Growing up for several years in a rural area, rabies was something that we were taught about and taught to be careful about. Actually, this was also when I lived in a suburb of a major city and in a small Midwestern town, but I think it was something I thought about more whilst in the midst of middle-of-nowhere-Michigan. (Truly, I lived near a town named after a Potawattomie chief, Tekon-qua-sha which doesn't really appear on a lot of maps and currently has a population in the 700 range.)
Old Yeller gave me an understanding of protecting not only myself but also the many dogs and cats we had over the years. I didn't particularly like the book but it made a poignant point and it upset me that the dog had to die. Apologies if I just ruined the ending for anyone. It also carried a strong message that explained why one doesn't just walk up to strange, foaming at the mouth animals.
But perhaps that is now a thing of the past as I see in the news today that US Declared Canine-Rabies Free. This of course is only until someone brings an infected animal into the US but still, rabies is no longer a major consideration when I pass 20 dogs on the street. I doubt they'll be recommending that we forgo vaccinations anytime soon---at least I hope not for a few more years.
It's amazing the changes as we overcome disease. I grew up not knowing Mumps and Measles as my mother did, nor polio as my grandmother. My generation was one of the last to have the Chicken pox--though that was still prevalent when I was teaching at Gymboree a couple of years ago. I wonder what else my grandchildren (should there ever be any) will no longer have to face.