A dear friend recently lost her mother and the task of clearing out a lifetime of memories from her mother's house was shared equally between herself and her sisters. In the process, my friend discovered and rescued a hand-typed notation on two very thin pages, yellowed with age and slightly eaten, entitled 'IN PRAISE OF THE DOG'. There is no indication of who painstakingly typed the words or who originally wrote them, but she kept the pages and passed them onto me.
Following are the precious words given to me ... the collector of dogs and all things canine ... and now shared with all.
"Gentlemen of the Jury, -- The best friend a man has in this world may turn against him and become his enemy. The son and daughter that he has reared with loving care may become ungrateful. Those nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name, may become traitors to their faith. The money a man has he may lose. It flies from him when he needs it most. Man's reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall upon their knees and do us honour 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 a man may 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 poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, when the wintery winds blow and the snow drives fiercely. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer. He will lick the sores and wounds that come from the encounter with the roughness of the world.
"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 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 his graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, and his eyes open in alertness, faithful and true even to death."