Ever wondered how dogs became man’s best friend?
In sync with this dog’s promise of bridging the (despised) gap between man and canine, here we’ll explore the origin of the phrase, ‘a dog is a man’s best friend’…
Calling me a self-glorifying dog already? Wait, I didn’t come up with this phrase…in fact neither my granddaddy dogs propounded this doctrine either…it was a gentleman from your species who is attributed for coining this immortal phrase. Here in this post, I unearth the relics from the Dog archives and present before you the wonderful tale of Mr Vest…perhaps the best spokesperson that our muted breed ever had!
The year was 1870, the place was peace court in Warrensburg, Missouri, USA. A short yet historic speech, was delivered by George Graham Vest on behalf of a plaintiff seeking damages from a neighbor for killing his dog(named Drum or Old Drum) in a case entitled, Burden v. Hornsby. During the trial, Vest famously stated that he would “win the case or apologize to every dog in Missouri.”
As the case progressed and reached the climatic sequence, none in audience had anticipated what would take place next would go down in the history as a landmark event. Mr. Vest’s closing argument to the jury made no reference to any of the testimony offered during the trial, and instead offered a eulogy of sorts.
“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 honour 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.”
Mr Vest’s moving “Eulogy on the Dog” convinced the jury to decide for the plaintiff and became a classic tribute to man’s best friend. There is more to the following great lines than mere words… it is a timeless gem, a transcript that our species holds in reverence…there have never been any greeting cards for my species on any friendship day and nor do we need any; for Mr Vest’s testimonial suffices for our friendship with anthropoids.
And of course, dogs are a woman’s best friend too!