He was larger than life to me---a joy to be around. And, although I was only 7 years old, I had come to know him as a joyful and loyal companion. When one is as young as I was back then, one tends to take things for granted. Looking back, I see that, as life extends toward old age, we learn not to take things for granted because they just might not be there for us tomorrow. But I didn't really know that back then.
My dad named him "Fritz". We got him when he was just a puppy. You could say that I was just a puppy, too. We grew together in the two years of his life. Dad finally added a middle and last name to his first name, so that he was formally known as "Fritz Von Nosille". I thought this was exceedingly clever, as "Nosille" is actually our family name spelled backward.
One day I was playing with my friends in the front of our Houston, Texas house. I don't know exactly how it happened, but Fritz escaped from his back yard home, which was fenced. He ran down the street, with me and the other neighborhood kids in pursuit.
I can see it today as clearly as the day it happened so long ago. My precious dog, that I took for granted, didn't know any better as he ran onto the busy Southwest Freeway. We all watched as he was crushed by speeding traffic.
I went into shock. Somehow, my mom got the dog to the vet. There was nothing that could be done. It happened right before Christmas, 1952. And it lives with me still.