Sometimes, when the sun has not shown for a few days, Snookie seems an even more reliable presence in my life than my own shadow. He is there even when my shadow is not. A dog fed love wants nothing more than to return it. A blanket of security, I to him and he to me. A loyal bond broken only by happenstance and never by will. A dog's bond is a gift hard to trump and important to acknowledge. A dog for all his good, is not blessed with the years given to men.
Saying farewell and thank you to a dog nearly kills the heart. So, while there is still some time with Snookie, I am thinking of him today and all the joy and comfort he brings to me. He's on the floor before my feet and soon I will be there too with my arms tight around him in a human to dog embrace. A thank you for and an acknowledgement of his unrelenting and unconditional friendship.
Below is part of the closing statement given by George Graham Vest, a lawyer who was charged with the task of getting retribution in 1869 for a black and tan coonhound named Old Drum who had been shot for wandering on to another man's land. Vest won the jury over with these words about dogs in general. He got Old Drum's owner awarded fifty dollars. That was the highest allowable amount for the offense at the time of the trial.
The following famous words that capture the essence of dogs were only written down sometime after the trial. They are only a part of the closing speech Vest made. It has become known as Vest's Eulogy on the Dog.
“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 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.”
It's a privilege to bond with a dog and to know deeply just how true these words are.