Since Daniel already wrote about my graduation (thank you for all of the sweet messages!), I am going to jump right into the story behind this statue…


This is a statue of Old Drum, which is located in front of the courthouse in downtown Warrensburg, Missouri, where the University of Central Missouri is located. The story of Old Drum is very interesting, and it is where the phrase “a dog is man’s best friend” originates from.

According to roadsideamerica.com, “Old Drum, a hound dog, was shot dead in 1869 by Samuel “Dick” Ferguson, nephew and ward of Leonidas Hornsby, an irate neighbor who thought Drum had been killing his sheep. Drum’s owner, Charles Burden, sued Hornsby (who also happened to be his brother-in-law), and the case eventually went to the Missouri Supreme Court where Burden won the case. But it was in the courtroom in Warrensburg that Burden’s lawyer, future senator George Graham Vest, delivered his famous tribute: “The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world…is his dog.” A statue of Old Drum was erected, and still stands, on the current Johnson County Courthouse lawn (the old courthouse where Vest delivered his famous speech still stands elsewhere in town). Burden was awarded fifty dollars.”

Burden’s lawyer, George Graham Vest, was known as one of the finest speakers of the time, and his closing arguments, entitled “Eulogy to the Dog” is so moving, it will make any dog lover cry…

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 whom 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 good name — may become traitors in 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 proves ungrateful or treacherous — is his dog…a man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and poverty, in health and 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 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 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.”

I passed this statue every time I went to school. I thought it was fitting that of all the schools in the Kansas City metro area, I chose to get my masters degree from the school in a town that is so pooch-centric, it erected a statue in honor of a slain dog. I’ll miss seeing that statue twice a week, but when I hear someone utter the old saying “dog is man’s best friend,” I’ll smile and think of Warrensburg….and Old Drum.

Advertisements