In Memory of Old Yeller- 199?-2007

He was old and his sweet muzzle was white, but we weren’t really ready to say good-bye. But as we prepared to tuck in for the night last evening, I realized that I hadn’t seen Old Yeller for a good part of the day. He usually divided his time between indoors and out, but he loved the deck on a cool, sunny day. We stepped outside to search, and there he was, lying on the brick walkway, as if asleep.

I’ll miss seeing him trot down the path toward the creek, tail waving. I’ll miss his excited puppy dance when he comes in feeling particularly frisky (as he sometimes still did). I’ll miss his diplomatic skills with visiting dogs– he’d greet them with waving tail, and escort them around the yard, as if showing them the sights. I’ll miss seeing him bestow sloppy kisses across the cat’s faces. I’ll probably even miss the occasions when we all exclaimed, “Old Yeller! What have you been rolling in?”

During the past year, he’s lost sight in one eye, so there were funny moments when he’d run in to lay on the cushion beside the woodstove without noticing that it was already occupied. He’d flop down, and usually roll over on his back to wiggle around, while the cat or dog that had been dozing there struggled out from under him. He was such a good-natured old boy that no one could be crabby to him, so they forgave him quickly, and would sometimes even snuggle back beside him.

There’s always a poem, as poets lose their beloved friends, as we all do. Two poems in particular seem fitting–

Four Feet
Rudyard Kipling

I have done mostly what men do,
And pushed it out of my mind;
But I can’t forget, if I wanted to,
Four-Feet trotting behind.

Day after day, the whole day through–
Wherever my road inclined–
Four-Feet said, ‘I am coming with you!’
And trotted along behind.

Now I must go by some other round–
Which I shall never find–
Some where that does not carry the sound
Of Four-Feet trotting behind.

Epitaph to a Dog
George Gordon, Lord Byron

Near this spot
Are deposited the Remains
Of one Who Possessed Beauty
Without Vanity,
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferocity,
And all the Virtues of Man
Without his Vices.
This Praise, which would be unmeaning
flattery If inscribed over Human Ashes,
Is but a just tribute to the
Memory of “Boatswain,” a Dog
Who was born at Newfoundland,
May, 1803,
And died at Newstead Abbey
Nov. 18, 1808.

Requiescat in pace, Old Yeller. You were the best of dogs.

5 Responses

  1. Sandy says:

    I’m so sorry. What a beautiful and loving tribute to your friend.

  2. Penni Hill says:


    So sorry for your loss. Our pets do become “members” of our families and we love them and miss them much when they are gone.
    He sounds like he was a wonderful dog.

    God bless,

  3. Donna Scott says:

    Oh Janice, I am so sorry for your loss. But, you gave such a beautiful tribute to him. I enjoyed it. It made me think of my dogs. My dog Buddy is old and has arthritis in his hips. I know it wont be long for him either. Makes me sad, but reading your post makes me think of all the happy times we have shared. Dwell on those sweet memories friend. How are the kids taking it? I will keep you and your family in prayer.

    Donna Scott

  4. Thank you all so much– it’s been hard, but we know our ‘Virginia Gentleman’ is at rest.
    We buried him yesterday by the path to the creek. The boys brought up a big rock from the creek bank, and I picked wildflowers- buttercups, a little blue flower, fern, and tulips from the tall tulip poplars overhead. It’s a place he loved, and being able to have him there makes it a little bit better. We have so many good memories!

  5. Becky says:

    Sorry to hear about the loss of Old Yeller, Janice. It is hard to lose a sweet, special friend like this. Love “Epitaph to a Dog.” What a fitting and lovely tribute. Blessings, Becky

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