By CHARITY B. SMITH
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK — Firefighters were awakened early Halloween morning when a local man rang the doorbell at 3 a.m. and presented them with a concrete Dalmatian statue.
Dan Sonder had heard of the missing Sparky the fire dog statue and decided to find the department a new dog. He located one on Craigslist and went to Sterling Heights, after getting off work at midnight, to pick up the statue, which was being given away by Linda Helfmann.
Helfmann said Sonder told her he got off at midnight and would like to pick it up that night. She told him that would be fine and informed the neighbors that on Devil’s Night two men were going to enter her yard and “steal the dog” about 1 a.m.
The firefighters were excited to receive the dog; however, they later noticed a tag on the collar of the statue that read “Warren Fire Department,” and had to further investigate, to be sure that the statue was not previously stolen.
Helfmann said she was very surprised to get a call from Fire Chief Douglas LaFond inquiring of her relationship with the Warren Fire Department. It turns out that although Helfmann currently lives in Sterling Heights she is from Warren and her now deceased husband, Frederick Helfmann, retired from the Warren Fire Department in 2008.
She purchased the dog years ago to guard a fire hydrant her husband had placed in the backyard. The Helfmanns named the dog “Spark” and placed a decorative collar on him that read “Warren Fire Department.”
Linda Helfmann’s father, Fredric Juergens, retired from the St. Clair Shores Fire Department, so she has a long family affiliation with fire protection, and is thrilled that the statue she and her husband had enjoyed together now belongs to the Allen Park fire Department.
“I’m glad they have a new dog,” Linda Helfmann said. “He is a good dog. He has given me no troubles all these years.”
Deputy Fire Chief Ed Cann said the department is going to secure this statue better this time, but, “We won’t be putting him on a chain as we don’t believe in chaining our dogs.”
The new “Spark,” is now bolted down in front of the Allen Park fire station, 6730 Roosevelt, beside the mailbox.