Animal Stories


by Sen. George G. Vest (1830-1904) of Missouri.

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 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 deserts him, 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 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 fortunes drives the master forth an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege that 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.

(Senator Vest delivered the above address before a jury to recover $250 from the defendant for killing a neighbor's dog. The jury awarded the plaintiff $500.)

- from a paper found in the effects of a man who died in 1928.



The following feat of a dog was yesterday communicated to us by one who was an eye-witness to it:

A setter dog, belonging to one of the workmen engaged in plastering the ceiling of the portico to the Treasury building, essayed to mount the scaffold by the ladder (which was nearly perpendicular) in pursuit of his master. He gradually ascended between forty and fifty rounds and was within eight or ten feet of reaching his destined spot. By this time he evidently became much fatigued and held on with great difficulty. The officers in the building and numerous passers by in the street looked on with deep interest, expecting every moment that the poor dog would tumble from his lofty height and be dashed to pieces. To return by the way he had ascended was impossible. As if sensible of his dangerous situation he seemingly gathered up all his remaining strength for a last desperate effort to save himself, and to the astonishment of the lookers on, leaped through the rounds of the ladder towards a window in the second story of the building, which was at a distance of about twelve feet from him. The dog, being somewhat above the window, jumped at a slightly descending angle, which enabled him to catch with his fore feet the sill, when a gentleman, who was standing at the window watching his movements, seized him by the neck and rescued him from his impending fate.

- National Intelligencer, Washington, D. C., July 7, 1842.


Monkeys - On a shooting party, one of his friends killed a female monkey and carried it to the tent, which was soon surrounded by 40 or 50 of the tribe, who made a great noise, and seemed disposed to attack the aggressor. They retreated when he presented his fowling piece, the dreadful effect of which they had witnessed, and seemed perfectly to understand. The head of the troup, however, stood his ground, chattering furiously; the sportsman did not like to fire at the creature, and nothing short of firing would suffice to drive him off. At length he came to the door of the tent, and finding threats of no avail, began a lamentable moaning, and by the most expressive gestures to beg for the dead body. It was given him - he took it sorrowfully in his arms, and bore it away to his expecting companions. They who were witnesses of the extraordinary scene, resolved never again to fire on one of the monkey race. - [Forbes's Oriental Memoirs.

- National Intelligencer, Washington, D. C., May 18, 1822.


Many years ago a Florentine gentlemen had a mule so vicious that his grooms and servants could hardly approach it without receiving a kick or a bite. Its master, after employing in vain every means to render it more tractable, resolved to expose the creature to the wild beasts in the menagerie of the Grand Duke. A lion was accordingly let loose, whose roaring would have frightened any other animal; but the mule wisely retired without showing any sign of fear to a corner of the court, in which he could only be attacked from behind where its greatest strength lies, and there awaited the attacks of its enemy, observing him all the while from the corner of its eye and presenting its crupper. The lion, sensible of the difficulty of the assault, employed all his address to catch his foe at a disadvantage. At length the mule found an opportunity to give him so violent a kick that nine or ten of his teeth were broken, fragments flying in all directions. The king of beasts acknowledged a defeat and retreated to his den, leaving the mule master of the field.

- Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, Oct 11, 1876.


A Dog's Fidelity. - Parties on the Valley Railroad are attracted daily by the conduct of a large and intelligent dog waiting by the roadside for the daily newspaper, which was formerly thrown to him from the baggage car for his master, who lived half a mile from the rails. The master has been dead many months, but the faithful dog has not missed the mail-train a day since. There is no paper for the master now, but sometimes the baggage-man, in pity for the dog, tosses a paper to him as the train rushes by, which he eagerly seizes and starts joyfully over the hills for his home. When the train has gone by and no paper is thrown he rushes wildly up and down the track, gazing after the cars with an almost human look of disappointment and jogs dejectedly home. - New Haven Register.

- Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, Nov 22, 1876.


A. Paladilhe relates that foxes are tormented by fleas, and when the infliction becomes unbearable, they gather a mouthful of moss, and slowly walk backwards into the nearest stream until only the mouth is left above the surface of the water. The fleas meanwhile take refuge on the little island of moss, and when the fox is satisfied that they have all embarked, he opens his mouth, and the moss drifting away with its freight, the wily animal regains the bank, evidently satisfied at the freedom from his tormentors.

- Bedrock Democrat, Baker City, Ore., Apr 29, 1874.

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