I was 8 or 9 and was reading my way through one of my grandfather’s old, dusty and musty Condensed Reader’s Digest Stories. Till date i love those old musty books, smelling of moth balls and dust rather than books that smell new and untouched by human dust or hands. But I digress, so there I lay and read ‘Old Yeller’. For those not familiar with it- it’s set in the wild west and is the story of a boy and a dog called Yeller for his tawny fur. It is a story about friendship, heartbreak and love. The story builds up to a highly emotional scene where the boy has to shoot Yeller for he became rabid fighting off a rabid wolf to save the boy. The lines that never seem to go from my memory were ‘he came wagging his tail towards me…..(after killing the wolf)’…….and then the boy had to shoot him while Yeller looked trustingly at him. SOB!
I can still see the illustrations of the story on the musty pages in my mind. It was a story that has lasted for years in my memory and recently when I looked it up on the Wikipedia it was listed as a Children’s story……it was not childish at all and the feelings it brought up in me were too terrible to have as a child, or maybe childhood means visiting sad emotions with an innocence that will forever brand them in your memory. It taught me the meaning of carrying a burden for I was and am sure that the boy will never forgive himself for killing his friend to save his family. The price on either side too hard to pay.