The truly best and most trusted friends I have had in this world are dogs. My earliest memories are of dogs. I still have a scar on my face from a dog bite when I was about 3 years old. I don’t recall why the dog bit me, but I do recall going right back to see him after it happened – I never learned to stay away from any dog, regardless of their demeanor. As far back as I can remember I have loved dogs – all dogs. My greatest joy and my greatest pain have come from dogs. I can name the dogs that have touched my life with the greatest love: Kathy Darling, Midnight, Butchie Boy, Tasha, Prancer, Worm, Dee Dee, Little Lord Nicholas, Gretchen, Sebastian, Magnum, Besheeba, JR, Sampson, Fancy Face, No Face, Samson, Solomon, Fantasia, Zelda, Sallie, Windsor, Bernard, Tessa, Barry Wonderful, Christmas Mr. Right and Plavix. Each of of these canine friends added depth to my life. I shared many of my life events with them – both good and bad – each special pet having a special place in my heart.
Today, I am writing about Mr. Right; I adopted Mr. Right from the Sin City Saints in Las Vegas after loosing Barry Wonderful, another adopted friend, to bone cancer. Mr. Right, like all the rest, has his own personality. He knew from Day One, like the others, that I would take care of him – somehow they know you have chosen them. We have had our good times and bad times; our happy times and sad times – even our bad and mad times, but at the end of the day, he waits for me and I look forward to seeing him. When I did not feel good or was unhappy, I still had to take care of him. I always had to come home to make sure he got food and water and was taken out. When I went out of town I had to make sure he had a good place to stay and special treats. One of our last trips was to the vet to get his blood checked because he has been on a medication for a long time and his liver and kidneys had to be checked. It was hard to get him into the truck because I had to lift him and in his condition he was like dead weight; however, when I got to the vet, he came alive again. He was so excited to go somewhere and have people make on over him – he actually got a little spring in his step. That visit was $123 and caused my ribs to become inflamed, but would you believe…it was actually worth it to see him enjoy himself and be so happy.
A “Dog Whisper” came to town not too long after I got Mr. Right; he could tell you about your dog just by looking at his picture. I sent Mr. Right’s picture because I couldn’t actually go see the guy because I had to work. Mr. Right had been chewing on his foot “severely,” and nothing seemed to stop him – so it would not get better. The “Dog Whisper” told me two important things about Mr. Right: 1) Mr. Right was chewing on his foot because he thought he was going to be left behind and he was anxious. He had been owned by 2 other people (not the story from the Rescue) and each time the people got boxes to pack and move, they left him behind. At that time, I was actually moving and packing (the Dog Whisperer did not know that). 2) Mr. Right wanted to be an only dog! Darn it – I had just brought another dog into our house.
Tonight as I write this blog and look over at Mr. Right who literally cannot get up because of his osteoarthritis, I am sorry he did not get to be the only dog. I did, however, upon learning that he thought I was going to leave him behind, take him to the new house, let him look around and told him that the boxes I was packing had his stuff in them too; that he was not going to be left behind. The next day, Mr. Right quit chewing on his foot. He is still not an only dog, but I have taken care of him and he has taken care of me in ways that only someone who loves a 4 leggeds can understand.
In the morning he may have to take a final ride to the Vet for that shot that eliminates all pain and will pave the way for My Special Friend to make his way to Rainbow Bridge, the place they say dogs frolick without restriction. Tonight, I reflect on all my special friends who have brought such joy and companionship to my life – but the main focus is on Mr. Right who shared the last 5 years of his Senior Life with me. Once again, facing the loss of a special friend, I find my heart heavy with sadness. I hate it when the end nears – I always wish that God would just let them go to sleep and not make me make the decision to end their life. I am at that place again and morning will most probably force me to make a decision. Tonight, I pray – pray for Mr. Right to not be in pain and for me to make the right decision…and again, pray that God just might answer me this time by allowing Mr. Right to go to sleep on his own. You cannot know Joy without experiencing sorrow.
Below is a Tribute to Man’s Most Unselfish Friend; I have this plaque on my wall. This story is what I believe about “dogs.” I have seen this faithfulness over and over. Thank you, God, for allowing me so many wonderful companions, and thank you My Friends, for sharing my joy and sorrow with you in this blog.
Senator Vest’s “Tribute to the Dog”
It is strange how tenaciously popular memory clings to the bits of eloquence men have uttered, long after their deeds and most of their recorded thoughts are forgotten, or but indifferently remembered. However, whenever and as long as the name of the late Senator George Graham Vest of Missouri is mentioned it will always be associated with his love for a dog.
Many years ago, in 1869, Senator Vest represented in a lawsuit, a plaintiff whose dog “Old Drum” had been willfully and wantonly shot by a neighbor. The defendant virtually admitted the shooting, but questioned to the jury the $150 value plaintiff attributed to this mere animal. To give his closing argument, George Vest rose from his chair, scowling, mute, his eyes burning from under the slash of brow tangled as a grape vine. Then he stepped sideways, hooked his thumbs in his vest pockets, his gold watch fob hanging motionless, it was that heavy. He looked, someone remembered afterwards, taller than his actual 5 feet 6 inches, and began in a quiet voice to deliver an extemporaneous oration. It was quite brief, less than 400 words:
“Gentlemen of the jury: the best friend a man has in the world may turn against him and become his worst 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 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 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 jury deliberated less than two minutes then erupted in joint pathos and triumph. The record becomes quite sketchy here, but some in attendance say the plaintiff who had been asking $150, was awarded $500 by the jury. Little does that matter. The case was eventually appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court, which refused to hear it.
A statue of “Old Drum” was erected on the Johnson County Courthouse Square in Warrensbug, Missouri, where the trial occurred. The statue still stands there today.