The loyalty of dogs.
Enjoy some of our favorite stories about loyal dogs throughout
history. Some are true, some are legend, some a combination. If you
are a dog lover, you can't help but admire them all.
Eulogy to a Dog
Ever wonder where the old saying, "A man's best friend is his
dog," came from? Well, if you guessed Warrensburg, Missouri, you
Senator George Graham Vest won a court battle and
the hearts of dog lovers everywhere when he paid his famous tribute
to the dog during the 1870 Burden vs. Hornsby court case in
Warrensburg. The speech included the line, "The one absolutely
unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one
that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or
treacherous, is his dog."
The "euology 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.
The many trials involved prominent attorneys on
both sides. David Nation, whose wife Carrie made a name for
herself in the Temperance Movement, appeared for Burden in one
of the early encounters. The last jury trial, held September 23,
1870, featured the most prominent lawyers.
Old Drum memorial, outside the courthouse where the trial took
Hornsby, the defendant, was
represented by the firm of Crittenden & Cockrell. Tom Crittenden had
been Lt. Col. of the 7th Cavalry, Missouri State Militia (Federal),
in the 'late unpleasantness'. He was to go on to the Governership of
Missouri in 1880; Tom Crittenden issued the reward that motivated
the Ford brothers to kill Jesse James. His partner was Francis
Marion Cockrell, recently a Brigadier General commanding the 1st
Missouri Brigade (CSA), one of the hardest-fighting units in the
Confederate Army of Tennessee. Cockrell later spent 5 terms in the
Appearing for Burden was the Sedalia-based firm
of Phillips & Vest. John Phillips had been a Union Colonel & Tom
Crittenden's immediate superior; he was later a congressman and
a federal judge. George Graham Vest had been a strong
secessionist, having written Missouri's Articles of Secession
while in the state legislature in 1861. His war service was in
Richmond representing Missouri in the Confederate House of
Representatives and Senate. He later served in the U.S. Senate
for 4 terms.
Perhaps because he spent the war talking rather
than fighting, George Vest was known as one of the finest
extemporaneous speakers in an age when the spoken word was the
most important means of communication for most people. Vest's
closing argument in the Old Drum case, known as his "eulogy to
the dog," won the case and became a classic speech, recognized
by William Safire as one of the best of the millenium.
Through the direction of the Warrensburg Chamber
of Commerce and coordinated efforts by many dog lovers across
the country, Old Drum was immortalized in a statue on the
Johnson County Courthouse lawn in Warrensburg on September 23,
1958. Previously, in 1947, Fred Ford of Blue Springs placed a
monument to Old Drum at a crossing of Big Creek where Old Drum's
body was found.
While no record was kept of the last half of
Vest's tribute to a dog, the first portion has fortunately been
preserved. It was this speech that originated the saying, "A
man's best friend is his dog."
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.
Marker where Old Drum was found when shot.
"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."
The memorial to Greyfriar's Bobby.
Bobby, a Skye Terrier belonged to John Gray, who worked for the
Edinburgh, Scotland City Police as a night watchman, and the two
were inseparable for approximately two years. On 8 February 1858,
Gray died of tuberculosis. He was buried in Greyfriar's Kirkyard,
the graveyard in the Old Town of Edinburgh. Bobby, who survived Gray
by fourteen years, is said to have spent the rest of his life
sitting on his master's grave, being fed regularly by the owners of
a restaurant beside the graveyard, and may have spent colder winters
in nearby houses.In 1867, when it was argued that a dog without an
owner should be destroyed, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Sir
William Chambers, who was also a director of the Scottish Society for
the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, paid for Bobby's license,
making him the responsibility of the city council.
Bobby died in 1872 and could not be buried within the cemetery
itself, since it was and remains consecrated ground. He was buried instead just
inside the gate of Greyfriars Kirkyard, not far from John Gray's grave.
A lifesize statue of Greyfriars Bobby was
created by William Brodie in 1872, almost immediately after the
dog's death. This was paid for by a local aristocrat, Baroness
Burdett-Coutts. It is located near the south (main) entrance to
Greyfriars Kirkyard. Originally built as a drinking fountain, it
very aptly had an upper fountain for humans and a lower fountain
The monument reads: Greyfriars Bobby Died 14
January 1872 Aged 16 years Let his loyalty and devotion be a
lesson to us all.
In 1924, Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor in the agriculture
department at the University of Tokyo, took in Hachiko, a golden
brown Akita, as a pet. During his owner's life, Hachiko greeted
him at the end of each day at the nearby Shibuya Station.
The pair continued their daily routine until May
1925, when Professor Ueno did not return. The professor had
suffered from a cerebral hemorrhage and died, never returning to
the train station where Hachiko was waiting. Every day for the
next nine years the dog waited at Shibuya Station.
Hachiko attracted the attention of other
commuters. Many of the people who frequented the Shibuya train
station had seen Hachiko and Professor Ueno together each day.
Initial reactions from the people, especially from those working
at the station, were not necessarily friendly. However, after
the first appearance of a newspaper article about him on October
4, 1932, people started to bring Hachiko treats and food to
nourish him during his wait. This continued for nine years with
Hachiko appearing precisely when the train was due at the
That same year, one of Ueno's students (who
developed expertise on the Akita breed) saw the dog at the
station and followed him to the Kobayashi home (the home of the
former gardener of Professor Ueno, Kikuzaboro Kobayashi) where
he learned the history of Hachiko's life. Shortly after this
meeting, the former student published a documented census of
Akitas in Japan. His research found only 30 purebred Akitas
remaining, including Hachiko from Shibuya Station.
He returned frequently to visit the dog and over
the years published several articles about Hachiko's remarkable
loyalty. In 1932 one of these articles threw the dog into the
national spotlight. Hachiko became a national sensation. His
faithfulness to his master's memory impressed the people of
Japan as a spirit of family loyalty all should strive to
achieve. Teachers and parents used Hachiko's vigil as an example
for children to follow.
A well-known Japanese artist rendered a
sculpture of the dog, and throughout the country a new awareness
of the Akita breed grew. Eventually, Hachiko's legendary
faithfulness became a national symbol of loyalty, particularly
to the person and institution of the Emperor. Hachiko died on
March 8, 1935, and was found on a street in Shibuya. In March
2011 scientists settled the cause of death of Hachiko: the dog
had terminal cancer and a heartworm infection. There were also
four yakitori skewers in Hachiko's stomach, but the skewers did
not damage his stomach or cause his death. Hachiko's mounted
remains are kept at the National Science Museum inTokyo. His
monument is in Aoyama cemetery in Minatoku, Tokyo.
In April 1934, a bronze statue in his likeness
was erected at Shibuya Station , and Hachiko himself was present
at its unveiling. The statue was recycled for the war effort
during World War II. In 1948 The Society for Recreating the
Hachiko Statue commissioned Takeshi Ando, son of the original
artist, to make a second statue. When the new statue appeared, a
dedication ceremony occurred.
The real Hachiko
The new statue, which was erected in August
1948, still stands and is an extremely popular meeting spot.
The station entrance near this statue is named
"Hachiko-guchi", meaning "The Hachiko Entrance/Exit", and is
one of Shibuya Station's five exits. The exact spot where
Hachiko waited in the train station is permanently marked with
bronze paw-prints and text in Japanese explaining his loyalty.
Each year on April 8, Hachiko's devotion is
honored with a solemn ceremony of remembrance at Tokyo's Shibuya
railroad station. Hundreds of dog lovers often turn out to honor
his memory and loyalty. Hollywood retold the story, much changed
from the original, in the 2009 movie Hachi: A Dog's Tale,
starring Richard Gere. In their version the dog's name is
shortened, and the story takes place in America. In 1994, the
Nippon Cultural Broadcasting in Japan was able to lift a
recording of Hachiko barking from an old record that had been
broken into several pieces. A huge advertising campaign ensued
and on Saturday, May 28, 1994, 59 years after his death,
millions of radio listeners tuned in to hear Hachiko bark.
Mourners paying their respects to Hachiko on his death.
The Tragedy of Gelert
His grave in northern Wales is marked by a monument which reads:
"He buried Gelert here. The spot is called Beddgelert."
In the 13 century, Llewelyn, prince of North Wales enjoyed hunting
with his hounds, his favorite being Gelert, an Irish Wolfhound which
was a gift from his father-in-law, King John of England. One day,
Gelert was unaccountably absent as the prince left on his hunt. On
Llewelyn's return, the truant, stained and smeared with blood,
joyfully sprang to meet his master. The prince, alarmed, hastened to
find his son, and saw the infant's cot empty, the bed clothes and
floor covered with blood.
The frantic father drew his sword and plunged it
into the bloody hound. The dog's dying yelp was answered by a
child's cry. Llewelyn searched to discover his son unharmed, but
lying near the body of a mighty wolf, which Gelert had
apparently slain. The prince, filled with remorse, is said never
to have smiled again. Gelert was buried with full honors.