Saturday, March 24, 2018

Red Foley - Old Shep

Dogs are legally property, but nobody really believes that.  Yesterday we learned of a dog that was awarded the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross, an official recognition that valor exists in the creatures is a way that will never be seen in, say, the dining room table.

But lawyers are an odd race* and when a West Virginia woman's dog was killed by a negligent driver, she sued for loss of companionship.  The decision in Charbasho v. Musulin went against her, ruling that a dog is legally equivalent to, say, a dining room table.  The dissent referenced this song, and included Red Foley's lyrics as evidence that a dog is so much more than property.

It's a sad song, but captures the depths of emotion that we feel for our four footed friends.  Red Foley is all but forgotten today but was one of the first of the Country Music mega stars.  He sold 25 Million albums, back when the population was maybe half what it is now.  He hosted the first Country Music TV show, Ozark Jubilee.  He was in a couple movies.  Unusually, he was a College Man, but was discovered by a talent scout as a freshman.  He never looked back as his career took off in the 1930s.   He was known as "Mr. Country Music".

This song is from 1941, on the eve of the war.  It was about his German Shepherd (named Hoover) who was poisoned by a neighbor.  This was the first song that Elvis Presley performed publicly.  He was 10 years old and had to stand on a chair to reach the microphone.  It was at the 1945 Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show, and he came in fifth place, winning $5.

Old Shep (Songwriters: Red Foley, Arthur Willis):
When I was a lad and old Shep was a pup
Over hills and meadows we'd stray
Just a boy and his dog, we were both full of fun
We grew up together that way 
I remember the time at the old swimmin' hold
When I would have drowned beyond doubt
But old Shep was right there, to the rescue he came
He jumped in and helped, pulled me out 
As the years fast did roll, old Shep, he grew old
His eyes were fast growing dim
And one day the doctor looked at me and said
"I can do no more for him, Jim" 
With hands that were trembling, I picked up my gun
And aimed it at Shep's faithful head
I just couldn't do it, I wanted to run
I wish they would shoot me instead 
He came to my side and he looked up at me
And laid his old head on my knee
I had struck the best friend that a man ever had
I cried so I scarcely could see 
Old Shep, he has gone where the good doggies go
And no more with old Shep, will I roam
But if dogs have a Heaven, there's one thing I know
Old Shep has a wonderful home
* Offered in evidence: Shakespeare's quote from Julius Caesar. First round up all the lawyers.


Jeffrey Smith said...

Loss of companionship cases usually refer to spouses: either death or injury so severe that the couple can no longer live together. If the woman had won, it would have been, in effect, the equivalent of saying Wolfgang is as important as the Queen of the World.... Now, as much as you love Wolfgang, I don't think you'd go that far.

Borepatch said...

Jeff, agreed there's no comparison between the QoTW and Wolfgang.