Dogs Best Tribute to Man's Best Friend Part 3

About the best tribute to man's best friend in history a court case to defend a dog.


"It was as perfect a piece of oratory as was ever heard from pulpit or bar. Court, jury, lawyers, and audience were entranced. I looked at the jury and saw all were in tears. The foreman wept like one who had just lost his dearest friend. The victory for the other side was complete. I said to Cockrell that we were defeated; that the dog, though dead, had won, and that we had better get out of the courthouse with our client or we would be hanged."

When Vest had finished, the jury was so mesmerized that it returned a unanimous judgment of $550 in damages instead of $150 for Charles Burden--actually, for Old Drum. When Judge Wright collected his wits, he reduced the judgment to the Court's legal limit of $150.

While no record was kept of the last half of George Graham Vest's tribute to a dog, the 1st portion has fortunately been preserved. It was this speech that originated the saying, "A man's best friend is his dog."

George Graham Vest speaking

"Gentlemen of the jury, the best friend a man has in this world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter whom he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us--those whom we trust with our happiness and good name--may become traitors in their faith. The money that a man has he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it most. A man's reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us may be the 1st to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads. The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world--the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous--is his dog.

"Gentlemen of the jury, a man's dog stands by him in prosperity and poverty, in health and sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow, and the snow drives fiercely, if only he can be near his master's side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer; he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounter with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.

"If fortune drives the master forth an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him to guard against danger, to fight against his enemies. And when the last scene of all comes, and death takes the master in its embrace, and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by his graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even to death."

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