Last week Full Cry made us aware of the story of the “Eulogy of the Dog.”
Full Cry, in more detail, tells the story of Missouri lawyer George G. Vest (who would later become US Senator George G. Vest, above) and how he came to represent a client named Charles Burden in his lawsuit regarding the death of his best foxhound, Old Drum.
Vest’s closing argument, delivered on Sept. 23, 1870, on behalf of his client and his dog quickly became famous among dog lovers. Here it is, in full:
“The best friend man has in the world may turn against him and become his worst enemy. His son, or his daughter, that 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 to their faith. The money 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 when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our head.
The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog. A man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground when the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only to 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 encounters 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 wing, and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.
If fortune dries his master forth, an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege that that of accompanying him against danger, to fight against his enemies. And when that last scene comes, and death takes his 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 the graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad, but open in alert watchfulness, faithful, and true, even in death.”