‘Old Yeller’ No Longer a Story They Can Identify With

Growing up for several years in a rural area, rabies was something that we were taught about and taught to be careful about. Actually, this was also when I lived in a suburb of a major city and in a small Midwestern town, but I think it was something I thought about more whilst in the midst of middle-of-nowhere-Michigan. (Truly, I lived near a town named after a Potawattomie chief, Tekon-qua-sha which doesn’t really appear on a lot of maps and currently has a population in the 700 range.)

Old Yeller gave me an understanding of protecting not only myself but also the many dogs and cats we had over the years. I didn’t particularly like the book but it made a poignant point and it upset me that the dog had to die. Apologies if I just ruined the ending for anyone. It also carried a strong message that explained why one doesn’t just walk up to strange, foaming at the mouth animals.

But perhaps that is now a thing of the past as I see in the news today that US Declared Canine-Rabies Free. This of course is only until someone brings an infected animal into the US but still, rabies is no longer a major consideration when I pass 20 dogs on the street. I doubt they’ll be recommending that we forgo vaccinations anytime soon—at least I hope not for a few more years.

It’s amazing the changes as we overcome disease. I grew up not knowing Mumps and Measles as my mother did, nor polio as my grandmother. My generation was one of the last to have the Chicken pox–though that was still prevalent when I was teaching at Gymboree a couple of years ago. I wonder what else my grandchildren (should there ever be any) will no longer have to face.