.