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Man Dies in Fire trying to save dog

Posted: 12-31-10Category:

Here's a heartbreaking story from the San Antonio Express News (Sig Christensen reporting) about a 62 year old man who died in a fire while trying to rescue his beloved dog. You might want to keep the kleenex tissues nearby while reading this one--it's sad. Here's the story:

Franklin James "Pancho" Kruse rescued his wife and a niece from his burning home early Christmas Day and went back in one more time. Sugar, an aging Labrador that was his near-constant companion, was trapped in the mobile-home fire.

"I just knew he wouldn't go home without his Sugar dog," said Kruse's wife, Tina. "He had to save her. He couldn't have lived without her."

Kruse - a retired plumber known for taking Sugar with him on jobs, to the convenience store, a local tavern and a deer blind with a carpeted ramp - was last seen going into the house to save his faithful dog.

Neither came out.

Those familiar with the 62-year-old Kruse and Sugar say they had an exceptionally strong bond, and that the dog was more like a person to him than an animal.

His son-in-law, Danny Casey, said Kruse got the dog about 13 years ago and went nowhere without her.

"He went to a certain convenience store strictly because they allowed Sugar in there," said Casey. "He had a special deer blind that he had when he went deer hunting, and it had a ramp."

Friends called the blind the "Sugar Stack." The ramp was carpeted so Sugar, hobbled by arthritis, could more easily make her way into the blind.

Had a way with animals

Family and friends tell stories about Kruse's soft touch with animals. One favorite is about the time a horse was being treated after running through barbed wire.

Kruse petted the animal, whispered into one ear, and the horse calmed down.

"He never told us what he whispered," said Tina Kruse, 57.

That was odd, she said, but the connection between her husband of 38½ years and Sugar was something even more inexplicable.

Riding in Kruse's 1984 Chevy pickup, Sugar would bark as they passed a taco stand.

"She would bark and so he would get her a barbacoa taco," Tina Kruse said.

When Kruse worked, Sugar would stand watch at the truck. Hours would pass and, occasionally, someone would offer the dog some bacon or a piece of hamburger.

Sugar refused to eat.

"The way she looked at you, you wouldn't dare go near (the truck)," Tina Kruse said. "She was working: 'I'm business right now.' "

Kruse and Sugar were cremated. Their ashes were mixed and will be spread at his deer lease, between Brackettville and Del Rio.

"They're together, and that's where they need to be," Tina Kruse said.




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