Old Yeller

It’s time we return to that which is good and true. We need to abandon the nonsense, and quick, lest we are swept away into the turbulent waters of politics and victimization and forget that which made us.

Things that are good and true. Think about that. Like, for example, the love of a boy for his dog. I just finished reading “Old Yeller” with my little boy at night. We read at night, first a few chapters of a book (we just finished the LOTR!); and then a few passages of the bible as we digest the day and the things that life threw at us that we need to think about and ‘put to bed’, literally and figuratively. “Old Yeller” is a quintessential American story. About a frontier family, a dad who drives the cows to the great cattle farms of Kansas to sell leaving his adolescent boy in charge of the farm. Work from sunup to sundown, milking and harvesting and hunting to make sure things were ready for the long Texas winter. Accompanied by his old yeller dog.

Until a plague of rabies overtakes the land and he has to put the dog down. My little boy clutched his stuffed animal dog at that part, to then rush down and find our own little old dog asleep on the rug, and he gave her a hug – she growled.


A love pure and uncomplicated in times of trouble. A sad story, but at the end a story of sacrifice. “A love that is pure,” I told my little boy. “The dog willing to sacrifice his life for his master. Not anonymous sacrifices demanded by mobs which are unnatural, but the perfect closed circle a response to belonging in the best way, the belonging of family.” He understood that, and that I was talking of course about our family. And he slept well and deep, clutching his own stuffed animal dog.


About Joel D. Hirst

Joel D. Hirst is a novelist and a playwright. His most recently released work is "Dreams of the Defeated: A Play in Two Acts" about a political prisoner in a dystopian regime. His novels include "I, Charles, From the Camps" about the life of a young man in the African camps and "Lords of Misrule" about the making and unmaking of a jihadist in the Sahara. "The Lieutenant of San Porfirio" and its sequel "The Burning of San Porfirio" are about the rise and fall of socialist Venezuela (with magic).
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