National Dog Week
The dog is indeed "man's best friend". It is an overused phrase but still the truth remains of the depth of our relationship with dogs. It is that relationship which is celebrated during National Dog Week which runs this year,Sept. 22 through Sept.30. This year is the 74th year for this special tribute. "Man's Best Friend" is the theme.
National Dog Week was originally founded in 1928 by Captain Will Judy, a noted dog judge and former publisher of Dog World Magazine. The whole purpose of National Dog Week was and still is to educate all dog owners in their responsibilities to their pets and to their communities. It was aimed particularly at those organizations dedicated to caring for unwanted or lost dogs.
This whole idea that the dog is "man's best friend" is believed to have originated during a closing argument given by Sen. George Graham Vest, of Missouri. Vest, who was a lawyer, was representing a man whose dog was deliberately shot and killed by a neighbor. The grief stricken dog owner was suing the neighbor for damages.
In his closing argument, Senator Vest gave what has become the famous "Tribute to the American Dog." The speech to the jury was so powerful that it not only won the case, and it was inscribed in a monument in Warrensburg, Missouri. It has also been included by William Safirein in his compendium of the world's great speeches.
The following is a part of that speech. At the time it was given it was reported that there was not a single dry eye in the courtroom.
"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 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. ... 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. ... 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. ..."
National Dog Week is celebrated in a very individualistic way. Donations of money and food can be organized for local shelters. Emphasis can be given on topics such as pet overpopulation and the need to neuter/spay and obedience train your dog. But most importantly it is a time to reflect just how special your dog is in your life and to spend a little extra time with him. For that is what means the most to your "best friend" in this busy world of ours.