Do you remember the Disney classic Old Yeller? It may be time for a rewatch; September 24th is Old Yeller Day. Of course, you’ll want to stock up on tissues before seeing the film: it contains one of the most heartbreaking scenes ever. A San Antonio, TX vet offers some insight into the film below.
Old Yeller was based on a novel by rancher Fred Gipson, who was a Mason native. The manuscript is now preserved in the Library of Congress for its cultural significance. The book wasn’t specifically based on a true story, but it very much was influenced by time Gibson spent on ranches … presumably around some beloved dogs. In the story, Yeller shows up on the ranch of a struggling family in 1800’s Texas. The pup is originally unwelcome, but wins the family over by being a very, very good boy. The story follows the story of Yeller and his human, Travis, touching on that special, deep bond between humans and animals.
The fictional Yeller is a Black Mouth Cur. However, the canine’s part was played by a pooch named Spike, who was a Mastodor, a Mastiff/Lab Retriever mix. Spike’s story is also pretty interesting. A former shelter pup, the pooch was trained by Frank Weatherwax. Weatherwax was also the trainer for another famous pup: Pal, the original Lassie. As for Spike, Old Yeller wasn’t his only acting gig. He also appeared in Lassie and The Mickey Mouse Club.
Ever wonder how Old Yeller got his name? There’s a double meaning to the pup’s now-famous moniker. The pup’s fur was yellow, which was often pronounced as ‘yeller’ back then. Plus, the canine’s bark sounded like a human yelling.
We can’t really discuss Old Yeller without mentioning rabies. If you remember, the faithful pooch contracted the deadly disease when protecting his humans from a rabid wolf. The main character, Travis, is devastated when Old Yeller, who is quarantined, starts showing signs of aggression. This, as you may know, is a classic sign of rabies. (Stephen King took that to a whole new level with Cujo, but that’s another topic.) Rabies is still as deadly today as it was in the post-Civil War era. In fact, it’s the deadliest virus on the planet, with a nearly 100% fatality rate. Keep up with your canine pal’s vaccinations!
As your San Antonio, TX animal clinic, we’re dedicated to offering top-notch care. Contact us anytime!