Monday, August 22, 2016

R.I.P. Smiley

Nobody knew exactly where Smiley came from. One winter day around 2008 or 2009, he came to the Worth County Care & Rehab Center. Some said he was a stray who found his way there. Others said he followed his master to the facility when he moved in, and stayed there for the rest of his days even after he passed. Others said he belonged to George Young at one point. But he was fed and spoiled by the residents, staff, and even visitors to the facility. He had not been doing well for the last two years, but he somehow lingered on until finally, he was put down this month. He was given a funeral at the facility that he chose to call home.

The following speech was from George Graham Vest, an attorney who would become Senator from Missouri from 1879 to 1903. In his younger days, he gave this speech defending a plaintiff who was suing someone for the killing of his dog. The following is the speech:

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.

He was not the only dog to adopt a home. Ellen Wickert recounted that her dad went to the Lone Star School near Sheridan before it consolidated with the main building. His family had a dog that would follow him to school every day and sit quietly in the corner until the lessons were over and school was out. When her dad left school, the dog would follow his brother to school, and then later all the other kids. He was just as much a part of Lone Star as the kids were.

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