Do they get any sadder than this story? It's the story of a family, trying to survive in the wilds of 1870 Texas while the head-of-the-household is off herding cattle, who takes up with an old ugly mutt. The older son, Travis, is trying to protect his mother and little brother from wild bulls and boar coons and bears and sickness and hunger. In the process the family comes to love an old good-for-nothing dog. (And you know what happens....I'm not giving anything away, right?) The death of Old Yeller has to be one of the most painful scenes in childhood literature.