Bil Browning

That's Amore: Goodbye Fritz

Filed By Bil Browning | July 27, 2010 8:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: death of a pet, Fritz, grief, pet death

I miss you, my fat little friend. You stuck with me for almost 20 years - through thick and thin as only a best friend can. I'll bring a balloon for us to play with when I come to meet you where you're waiting, okay?


Did God have a pizza waiting for you in doggie heaven? I've told everyone "Fritz stories" for so long, but my favorite is the pizza story I published when your health first started to deteriorate a couple years ago.

I'm glad you got to have something to eat one more time before you left us, little buddy.

I love you and I miss you so much already.

Fritz Meets Pizza: A Love Affair Is Born

Fritz was a stray dog. I found him when I was a pizza delivery driver for Papa John's in Bloomington. I was out on a run and thought I'd hit him with the car. He darted out in front of me, and, while I was pretty sure I'd missed him, he was laying beside the road whimpering and crying.

I got out of the car and checked him out. He was perfectly fine and started running around my feet - thrilled to be getting attention. After he moved in, I found out that Fritz is a big wuss; he cries and yipes any time he gets scared. A guard dog he is not.

I walked around the neighborhood, banging on doors and asking everyone if they were missing a dog. He was obviously pure bred and I knew someone would be looking for him. No one claimed him. They said he'd been wandering around the apartment complex for a few days.

bfritz.jpgI couldn't just leave the little guy there. He's tiny and, well, not a dog meant for the outdoor life. I picked him up and put him in the car with me. I figured I'd go deliver my last pie of the run and then swing by home and drop him off. He could stay until we found his owner or we took him to the pound. Since he's pure bred, I knew he'd be adopted quickly.

As I pulled up to the address to deliver the pizza, I heard snuffling and snorting from the back seat. I stopped the car outside the house and looked back to see what was going on. Fritz had nosed open the pizza box and was standing in the middle of the pizza wolfing it down like there was no tomorrow. He'd eaten almost 1/3 of the 14" pie in the few minutes it'd taken me to drive to the house.

I ran up to the door, explained what had happened and called the store to have them make a fresh pizza for the customer. Since it was a rush delivery, I just took Fritz back to Papa John's with me. I'd pick up the new pie and my roommate (who also worked there) would take Fritz to our apartment.

When we got there, everyone wanted to see the little bugger. Don't tell the health department, but he ran into the store and stayed the rest of the night with the crew. They fed him pepperonis and sausage bits all night. By the time he made it home with me, he was full and as happy as he could possibly be.

Little did I know that would be the start of a lifelong pizza fetish.

Begging For A Fix

Obviously, Fritz stayed with us instead of going to the pound when no one claimed him. Since he stuck around, we learned a few of his quirks.

Fritz is obsessive over food. When he's begging for people food he'll shake like a junkie craving their next fix. Honestly, it's kind of gross. Every fiber of his being screams "I want that!" and he's barely able to contain himself. But pizza? That's a whole different level of canine crazy. Even though he's been fixed, he'll get a hardon if he smells pizza.

For our third or fourth date, Jerame and I decided to hang out at my place, order pizza and watch a movie. I warned him about Fritz's junkie shakes. I did.


"It's absolutely disgusting," I told him. "You'll see."

We sat in the floor of my bedroom to eat and chat. (I had roommates!) Fritz snuck through the door, hot on the scent of cheese and pepperoni. First he sat by the door looking pitiful and starved. When that didn't work (since he's always been overweight and hardly nutrition deprived!), he started slithering across the floor to be closer to the box.

If you looked up, he'd stop and look around innocently as if to say, "Who me? I just happened to be passing by and thought you guys might like a little company." As soon as you looked away, he was back to creeping across the floor like a fighter from war movies.

Bit by bit he sneaked closer until he was only about a foot from the pizza box. That delicious tomato smell hit his pizza detector and he started shaking and twitching. Jerame noticed it and said, "Oh my God, Bil. I think something is wrong with your dog."

"Fritz has Pizza Eating Disorder," I reminded him.

Jerame started laughing and we talked about if for a few minutes. The entire time Fritz was vibrating and starting a high-pitched whine. "You know, that's kind of gross," Jerame says. "Can we get him to stop?"

I don't eat the crust of pizzas. It's just a thing for me. I picked up one of my crusts and thwacked Fritz on the head with it. (Hey - it was soft and I didn't want to hurt him!) "Go on! Get out of here!" I hollered.

Fritz ignored me.

I hit him again with the crust. "Get!"

Fritz started to drool. Not only was he not leaving until he got some goodness, he was starting to get off on it. Out popped his little candle and Jerame started cackling and pointing. I threw the crust into the hallway and as he ran after it whimpering like Gollum and his Precious, I closed the bedroom door.

Welcome to life with Fritz and Bil, Jerame.

When The Moon Hits Your Eye Like A Big Pizza Pie

As we draw closer to Fritz's end of life, I find myself trying to make him as happy as possible. Even though he's a big tub of lard that's had to eat diet dog food for years, I give him table scraps and extra dog biscuits. He can't go on car rides anymore since he can't hop in the car or steady himself on the seat. (He wants to look out the window, but that big tumor on his back leg prevents him from standing on his hind feet and balancing himself while we drive along.) I make sure to bring him a french fry every time I go to the drive-thru.

bilsmoke2.jpgIt reminds me of something my stepdad used to say, "When I die I want to go out fat and happy." I think Fritz would want the same thing.

When we make Fritz's vet appointment next week, they'll be running blood work and X-raying the tumor to see how far it's spread. They've already warned us that the prognosis more than likely won't be good. The vet assistant wants to give us an appointment later in the day around closing time to be sure we won't have to sit around in the waiting room dreading the outcome. They want to be able to put him down after his test results come back, if necessary.

"A quick in and out," the assistant told me. "No one wants to prolong the process."

I told Jerame that I had a problem with that idea. If it's Fritz's time to move on, before he slips away into that good night, we're going to go on one final car trip. We're going to Papa John's for a small pepperoni pizza. All for Fritz.

That's amoré.

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Fritz is hanging out with my Chula, comparing the joys of a gay man or lesbian family.

I am so sorry, my friend. I still cry for my lost four legged child.

Bil and Jerame: I'm so sorry to hear about Fritz. I know how much you love him. My thoughts and prayers are with you, and Fritz, tonight.

Aww. He's precious. I'm so sorry he's nearing the end.

The loss of a beloved amimal is difficult! We still morn for the loss of our dog. Now, We have a full grown Cat and two Kittens. We love them and they adore us! The two kittens sleep next to us! Sorry to hear of your loss! Love, Regina & Sally

I'm sorry for your loss. It's always hard to lose pets you're close to.

I'm so sorry for you guys. Knowing it was coming doesn't make it any easier.

Gene Eldridge | July 27, 2010 11:34 PM

I'm so sorry to hear about your puppy guys. My Daisy is 11 and still doing ok, but has battled mange all her life and now I'm wondering what all that medicine will end up doing to her.

Sorry for your loss.....gene

I'm so very sorry. The story is touching. You were a good loyal friend to Fritz for many years, and he loved you for it. That's the great thing about pets. They love without condition. A pizza and some junk food...he was happy.

Here's to Fritz.

Oh Bil, you have my sympathy. I know what's it's like to lose a beloved pet dog too. I was 12 years ago, but I still miss him. They spend all to short a time in our lives, but their memories live on with us.

Fritz was a lucky dog.

I have two beautiful puppies Chili and Pepper (brother and sister) - they're 3 years old. They travel everywhere with me. They love Pizza, too.

I see a puppy in your future. Slobbering.

My condolences. I am deeply attached to my two cats, as well as the animals I have had in the past who are no longer with me. I got all choked up just reading your post.

Google seems to be serving up Papa John ads on the site right now. Rather than think of it as the work of their clever, revenue-seeking keyword detectors, I'll think of it as homage to Fritz.

I miss the way he would chew on a knotted rope for dear life, even if you picked him up in the air, swinging. As for him being far from a guard dog, I've seen him stand next to your chair at attention. You know, just in case. He was dearly loved, and you have memorialized him beautifully.

I gauge every potential boyfriend by two things: how he treats waiters at a restaurant and how he treats pets. I will quite happily put my cats before any relationship if the guy doesnt get it right with them. And I'm honooured to know someone who would give his dog that wonderful final request. You're doin' it right, as they would say.

crying at work on a wednesday morning... sorry for your loss bil and jerame.

This brought tears to my eyes. We just lost our little furry boy last month. I'm so sorry.

Bil, sorry about Fritz. Your story makes me think of Zeb my Chessie. His favorites were carrots and dried apricots.

Bill, my friend, I'm sorry to read that Fritz is gone. You gave him a wonderful life and he gave you a lot of joy. Take care and next time you order pizza set a little aside for him.

I'm so sorry Bil and Jerame! You guys have been the greatest to that little pup and he had the fattest run of his life!

I got to see poor little Fritz on his last day. I had no idea that would be the last time I'd see him. Had I known, I would have brought a little bit of food back to sneak him. Fritz was always chill when I knew him--he would come sit by my feet while Reecie and Lucky would pounce all over me, not knowing they're not little 5 lb puppies. Fritz always seemed to be looking at them and snickering under his breath, as if to say "you big dumb idiots, calm down!"

I never got to know fat Fritz--he was always sort of frail as long as I knew him. However, I do want to note that just before I left the house yesterday, Jerame, and Bil were in the kitchen looking for a to-go coffee cup, and all of the animals including Fritz joined them in there, and it was like a little menagerie for a few moments. I noted aloud "Everyone's in here, including all the humans, dogs and cats! Its cuteness overload!" I'd like to think Fritz looked at me and chuckled and said under his breath "You big dumb idiot."

Poor Fritz. He will be missed.

GraciesDaddy GraciesDaddy | July 28, 2010 10:47 AM

Stories like this, Bil, make me miss my dear Gracie all the more... She loved Pizza Bones, too!!

Gracie was a rescue as well; a "free to a good home" ad in the newspaper. Her first trip to the vet, he estimated her age to be "about 5" in 2001 so she would be about 14 now. I was forced to surrender her to the local SPCA in early '08 cuz I'd lost my job and home. This was after we divorced her "other daddy" and rode out the hurricanes of '04 in our little efficiency apartment... huddled on the bed... vibrating.

She wasn't "just" a dog... she was m'gurl.

That's all our critters want from us... to belong.

I started reading this with tears in my eyes for your loss, and ended with tears of another sort.

Thank you for sharing Fritz and his antics with us. I cannot begin to imagine losing any one of our five precious dogs, and I don't know what we will do when this finally happens.

Awww...such a sweet, sweet story! Thanks so much for sharing.

Good bye with Annie while you were the best little guy ever!! I will never forget how much you loved your walks...! I love you...

I'm sorry, Bil. That sucks.

I am glad I got to meet Fritz before he passed. My condolences. I'm also thankful this Thanksgiving for the fact that I know you and Jeremy.