Volume 8, Number 2, Winter 1983
(An excerpt from an address by Senator S.E. Bronson of Ozark, Christian County, Missouri, Assembly, 1915, which called for the licensing of dogs.)
"When I realize the part the dog has played with the pioneer in changing this great Commonwealth of ours from a wilderness to a fertile garden of peace and beauty, and how he has helped in reclaiming Missouris varied natural resources, well known to be the greatest of any State in this Union, I say that I am astonished that we are now confronted with this proposition asking us to make an outlaw of mans most faithful friend, the dog!
Mr. President, I could not go home and live there if I did not resist the passage of a law like this with all my power.
Senators, I have hundreds of constituents who have not accumulated much of this worlds goods. Many who have but a cross-cut saw, a broad axe, a pack of hounds and a big family of children. They live in the hills, and as pioneers they are trying in their humble way to make an honest living. They make ties by day and hunt by night. They are "hewers of wood and drawers of water." They are as necessary to the future welfare of this great State as the citizens who live in brown stone fronts upon a boulevard or in great white houses on the fertile farms of North Missouri. These men of the mountains are making civilizations. With the woodsmans axe they are beating away the forest to make way for the home of thousands of useful citizens; filled with dauntless courage, patriotic to a degree of rashness, urged on by a hope that knows no fear, and with a faith that is broad as their hospitality is boundless, they live there in the mountains surrounded by the environments of nature. There they live to love and woo and wed. They have inherited the spirit of Boone, their ancestor; they emulate the example of Columbus in persistence, by going on from day to day and year to year, living the simple life, loving the things that God has given them. These brawney sons of men with stout hearts, strong arms and red blood in their veins are turning that great Eden of scenic beauty into an empire of wealth and glory that will be a joy forever.
There comes to my mind now one of these men, a typical son of the Ozark Mountains in this great State--tall, lithe, slender, his muscles hard as iron, swarthy skin and high cheek bone, his hair and eyes black as any ravens coat, tokens that in his veins courses the blood of the American Indian, from whom we took by might, if you please, this land, their "happy hunting ground." We paid a paltry price. tis true, more be the shame. I am thinking, what if he were here and were allowed to speak upon this subject, the subject of putting a price--a tax upon the dog--mans truest, most faithful friend; of making him an outlaw, unless he wear a brass tag and collar the price of which will be used to support in ease and luxury the Dog Commissioner of Missouri. I can hear this friend of mine-and of the dogs, plead with you and say: God created man in His own image and created woman a little lower than the angels. Of mans God-like attribute of love He took a share; of womens endowment of fidelity He took a portion and put these two into Mans Best Friend, the dog. From birth to death Man chooses him close to his mothers knee. Youth sees him with his fellows--gay and thoughtless. Early manhood finds him lingering with the one he adores-she with downcast eyes, and hair of gold, and smile of love. Middle life discovers him learning wisdom from the sages in many a rusty tome and mildewed page. Yet none of these can be inter-changed. The sane could not dry the tears from the cheek of
the crying babe, nor yet would a mothers presence satisfy the burning heart of youth. It remains for one of Gods lowly creatures to touch the heart strings of man at every age in life, from lisping babe playing in the morning light, to tottering graybeard standing in the slanting sun. For the dog is the creature of evolution and it is a far cry form the wolf dragging the dripping form of the child from the waters of the tarn. Domesticted he has stolen emotions from his masters soul--love, hate, sorrow, joy--and above all, fidelity. The dog is the co-provider with the mountaineer, and on every night his tonguing wakes the golden echoes on the hills. He is the boon companion of careless urchin, confident of emperor and king; habitue of palace garden, sleeping nuisance of hovel step, out-rider of coach-of-state, hanger-on of creaking cart.
He is a follower of Zeno; though upon him the suns of summer burn and the hesitant flakes of winter fall and in his heart the fangs of hunger and want may find a hold-he is the Stoic, unmindful and uncomplaining still.
Today we find him in the pall-hung swamps of Russia and on every European battlefield; there soldier boys have fallen hidden by the gloom of night, the Red Cross Dogs seek out some mothers son--some childrens father, and points the way to those who offer aid and who would nurse back to life the flickering flame.
And in the end, he meets not death upon his masters step beseeching sympathy, but steals away to battle the last grim hour alone, far from the haunts of men, and leave his stiffened form among the chaparral and vine, as though to hide his pain from those he loves--mute lession to mankind.
And is he to be the Ahasuerus of the quadrupeds--lone wanderer by field and stream, whose tired feet must tread the outlaw paths of earth?"
(At the close of this address a vote was taken upon the bill, and completely snowed under with only three votes in its favor.)
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