George Graham Vest - Tribute to a Dog

Historians consider it one of the greatest speeches ever written about a dog. US Senator George Graham Vest (1830-1904) was one of the leading debaters of his time, and offered this observation on dog greatness when he was still practicing law in a small Missouri town. He represented a man who sued another for the killing of his dog, and after offering the following summation to the jury, he won the case.

Gentlemen of the Jury: The best friend a man has in the 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 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 man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or 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 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 him against danger, to fight against his enemies. And when the last scene of all comes, and death takes his 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 graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad, but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even in death.







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35 comments

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    July 17, 2012 11:42 amPosted 2 years ago
    Cheryl F

    That’s beautiful.

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    July 17, 2012 12:43 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Eddie

    Shared here! :-)

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  • July 17, 2012 12:43 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Denise

    very true

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  • July 17, 2012 12:43 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Andy

    how true!!!

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  • July 17, 2012 12:44 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Alison

    Exactly!!

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  • July 17, 2012 12:47 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Maritza

    absolutely right dogs are amazing, compassion, loyal, etc they are angels on earth, the best creation of God

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  • July 17, 2012 12:47 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Louise

    true true

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  • July 17, 2012 12:47 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Jeffrey

    because a dog doesnt care if your rich, poor, skinny, fat, or anything like that, all they care about is loving you for who you are not what you are, all they want is your love and your food in return LOL

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  • July 17, 2012 12:48 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Helene

    beautiful and true

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  • July 17, 2012 12:49 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Monica

    My dogs are very selfish, but they

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  • July 17, 2012 12:50 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Monica

    My dogs are very selfish, but they are honest about it. if they had their way, they would be with me 24/7

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    July 17, 2012 12:52 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Caroline

    Thank you, this is an extremely moving piece :)

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  • July 17, 2012 12:52 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Jeannie

    Beautiful!

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    July 17, 2012 12:54 pmPosted 2 years ago
    William

    Four paws up! My dogs will never turn on me and I will never turn on them. They are my best friends on earth.

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  • July 17, 2012 12:57 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Mary

    great sentiment a dog is faithful to the end

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  • July 17, 2012 1:03 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Angela

    BEAUTIFUL

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  • July 17, 2012 1:04 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Lorraine

    My dogs are truly my best friends……I am greatfull that they let me share my life with them…. I would not want to live in a world without dogs…..they are honest and trustworthy…and they never judge you….thank you to my little fur babies….I love you all so much….

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    July 17, 2012 1:05 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Kim

    Amen! Well said, all above, and no matter when you get home, they are waiting, and wagging! I have lots of doggy friends!!! Lol!!!

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  • July 17, 2012 1:05 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Perla

    So true. Example: Woman gone for 3 years and her dog welcomed her back with open paws. A true Love Story. Unconditional love they give. They truly are the ones, that no matter what, are there for us. Love my pets to death. Kudos to my Mr. Stitch, Ms. Fiona Rose, and Ms. Lilly, oh and don’t let me forget our goldfish(4yrs old) Ms. Dorothy. Love you guys so much.

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  • July 17, 2012 1:06 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Kassey

    Absolutely true

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    July 17, 2012 1:07 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Toni

    He does beautiful quotes on dogs.

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  • July 17, 2012 1:10 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Bob

    Sooooo true. In this messed up world it is great to have dogs. Helps keep the sanity! And the love is tops!

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  • July 17, 2012 1:18 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Danielle

    Thank you shared

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  • July 17, 2012 1:22 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Bayb

    Thanks for sharing. Wonderful tribute!

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  • July 17, 2012 1:35 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Kathy

    Word!

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  • July 17, 2012 1:42 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Michael

    ~
    The Creation

    When God had made the earth and sky
    the flowers and the trees,
    He then made all the animals
    the fish, the birds and bees.

    And when at last He’d finished
    not one was quite the same.
    He said, “I’ll walk this world of mine
    and give each one a name.”

    And so, He traveled far and wide
    and everywhere He went,
    a little creature followed Him
    until it’s strength was spent.

    When all were named upon the earth
    and in the sky and sea,
    the little creature said, “Dear Lord,
    there’s not one left for me.”

    Kindly the Father said to him,
    “I’ve left you to the end.
    I’ve turned my own name back to front
    and called you dog, My friend.”

    Author Unknown

    Woof woof! Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

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      July 17, 2012 8:18 pmPosted 2 years ago
      linda

      I like that, Michael!

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  • July 17, 2012 1:47 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Robina

    Awesome and 1000% TRUE!!!

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    July 17, 2012 1:48 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Ramin

    Each day I am more convinced that the story of the angels god created to love and guard us is really referreing to dogs.

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  • July 17, 2012 1:49 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Stephanie

    Stunning.

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    July 17, 2012 7:04 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Tracey

    Oh how eloquent. I can see how the case was won. I have to go and hug our dogs now.

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    July 17, 2012 8:22 pmPosted 2 years ago
    linda

    Senator Vest was certainly correct. I love how he put it so elequently.

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    September 28, 2012 12:22 amPosted 1 year ago
    Teresa

    I have read this many times & it always brings a tear to my eye. There was also a movie from this story; although I don’t recall it’s title. I’ve had many dogs in my life & each one holds a special place in my heart. I believe that if every shelter would require this to be read & signed before relinquishing your dog, alot of dogs would be going back home with their owners.

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    January 6, 2014 5:53 amPosted 7 months ago
    i

    brought a tear to my eye<3xxxoooxoxooxo dogs for eva !!!1!111 xxxxx

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    January 6, 2014 6:02 amPosted 7 months ago
    bruce

    i- that was such a moving comment- let’s meet up?;);)

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