Animal Writes
9 April 2000 Issue

Many years ago, in one of the towns of northern Missouri, a citizen brought a damage suit against a neighbor who had killed his dog. Senator George G. Vest appeared in the case as counsel for the plaintiff. Senator Francis M. Cockrell represented the defendant.

Senator Vest made the closing argument to the jury. He spoke but a few words and these in a low voice and with little gesture. He made no reference to the law, the evidence, or the merits of the case, but confined his remarks to an eloquent and most remarkable tribute to the dog.

The Eulogy

Gentlemen of the jury:

The best human friend a man has in the world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter who 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 most. A man's reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill consideration. The people who are prone to fall on their needs 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 deceives him, the one that never proves ungrateful and treacherous, is his dog.

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 wind blows and the snowdrifts 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 his master sustains. 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 journeys 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, to guard against danger, to fight against his enemies, and when the last scene of all comes and when 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 the gravel may the dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true, even in death.

The Verdict

The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff. It is said that, although the suit was for only $200, the verdict of the jury was for $500, and that some of the jurors wanted to HANG the defendant.

--Author Unknown

Source: [email protected]

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