This weekend marks the opening of deer season in Missouri and last weekend was the opening of duck season in our area and two weeks ago was the opening of quail season. Hunting is a way of life in the midwest and many people, including myself, hunt with dogs.
The next couple days will feature dog stories. The first story is a story I found that I thought was worth sharing and the second is my own dog story. If you have, or have ever had, a dog you love you’ll appreciate both stories.
“The one absolutely unselfish friend that humans can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts them, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is their dog.”
~George Graham Vest, Senator of Missouri, 1855
As a primer for the next two days, here’s the story of “Old Drum” who’s statue you can see just up the road in Warrensburg. If you know the story, skip it and come back tomorrow.
The “eulogy to the dog” won the case for Charles Burden whose favorite hound, Old Drum, was shot by a neighbor & brother-in-law, Leonidas Hornsby, who had sworn to shoot the first sheep-killing dog that came onto his land. Although Hornsby had hunted with Drum and acknowledged him to be one of the best hunting dogs he had ever seen, he also suspected that Drum was the dog that had been killing his sheep. Hornsby, carried out his threat when one night a dog was found prowling in his yard. That dog was Old Drum.
Burden immediately sued Hornsby for damages, and the trial quickly became one of the strangest in the history of this area of the country. Each man was determined to win the case. After several trials at magistrate court and district court, punctuated by appeals by the loser in each trial, the case finally reached the Supreme Court of Missouri. The award of $50 in damages to Burden for the loss of his favorite hunting dog was upheld.
George Graham Vest speaking:
“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 whom 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 in 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-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 absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world — the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous — is his dog.
“Gentlemen of the jury, a man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and poverty, in health and sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow, and the snow drives fiercely, if only he can 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 encounter 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.”