Old Yeller Day is coming up quick! Celebrated annually on the last Saturday of September, this Texas tradition honors one of the silver screen’s most beloved canine characters. This classic story is quite relevant to us Texans: author Fred Gibson was from Mason. A Houston Heights, TX vet discusses Old Yeller in this article.
Old Yeller is the tale of a dog that wins the hearts of an impoverished family of ranchers in post Civil War Texas. The pooch just shows up one day and refuses to leave. The family is initially annoyed, but quickly warm up as Yeller proves to be being remarkably obedient and protective. Unfortunately, that protective streak is Yeller’s undoing. Yeller ends up contracting rabies while defending the family from a rabid wolf. In what is undoubtedly one of the most heartbreaking scenes in movie history, Travis tearfully puts down his faithful friend—who is by then snarling and snapping as the rabies takes effect. There is a bit of a bittersweet ending, as puppy Little Yeller makes an appearance in the end. Regardless, we don’t recommend watching without having a lot of tissues handy.
The canine companion’s name had a double meaning. There was the yellow coat, and also the pooch’s bark, which sounded like a person yelling.
While Old Yeller wasn’t exactly based on a true story, it was inspired by the time author Fred Gibson spent on farms. Presumably, there were some extraordinary dogs in Gibson’s life. Gibson actually went on to write two sequels to Old Yeller.
If you’ve seen the movie or read the book, then you already know that it’s an absolute tearjerker. One may think that the odds of your family pet being bitten by a rabid animal isn’t likely to happen today. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. Rabies is still very much active here in North America, and is just as dangerous today as it was in the 1800’s. The disease has a nearly 100 percent fatality rate once symptoms start. About 56,000 people die of rabies annually. Even scarier: only 29 people are known to have survived rabies infections. Be sure to keep up with your pet’s vaccinations! Ask your vet for more information.
Do you have questions about your pet’s health or care? Contact us, your local Houston Heights, TX pet hospital, today!