Eulogy for a Dog

This one is a special favorite of mine and I’ve shared it before but am sharing it again by special request.  A dear friend asked that I post it because we all need to be reminded that the love of our dear companion animals, the beloved canine, is not something new.  Dogs have been loved, cherished and revered for centuries.  This is a speech from a trial in the latter 1800s and it says so much.  Take a moment to read and you will be touched, you will understand….

George Graham Vest (1830–1904) was a lawyer and a politician who served as a Missouri Congressman, a Confederate Congressman during the Civil War, and finally a US Senator.

He is best known for his closing arguments from the trial of a dog named Old Drum in 1870. The speech was delivered in the Johnson County Circuit Court in Warrensburg, Missouri.

George Graham VestGeorge Vest (1830-1904) 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 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 our good name, may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has, he may lose. It flies away 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 who 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 or treacherous is his dog.

Gentleman of the jury: A man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, 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 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.

Thanks so much Jessie for bringing this favorite back…

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  1. So true, no matter what, the dog will stands by your side. Even when unemployment strikes, your dog is just happy to have you at home even more than before!

    • That is so true! When I was between jobs, by dogs were so happy that I was home. I wish I could be at home with them everyday.

  2. Jess had sent me this also, and when I read it the first time, I cried, because it is so so true. Friends come and go, but the ultimate one who is faithful thru thick and thin is our beloved pups.

    Thanks Jess for sending it to D., and thanks D. for sharing this.

    • Susie, I have posted this before and it's also on my website and in the first issue of my newsletter that goes out. It's a powerful speech and one of my very favorite pieces. I love that I have a pic to go with thanks to Jess :) And, yes, it brought tears to me eyes the first time I read it as well.

  3. And we wonder why so many people trust their dogs more than their friends and sometimes family ………… Thanks, Deanna, for sharing this again. Please run it every so often because we get new people on the web site, and we all need to be reminded of the unconditional love animals give us no matter what others may think of us. This is a wonderful speech, and he won the case! A statue of Old Drum remains outside the courthouse today.

  4. Thanks so much. WELL worth repeating, again and again. If only our current Washington and local elected officials would read this over and over – or at least once!!!!

    • Bill, I think most of us feel that way. With humans, it is always conditional, where with our pups, it is unconditional.

  5. Thanks for running it D….I get teary eyed every time I read it. Glad I was able to get a picture of this outstanding, wonderful, lawyer….Mr. Vest, for you to post with the story. If only we had a billion more like him in exsistance today. What a different world (for the animals) it would be. God Bless his beautiful soul.

  6. if this does,nt choke you up,something is wrong with you,one may fool people about their heart but dogs and babies know,no matter what.If they don't like you better change your heart,heaven awaits.My mom gave me this eulogy when I was a young boy,I kept it by my bed,got teary eyed when I would read it,now 50yrs later I still get teary eyed,thanks for posting it an all your efforts,you are doing good.

  7. Hello Mark…….

    What a beautiful gift your mom gave you when you were just a lad. It instilled a good towards dogs within you. Your mom should be proud. I too get teary eyed over this one every time. A friend of mine was going through some things and showed this to me. After a lot of tears, I sent it on to D to post. I'm so glad she did. It's an amazing story! I'm so glad you were able to be reminded of it.

    Andrea…how about it? Maybe it should be re-posted for the new dog lovers on the site. It is such a beautiful eulogy.

    Glad it brought back good memories for you Mark.

    • Of all gods creatures, I think it may well be possible he favors dogs. Because he instilled in dogs the concept of unconditional love& gave dogs the task of enlightening us humans by example. My real point in this has to do with why God gave these marvelous animals such a short lifespan. My personal theory is that God loves them so much he wants them back .

  8. No matter what size the dog. Their love is there and will comfort and be with you . They will make you laugh and get a bit klutzy. They will look at you as if they know what you are saying to them and indeed at times I believe they do…I would always recommend a dog or cat for anyone living alone.