Welcome to Old Yeller's Rainbow Bridge Memorial Residency
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Memories of Old Yeller
Where do I begin to tell you about what a great dog our Old Yeller was? It's so hard. She was our one-in-a-million dog. I'm her mama and I'll try to tell you a little about her.

Old Yeller came into our lives on my birthday, April 16, 2000. She had been abandoned.They say she had been wandering around our farm for a week before she finally showed up on my back porch. She was half starved. But she was still the most beautiful dog I'd ever seen. Surely this was someone's pet! But after checking around, I saw she had no one and must have been meant for me.

What is really amazing is that the night before, the movie "Old Yeller" was on TV.
So I guess the good Lord was preparing our hearts for Yeller.
There was no question we were going to keep her.

Yeller was about 6 months old then, and must have been surviving on killing and eating moles, a pasttime that she relished right up to the very end. (She didn't have to eat them now to survive.)

The good Lord sure knew what He was doing when He sent me Yeller. I was newly married to a wonderful man, a legend in the world of Bluegrass music: Jesse McReynolds. Me being a northerner in the south made making friends difficult. I needed a friend, and boy did I get one. We were inseparable for the next 14 years. I'd had some nice dogs in the past, but this relationship was truly special. She was my dog. She chose me. I never experienced such loyalty. Her eyes were always on me.

Don't get me wrong. Jesse loved Old Yeller and she loved him. She followed him around in all his doings around our farm. Yeller was very handy at killing snakes. They didn't stand a chance with our girl around. As time went on, I didn't let her do that because I was afraid she'd get hurt. One time we were walking by the lake & she stuck her nose in a pile of leaves. I yanked her away. Good thing. There was a little copperhead snake in there! And forget about mice. She was such a good "mouser!" I'd put her up against a cat any day.

Yeller had a little beagle friend, Bridgette. Bridgette was already here with us, having been rescued by our niece and fellow ardent dog lover, Janeen McReynolds. Yeller and old Bridgette were inseparable. Best buddies. The only consolation I have now is knowing she is with her best buddy. Yeller always protected old Bridgette. Nobody knew how old Bridgette was. We nicknamed her "Methusaleh" and she was just a sweet old thing. Pretty near blind, and toothless... but she just stuck by her buddy, Yeller. Yeller really missed her when she passed away. After that, every time we saw a dog who looked like Bridgette, she wanted to go kiss them.

Since Jesse played so many shows on the road, we bought a van with a couch in back so I could travel with her. The couch was for Yeller. :) One trip we drove to Mississippi... A 9 hour ride. She was such good company. Just a darling companion.

She was kind of scrawny and splay footed when I found her. She grew into the most beautiful dog! People would stop me to tell me how pretty she was. She was even prettier inside. And smart!

One time Jesse lost his wallet while he was out mowing our farm on his big tractor. He walked for days looking for that wallet in the fresh mown grass. No luck. I suggested we give Yeller an old wallet to sniff and see if she'd be able to find it. It was laughable, I guess, but we were desperate. I don't think it was a coincidence that Yeller took a short walk and sat down right in front of that wallet! She entered our "Doggy Hall of Fame" on that alone!

Yeller was also very talented. We discovered she had a talent for singing. Jesse was practicing his mandolin one day when Yeller spotted me out in the yard and began to howl. So Jesse developed her "singing" abilities ...so well, to the point that she was invited to sing on the world-famous Grand Ole Opry! The management of the Grand Ole Opry (Pete Fisher, Gina Keltner & Steve Buchanan) were so kind to let Old Yeller sing with Jesse on the Grand Ole Opry stage on 2 separate occasions for Petsitters "Take Your Dog to Work Day." Thank you, Grand Ole Opry, for such a big thrill. I got to walk Yeller onstage, along with my dear friend, Ida Whitstine. Yeller loved Ida. Aunt Ida could really get Yeller singing. And the Grand Ole Opry crowd just enveloped Yeller with LOVE. You could feel it. Just an amazing experience I will never forget.

Yeller also had an amazing persistence. She had such patience when hunting moles. She would stand by that mole tunnel for hours, just waiting for the earth to move, and then she'd pounce! She rarely missed. I was thinking of putting her in the yellow pages under mole removal! And there was her gentle insistence when she wanted to go outside. It was her nose to my knee, walk to the door, and repeat. It might take her 10-20 times before I caught on. And you never wanted to get into a staring contest with her. She had a "tractor beam" gaze. She'd almost seem to stare right into your soul.

She was pretty healthy her whole life. But over the last few years she developed a benign fatty tumor on her rib cage. It would fill with fluid and need to be drained every year or so. She was also deaf but understood my hand signals. But I could tell what she was thinking /needing by looking at her.

She really wasn't my "baby." She was more like a mama to me. If I were up late, working, she'd come & get me. Time for bed. And then never leave my side.

Eventually that fatty tumor came to a head and I took her to the vet, where he found another tumor, but that this one was malignant. Yeller was 15, and it was discussed among family members and the consensus was that it was time to let her go. It seemed like the right decision. I wanted the best for her. We all did. But her passing was anything but peaceful. The reason I tell this story is I would never want another pet owner to go through the agony I experienced with my beautiful, devoted friend. It seemed like a good idea, and you have this fairy tale dream that your beloved pet will just peacefully drift off to sleep... but my girl went through such agony that it will haunt me the rest of my days. How I wish I had brought her home and cherished every single moment I had left with her.

Now I am NOT an advocate of pet euthanasia unless it is under the direst of circumstances... and will never again put one of my pets "to sleep" without examining every other possible option... never, ever again in my life. I can't begin to tell you how sickened I am over the whole tortuous experience. Dear God I hope my story helps someone else avoid this heartache.

And I hope & pray you forgive me, Old Yeller. I let you down.
But knowing you: such a pure, sweet, loving soul - you would wag your tail & shower me with undeserved kisses if you saw me. I pray for that day.

It sure is empty in the house without you now. I will never, ever forget you girl.

I love you.
ps: I still feel your nose on my knee.

5/21/14 ~ Tomorrow it will be a week you'll be gone. I miss you so much!
You would have gotten a thrill yesterday. A baby gopher came up in our yard and I walked up to it and the poor little thing had ticks all over its eyes. It was sort of a baby. So I spoke gently to it and it came up to me. It let me take all the ticks off its eyes, then I saw it was OK, so I took her up to the barn where there's lots of clover. She was so pretty I named her"Greta Garbo." So our "Miss G" is safe & happy at the barn. It was such a thrill to hold & pet a gopher, one of God's creatures too. But it would have been nicer holding & petting you, girl. I sure miss you. I will never forget you. ~ mama

I wrote a poem for you. I don't even remember writing it, I was so grief-stricken. But I just happened upon it and here it is:
"My Angel, Old Yeller"

God knows we all need
A friend in whom we can believe
But sometimes he sends us
Canine friends.

He sent me a dog named Yeller
And she wasn't a feller.
She was the prettiest thing
Her gaze would make your heart sing.

She was a cast off dog
Wandering in the fog-
But she was a priceless treasure to me
With golden fur and brown eyes so sparkly.

Her eyes were trained on me
Her being like a mama to me.
God sweetly gave me His best
But now she's gone to her rest.

I cried and cried
Then opened my eyes -
For God gave me an angel
And for that I am forever grateful.

Old Yeller I can see
How you loved me.
You're always with me in dreams -
One day my dream will never end.

By Joy McR.

6/2/14 ~ Your ashes came today. I hugged that box so tight!! I feel better with you here with me in some form. I know the good Lord will put us all back together in the blink of an eye before we know it. What a great & joyous day that will be, my dear heart.
I talked to our vet today. He feels very badly you suffered. He was nice to post your picture and tribute here at the RAINBOW BRIDGE so all the other pet owners could read about you. Maybe your experience will help someone. The Bible says all suffering is redemptive. There was a reason, old girl. I'm still so sorry you were the one, but you were always the bravest one. God knew that. I'm so proud of you.

I didn't realize I was going past the speed limit on the way to the vet. I was late and pretty distraught. But the very kind police officer gave me a warning. I needed that blessing. God is good. Thank you, Dear God. We only see a little way ("through the glass, darkly"), but You see the BIG PICTURE.

6/6/14 ~ I've been reading about St. Francis a lot lately. I hope & pray you will run & play a lot, & go sit by him until I get there. He really loves animals too & will watch out for you. I miss you. Love, mama

6/9/14 ~ I'm going to get a St. Francis statue to put by your picture. I was thinking of adopting a senior Labrador Retriever who has your kind eyes. It may be too soon. Maybe Daisy won't like him. We are praying about it. No dog will ever take your place. Never, ever. God bless you, girl - we love you & miss you terribly! Love forever, Mama

6/26/14 ~ Dear Old Yeller, I think of you every day. We miss you so much. We decided against adopting another dog for now. I'm so afraid I'll forget you, but I cry if I think of you too much. You never left my side in life, so I imagine you by my side even now. If ever a dog could do that, it would be you, old girl. I always wished for you to be happy and rewarded for all your faithfulness to me. Surely God has a special place in Heaven for you. I pray for that every day. No more being in pain. You can hop in and out of my van like you used to. We take long walks like we used to. You bark at rabbits and hunt moles. All in my dreams. And you're always with me in my dreams. Thank you. Love you always and forever, old girl. Mama

10/25/14 ~ We adopted a dog, Old Yeller. Her name is Dolly. She's a lot like you, but no dog could ever live up to you. But we love her and Daisy seems to like her too. She's a senior dog, being 6 years old. I almost feel like I'm seeing you young & healthy again, old girl. But no matter how many dogs we have, I'll never forget you. Love always, mama.

10/31/14 ~ Happy Halloween, Old Yeller! I'll miss dressing you up and you singing with Daddy. You put up with our silliness so sweetly & patiently. We love you & miss you, girl. Mama & Daddy

11/25/14 ~ Your birthday is coming up on Thanksgiving. We didn't know your real birthday, so Daddy picked Thanksgiving because he said you were such a blessing. Be thinking of you, girl. Love, mama

11/27/14 ~ Happy birthday sweetheart. I will give Daisy & Dolly an extra piece of turkey in memory of you.
Mama loves you & misses you terribly.

12/31/14~ Happy New Year's Eve, Old Yeller.
We made it through Christmas, and it was nice, but I missed you terribly. I always will. Love you forever, mama

3/25/15 ~ There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of you. Love, mama


In his weekly address at the Vatican late last month, Pope Francis issued a remarkable statement that's sure to come as welcome news to anyone who's ever lost a beloved pet. According to Francis, the promise of an afterlife applies not only to believers, but to all animals as well.

"The Holy Scriptures teach us that the realization of this wonderful plan covers all that is around us, and that came out of the thought and the heart of God," Pope Francis said, as quoted by Italian news site Resapubblica.

The Pope then went on to say that "heaven is open to all creatures, and there [they] will be vested with the joy and love of God, without limits."

Pope Francis's stance on animals stands in contrast to that of his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who despite reportedly being a cat lover, said that animals' existence was limited to their time on Earth. But Francis isn't the first pontiff to take an animal-friendly approach to ideology. As newspaper Divisione la Repubblica notes, Pope John Paul II held a similar position, saying animals had a "divine breath."

This isn't the first time that Francis, who adopted his papal name in honor of the patron saint of animals, St. Francis of Assisi, has spoken out on behalf of nonhumans. In his first homily as pope, Francis articulated mankind's role in serving not only the divine, but in all creatures born from it:

"The vocation of being a 'protector,' however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone. It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as St. Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God's creatures and respecting the environment in which we live."

May 15,2015 ~ it's been a year, old girl. I promise I'll never forget you. I think of you every day. Not too much because I can't. But I love you. And I miss you more than my inadequate words can ever say. Love, Mama

The Last Battle
If it should be that I grow frail and weak,
And pain should keep me from my sleep,
Then will you do what must be done,
For this, the last battle, can't be won.
You will be sad I understand,
But don't let grief then stay your hand,
For on this day, more than the rest,
Your love and friendship must stand the test.
We have had so many happy years,
You wouldn't want me to suffer so.
When the time comes, please, let me go.
Take me to where to my needs they'll tend,
Only, stay with me till the end
And hold me firm and speak to me,
Until my eyes no longer see.
I know in time you will agree,
It is a kindness you do to me.
Although my tail its last has waved,
From pain and suffering I have been saved.
Don't grieve that it must be you,
Who has to decide this thing to do;
We've been so close through out these years,
Don't let your heart hold any tears.
~ Author Unknown ~

Do not stand on my grave and weep; I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow. I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain. I am the gentle autumn's rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush, I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in the circled flight. I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry; I am not there. I did not die.
-Author Unknown -


From time to time, people tell me, "lighten up, it's just a dog," or "that's a lot of money for just a dog." They don't understand the distance traveled, the time spent, or the costs involved for "just a dog."

Some of my proudest moments have come about with "just a dog." Many hours have passed and my only company was "just a dog," but I did not once feel slighted.

Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by "just a dog," and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of "just a dog" gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.

If you, too, think it's "just a dog," then you will probably understand phrases like "just a friend," "just a sunrise," or "just a promise."

"Just a dog" brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure and unbridled joy.

"Just a dog" brings out the compassion and patience that makes me a better person.
Because of "just a dog," I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly to the future. So for me and folks like me, it's not "just a dog" but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment.

I hope that someday they can understand that it's not "just a dog," but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being "just a man." So the next time you hear the phrase "just a dog," just smile--because they "just don't understand."
~ Richard Biby ~

7/30/15 ~
Here's a beautiful tribute to a pit bull but it could be for all pets.
It's how I like to think of you, Old Yeller.

My little bully passed away, no more to breathe a sound.
I held him for the last time, then entombed him in the ground.
Day and night I wept so much, in tears I thought I'd drown.
I searched my soul for comfort, but no peace therein was found.
In great despair, I hit my knees and then began to pray.
"Father will I ever see, my dog again someday?"
I raised my eyes and saw an angel standing near a gate.
I sensed an inner peace I'd never felt before that day.
The angel smiled and said to me, "Oh man of little faith!
God sees every bird that falls; He knows your bully's fate.
I have met your little dog, I saw him pass my way.
Your precious dog is still alive; he just walked through this gate.
Paradise is lovelier than you can comprehend.
No pain or grief, no tears or fears, and life will have no end.
God gave to man His only Son, to cover all his sins.
So why would God withhold from you, your pure and loving friend?"
The angel took me by the hand and said, "Now come with me.
A glimpse of paradise I'll give, to you so you can see."
Through the gate and o'er the Rainbow Bridge we did proceed.
Through green valleys filled with flowers, rolling hills and trees.
"Wow, so this is paradise!" The place was filled with joy.
I saw my bully playing there, with dogs and cats and toys.
He also had some doggie treats, and food that he enjoyed.
He'd made a lot of new friends there, including girls and boys.
Then I saw a child come near, and hug my little mate.
She said to him, "I love you so," and kissed him on the face.
The angel said, "The child just crossed the Rainbow Bridge today.
Now she needs a little friend, to love and help her play.
God's love for her would be enough, in that make no mistake.
But in His love, He knew full well, the child would want a mate.
This is why God called your dog unto this splendid place.
God's entrusted her with him, 'til you pass through the gate."
I pleaded, "May I hug them both?!" The angel answered, "No!
You'd violate a sacred site, and now it's time to go."
He led me back across the Bridge and through the gate to home.
He left me there with new-found hope and peace within my soul.
If someone ever asks what happens to a dog that dies,
Just give a gentle smile of joy and look them in the eye.
Take their hand and comfort them and tell them not to cry.
For dogs don't die, they simply cross a bridge to paradise.
By Dan Atcheson (5/2/00)

January 5, 2016 ~ I think of you every day. Love you, old girl.

May 15, 2016 ~ I pray for you every day and light a candle for you. I'll never forget. Love always, mama ❤️

May 15, 2017 ~ I think of you & light a candle for you every day, old girl. Love, your mama ❤️❤️❤️

May 15, 2022 ~ I still think of you & light a candle for you every day. You're the best dog I ever had. Can't wait to see you again. Love, mama 🙏🏻♥️🐶♥️🙏🏻
May 15, 2023 ~ I miss you so much! You were one in a million gazillion. I will look for you in Heaven. I love you, Old girl. XXOOXX🙏🏻♥️🐶🕊✝️♥️🙏🏻

(((((\o/))))) << hugs for Old Yeller.

Prayer For Those Who Suffer
God of time and of eternity, in Your house there is room for all Your creatures. Shine forth upon those who are tried in the furnace of suffering and illness, and especially on those for whom I pray today; in Your grace and mercy may we know & comfort those who suffer from a great Loss.
Dear God, in Your heart there is room for all people & their beloved pets; in Your grace and mercy may we know that You watch over us. Please bring all of us at the last to abide with You in love; I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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