George Graham Vest – Tribute to a Dog

“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.”

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.

35 thoughts on “George Graham Vest – Tribute to a Dog

  1. 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

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

  3. 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….

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

  5. 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.

  6. ~
    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

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

  8. 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.