July 20, 1969. The date forever known as when Neil Armstrong first step foot on the moon. That same day, a litter of puppies were born. Around six weeks later we adopted one of the female puppies and named her Eva. The world was still in “moon fever” and we were no exception. Eva was named after the act of walking on the moon, Extra Vehicular Activity, or EVA. A friend of ours that lived a few blocks away adopted one of the male puppies and named him Eagle, after the name of the Apollo 11 lunar lander. I was 10 years old, soon to be 11. My older brother Johnny was 13 years old, and my younger brother Donny was 8 years old.

Eva thought she hit the jackpot being adopted into a family of young boys who were adventurous. There were lots of woods around our house and a bayou at the end of the street. Eva was a hound dog mix and loved lazy summer afternoons following one of us around. One day Eva tagged along with her brother Eagle while Johnny and one of his friends went bird hunting with their pellet guns in the nearby woods. Later that day Johnny came into the house and asked Mom how to cook a bird. Apparently, they bagged a blue jay and were planning to make a meal of it. I don’t recall whether they went through with cooking the bird, but we loved talking about it later. Donny was always up to some mischief too and Eva loved to tag along. I was building my treehouse at the time so Eva would tag along as I pulled our wagon around the neighborhood collecting boards of all shapes and sizes for building material. Many times, Eva would ride in the wagon making it more difficult to pull, she grew to be a big heavy dog.

A year later Johnny was challenged to learn 100 songs on the organ and my parents would buy him a go-kart. It was amazing at how fast he learned all those songs. He used what he learned in being a part of a band as the keyboard player a few years after that. The go-kart was a big hit with us brothers as well as the neighborhood kids. Around the same time a few friends got minibikes. One day I got Eva to sit in the go kart seat while I drove by sitting on the back of the seat. I could barely reach the pedals, but Eva really liked riding fast down our street. One of the neighbor dogs would chase us and Eva just looked at the dog as we outran them. Eva also like riding in our john boat as we motored down the bayou. She would sit in the front seat looking over the bow.

Around the same time we got Eva, our family bought a log cabin on a lake in East Texas. We had a cat named Frisky who knew when we were packing up to go to the cabin. Frisky would sit on the back of the front seat in the station wagon as we loaded up so he would not get left behind. We had the john boat on a trailer with the go kart and bicycles in the boat. When we were ready to pull out of the driveway, Eva would jump in and make her way to the back of the station wagon. She would ride with me in the back. After the three hour ride we would be at the cabin. Eva piled out as fast as my brothers and I would. Frisky would go explore the woods nearby while Eva would follow one of us around. When we put the boat in the water, she would wait in the boat while we set the outboard motor up.

Eva had such a kind spirit. When we gave her something to eat that she did not like, she acted excited but would not eat it. I recall giving her a biscuit and she was excited to get it. She would wait until no one was looking and slowly make her way away from us and bury the biscuit. She did not want to hurt our feelings that she did not like biscuits.

A couple of years later, my Papaw Thoma passed away. We inherited his beloved Chocolate Chihuahua named Little Bit. That poor little dog sure had a culture shock from being a pampered inside dog to living outside with Eva and dealing with us boys. We started getting interested in cars around that time and we learned the difference between small block and big block engines. Eva became known as Rat Block and Little Bit known as Mouse Motor. The things those dogs had to put up with….

One time at the cabin while my brothers and Dad were out fishing. I hated fishing, I had rather be driving the go kart or shooting the shot gun somewhere. I decided to take my 12-gauge side by side double barrel to a lake nearby to explore. I got a box a shells, my shotgun and started up the go kart. Eva saw me getting ready to leave so she ran over and sat in the go kart seat. Not wanting to be left out, Little Bit jumped into the go kart too. The three of us took off on a short drive to another lake nearby where few people went for fishing. I drove the go kart as close to the lake as I could before I had to park it. I put a handful of shotgun shells in my pockets and started walking towards the lake. Both loyal dogs stayed at my heels. We walked around for a while then found a nice spot so sit in the grass looking over the lake. Eva laid down to the left of me and Little Bit found a spot to lay down to my right. I sat there with the shotgun across my lap just enjoying the warm afternoon.

Before I knew it a large bird glided over me by a few feet and out of reaction I shot one barrel, then the other barrel at the bird. I missed; I really did not try to hit it. I had no reason to kill it since I was not out looking for food. I grinned because I loved shooting the shotgun. I looked down and both dogs were gone. I could tell by the bent grass that Little Bit went one way and Eva went the other way. I called out to them, but they were nowhere around. I followed the bent grass where Little Bit went because I knew he would be really scared and difficult to find. I looked for what seemed to be a long time before I decided to make my way back to the go-kart. I kept whistling and calling out the dogs’ names, but they were no where to be found. When I arrived at the go kart, Eva was sitting in it. I guess she was ready to go back to the cabin.

I started the go-kart and slowly made my way back to the road all the while calling out for Little Bit. When Eva and I arrived back at the cabin, I told everyone that we need to go back to look for Little Bit. We loaded up the station wagon. When we got to where I parked the go kart, Little Bit was sitting there waiting for us. I was so relived to find him. I promised him that I would not shoot a gun near him again. I made the same promise to Eva.

Back home I had a dune buggy project in the works. I had bought a ’65 VW Bug, pulled the body off and used another cut down frame from a ’58 Bug that Johnny had started a couple of years earlier. With Dad and brothers help in welding and fabricating a tube frame under the pan we got the buggy running but it was not ready to be driven on the street. I would drive it in our driveway while Eva sat in the passenger seat. Even though I was just driving back and forth in the driveway, and sometimes into and around the back yard, she loved to ride along. One night I decided to drive the unfinished buggy to our church a few blocks away. Eva and I drove with no lights and brakes that barely worked. We then drove around in the woods behind the church. I was lucky I did not hit a tree. As I was driving back, I thought, ‘this is what it must have been like driving behind enemy lines in World War 2.’ The reason I thought that was, I was driving at night with no lights, I had no license, the buggy was far from legal and brakes that barely worked. In other words, if we got caught, it would not go well for me. Eva was enjoying the ride as much as I was.

As Eva got older, she would sleep a lot. Everyone on our street knew Eva so when they drove down the street, many times she would be sleeping in the middle of the road. They would slow down and drive around her. I was off on one of my world traveling trips when Eva had to be put down due to age. I was sad to learn that she was gone when I returned home. She was a great dog to have while growing up and I have many fond memories of her.