Man's Best Friend
One doesn’t have to mention who it is without knowing that it’s a dog. Here is the story and eulogy of Missouri’s Old Drum as well as an incredible example of “man’s best friend” in Japan.
- Where does the saying “man’s best friend” come from?
- George Vest's closing argument
- Another dog who gained people’s attention
- Movies inspired by these beloved dogs
Where does the saying “man’s best friend” come from?
In Sedalia, Missouri 1869, George Graham Vest was asked to represent Charles Burden and his dog Old Drum. Old Drum was a beloved hound dog that wandered onto his neighbor’s land and was shot and killed by Leonidas Hornsby; a man who swore to shoot the next dog who came upon his property after losing several sheep from various dogs.
The case was tried on September 23, 1870, Burden sued for the maximum allowed by the law of $50.00 for damages.
In the closing argument to the jury, Vest made no mention to the testimony offered during the trial instead he gave a “Eulogy on the Dog” (only a partial transcript had survived). It is from this tribute, the saying “Man’s Best Friend” is credited.
George Vest's closing argument
“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.
Gentlemen 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, 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. “
Needless to say Vest won the case. A statue of Old Drum stands in front of the Warrensburg, Missouri courthouse.
Another dog who gained people’s attention
In 1924 Professor Hidesabuō Ueno at the University of Tokyo took in Hachikō, an Akita Inu dog as a pet. Everyday Hachikō greeted his master at the Shibuya Station after the professor’s day of work. They continued their routine until May 1925 when the professor one day didn't return where his friend waited. Professor Ueno died suddenly after a cerebral hemorrhage.
Hachikō was given away after his master's death only to escape time again to return to his old home. Eventually he realized that his master no longer lived there and returned to Shibuya station where he had accompanied his friend so often in the past. There Hachikō continued his long wait for his owner. For nine years Hachikō waited at the station for his master to return.
Commuters couldn't help but notice Hachikō and how he returned precisely each day at the station when the train was due. They remembered him with the professor and knew who he was waiting for. They brought food to nourish him through the years that followed.
Sadly, Hachikō died on March 8, 1935; his heart infected with filarial worms and in his stomach were 3 to 4 yakitori sticks.
Hachikō's faithfulness to his master inspired the people of Japan and in April 1934, a bronze statue of Hachikō was placed at Shibuya station. Because of WWII the statue was recycled for the war effort and later replaced in 1948.
We can only hope master and best friend were reunited, never to be separated again.
There are countless stories of the incredible bond between dog and man. How much do these furry canines understand? One would be surprised; just look at your dog and see how he/she communicates with you and remember they love you unconditionally.
Movies inspired by these beloved dogs
The Trial of Old Drum. A 2000 movie, starring Scott Bakula, Bobby Edner
Hachi: A Dog's Tale. A 2009 movie, starring Richard Gere, Joan Allen