“Old Yeller” is mostly for the older youngsters. In it Walt Disney’s latest “live” hero is an “ugly lop-eared mongrel,” played by a dog named Spike, and right at the start he moves in on Texas-settler Fess Parker; his wife, Dorothy McGuire; and their two young sons, Tommy Kirk and Kevin Corcoran. When Old Yeller, chasing a jack rabbit, wrecks a row of fences, Tommy chases the pooch away.
But Old Yeller returns to (1) save Kevin from an angry mother bear, (2) rout raccoons from the corn, (3) round up stray cows and stop a charging one, (4) save Tommy from wild hogs, and (5) fight off a wolf. Hydrophobia finally lays Old Yeller low, but by now there is a Young Yeller.