“Tribute to a Dog”
It is strange how tenaciously popular memory clings to the bits of eloquence men have uttered, long after their deeds and most of their recorded thoughts are forgotten, or but indifferently remembered. Wherever and as long as the name of the late Senator Vest of Missouri is mentioned, it will always be associated with his love for a dog.
Many years ago, Senator Vest represented in a law suit , a plaintiff whose dog had been wantonly shot by a neighbor. damages of $200.00 were asked, but after two minutes’ deliberation, the jury awarded the plaintiff $500.00 as a result of the following words by his attorney:
“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 he has raised with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name, may become traitors to their faith.
The money a man has, he may lose. It flies from him, perhaps when he needs it the most.
A man’s reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people that are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us, may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads.
The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, and the one that never proves ungrateful to treacherous, is his dog.
Gentleman of the Jury: A man’s dog stands by him in prosperity, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may 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 the other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings and reputation flies 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 ask no higher privileges 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 side will be the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad but open with watchfulness, faithful and true even to death.”