Old_Drum_dog Statue cropped

Old Drum

Yesterday, I shared what I believe is a great and substantive story from the July/August Arizona Attorney. And before that issue shuffles off this mortally digital coil, let me suggest you read one more item.

Retired Judge Bill Schafer offered us this story about Old Drum, a dog who trotted into legal infamy even as he died.

Like many remarkable events, this one started unremarkably:

“During its 1872 July term, the Missouri Supreme Court announced what appeared to be an innocuous opinion concerning $100. It opened with these words ‘Suit was brought originally before a justice of the peace for killing plaintiff’s dog, and damages were laid at $100’ and ended 10 sentences later with a decision for the dog’s owner. That was 106 years ago, and we are still talking about the case. You may recognize it as ‘Senator Vest’s Tribute To The Dog.’”

“The dog was named Old Drum. He was a black hound dog and had been Charles Burden’s companion for years. They lived in Warrensburg, Missouri. Burden’s brother-in-law, Leonidas Hornsby, lived next door, and they were both farmers.”

Well, if you watched Old Yeller or any other countless artistic works about dogs, you probably know it did not end well for Old Drum. But out of his story, we got a touching soliloquy on the relationship a person may have with his companion animal.

In my editor’s column this month, I urged folks to read Judge Schafer’s essay. In so doing, I poked some fun at my December 2005 column that had been “guest-written” by our dog Cleo.

Cleo tries her hand at a little writing, Ariz. Attorney, Dec. 2005

Cleo tries her hand at a little writing, Ariz. Attorney, Dec. 2005

The month’s poignancy was multiplied, though, when within a few weeks Cleo took ill and died on July 11. It was a traumatic event in our house, though we knew that our 17-year-old friend had lived a good and full life.

Enjoy the judge’s article. And then go home and, if you’ve got one, pat the head of your four-legged friend.

Cleo on porch 07-06-13

Cleo considers whatever it is dogs consider, July 6, 2013.

Cory Schafer

The other day, the newspaper published what may be one of the finest obituaries you’re likely to ever come across. It was for me.

I did not know Cory Schafer, but her husband Bill Schafer is a longtime member of the Arizona legal community—and a terrific writer, to boot.

I can’t be sure that Bill penned this tribute to his lovely wife, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the last. In fact, Bill wrote for Arizona Attorney Magazine, where he prevailed more than once in our annual Creative Arts Competition (read his pieces here and here.)

Reading the obituary tells you not just a lot about Cory Schafer. It also gives us a window into life and law practice, in Washington, Alaska and Arizona, for one hectic and happy family.

Bill Schafer

As the obit writer put it, Cory “kept [Bill] extremely happy—and thankful that he asked the guy next to him in study hall the first year in high school who the pretty blonde was walking up the aisle. They were together for 65 years after that.”

My condolences to Bill and his family.

Read the complete obituary here.