Dog is Man’s best friend. Who coined that phrase anyway? Some say it can be traced way back to a Dog named Old Drum. Who is Old Drum?
Old Drum was just an ordinary dog, who lived an extraordinary life. He lived a simple, quiet life with his owner Mr. Charles Burden. However, it was not until after his death that he became famous. You see, Charles Burden’s brother-in-law and neighbor, Leonidas Hornsby, had grown angry about the death of his sheep. He was seething mad, actually and one night threatened to kill the very next dog that set foot on his property.
One fateful day in October 1869, Old Drum happened to make his way onto Leonidas Hornsby’s property. Leonidas ordered his nephew to gun down poor Old Drum. Heartbroken and downright angry upon finding Old Drum’s body, dead, on Hornsby’s land, Charles Burden sought justice. He enlisted the services of lawyer (and future senator) George Graham Vest and sued Leonidas. In fact, this case went through numerous trials including an appeal that took them all the way to the Missouri Supreme Court. Interestingly enough, George Graham Vest delivered an amazing tribute to Old Drum (and dogs everywhere for that matter) during his closing argument at one of the trials in the lower court in Warrensburg. This now famous speech resounded in hearts across the world and is believed to be the point at which dogs became known as man’s best friend.
In part of his speech, George Graham Vest says “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.”
A memorial statue is displayed outside of the Johnson County Courthouse in Warrensburg to this day in memory of him and his master Charles Burden. Rest in paradise Old Drum.