Wilshire the Fire Dog’s boundless energy, smiling face, friendly, loving nature and tireless commitment to his family, the community and people around him captured the hearts of everyone who met him. To know Wilshire is to love Wilshire. He touched thousands of lives in his many years of service. Anyone who has loved a dog knows they are a gift and Wilshire was quite an exceptional and special one. With his whimsical ears and happy-go-lucky nature, Wilshire was a canine with charisma. Children lit up the second they saw him and adults, from grads to grandmas, commented he radiated like sunshine.
Fire Safety Ambassador
Rescued as a pup from a trip to the shelter by the kind firefighters of LAFD fire station 29 and adopted by Captain Ryan Penrod, Wilshire dedicated his life to serving others. Full of spunk and incredibly smart, the handsome Dalmatian spent close to 17 years teaching children and adults life and fire safety. He traveled throughout Southern California, as well as across the nation, taking the stage at schools, churches, expos, community events, LAFD functions, and even the L.A. Mayor’s Getty House, to give crowd-pleasing lessons and demonstrations. Under the incredible leadership and guidance of Captain Penrod, this amazing spotted dog showed people how to “Stop, Drop & Roll,” “Bark (call) 9-1-1,” “Get Low & Go,” head toward instead of hiding from a rescuer (as some young children do during a frightening fire) and so much more. Fun props and elaborate sets, all courtesy of the creativity and devotion of Ryan, his wife Nicole and their two boys, made Wilshire’s appearances unforgettable. Teachers and community leaders say the important emergency preparedness and fire safety lessons made a strong and lasting impression on the children and are sure to save lives because Wilshire and Ryan made it so joyful and memorable. Ryan and Wilshire invested countless hours of donated time, training and preparing together for every appearance. Energetic and strong, he had a blast learning new tricks and running on the treadmill alongside the firefighters. Healthy lifestyle tips and the core values of trust, courage and honesty also were part of Wilshire’s educational messages.
Our Canine Community Hero
Alongside Ryan, Wilshire also devoted countless hours to charity, attending numerous annual fundraisers for the Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firefighter’s Fund; donating his time to raise awareness for St. Baldrick’s, the charity dedicated to children’s cancer research; appearing in a calendar to raise donations and put a spotlight on the plight of homeless pets for the Best Friends Animal Society and L.A. Animal Shelters; being featured in the campaign for the annual “Spark of Love” holiday toy drive; appearing at the LAFD Historical Society, and helping so many other charities and causes, it is impossible to list them all. When the need arose, Ryan and Wilshire always filled it, lending his paws for the cause whenever and wherever they were needed. With such a strong desire to help others, “no” just was not in the Penrod vocabulary. Wilshire always wore his badge with pride. His photo booth at the annual Hope for Firefighters event has always been one of the most popular attractions. Many of the event’s most dedicated supporters said getting their picture taken with Wilshire year after year was the cherished highlight of the day, and even the reason they attended.
Wilshire: A Life of Love and Service
Wilshire also dazzled the media, appearing on several TV shows throughout his life, from his early training days with Cesar Millan in an episode of “The Dog Whisperer,” and its 100th Anniversary Special, to his spot as a finalist for NBC’s “Top Fire House Dog.” He also received several invitations to appear in major stage productions, including the timeless classic “Annie,” at the Kodak Theatre, and “Peter Pan & Tinker Bell” at the Pasadena Playhouse among others. Wilshire even led the pack at the massive “Move Your Tail Challenge” 5K event at the Rose Bowl, wowed the crowds in numerous parades and was a huge draw at the Los Angeles Kings Heroes Salute to Firefighters hockey game. While being a popular pup in high demand took a lot of work and training, Wilshire thrived in the spotlight, enjoying the training, and approaching it all with a playful attitude and enthusiastic spirit. Wilshire lavished Ryan with frequent kisses, clearly loved being by his side and barked with joy whenever he saw Ryan, his family or the longtime friends and people in his pack. One of Wilshire’s best jobs was being a constant loving and loyal companion to Ryan, his wife Nicole and their two young boys, who have spent their entire lives growing up side by side with their four-legged brother. A pup with tons of personality, Wilshire made them laugh whenever he tried to sneak off with a sandwich meant for the kids, shared his zest for life when he ran and frolicked outside or played a rambunctious game of tug-o-war with the boys, provided warmth and comfort with many treasured snuggles and gave them security as he kept a protective and watchful eye on his loving family. Wilshire was an important and cherished member of the Penrod family, our LAFD and firefighter family, and the community as a whole. As he crossed the “Rainbow Bridge” on January 2, 2021, it is impossible to hold back the tears as this is typed. Our deepest condolences go out to the Penrod’s and all who loved and knew the wonderful Wilshire. We are honored by Wilshire’s service and forever impacted by the kindness and generosity he gave so easily. We thank him and the Penrod’s with deep appreciation for all of it. Wilshire, our community canine hero, is in our hearts and memories always.
Watch a video about Wilshire and see him in action.
See our Wilshire the Fire Dog photo album.
Share your photo memories of Wilshire.
By Marlene Casillas