Folk Beliefs
Tales /märchen

The Dog at the Gate

“It came to my mind, one of those legends, It was more, more like, kind of warning from our parents not to do something. But, uhh, in a way, the kind of worked out. The, the way they did it is the following.

 

They told us that curfew time for us was between 10:00 and 10:30 p.m. every day. No exceptions. Uhh… When you were under 16 years old, that was an uhh, unwritten rule. So… uhh… They said that, uhh, instead of punishing us for not coming on time home from wherever we were, they came up with this little legend.

 

It was told to their parents, it was told to them by their parents also, so they scared the heck out of us. They said, when you were walking on these little trails next to the trees, next to the river, invariably you had to cross one of these stone fences. That’s the properties, that was always a little gate. Or sometimes it was just open there, the, the, the rocks were removed from that stone gate, that stone fence, and uhh… people had to walk through those, uhh, those openings no matter what.

 

They said, you were coming after 10:30, between 10:30 and 12:00, it was going to be really dangerous because there was going to be a big, ferocious black dog with red eyes guarding that, uhh, specific opening on the fence. And you wouldn’t be able to cross. And the only way would be to just go back to where you came from, you have to gather at least another 3 people to go with you, otherwise you would find the dog every single time there.

 

Of course we never saw the dog! [laughs] But we got home on time every single time! We were never late, because we never wanted to see that dog! [laughs]

 

So, that was a thing that scared the heck out of us for years and years. Now, when we became adults, you know, we knew it was just a little hoax, it was a little old saying, you know, but… but it worked!”

 

Analysis: Like many tales, this one seemed to be told with the purpose of instilling obedience in children. The informant made it clear that the telling of the story was so scary that it inspired him, even as a young adult, to never break curfew out of fear of consequences – not from his parents, but from the uncontrollable force of the guard dog. It should also be noted that the guard dog would not attack if the individual was in a large enough group, implying that social functions were acceptable late-night activities, but lonesome wandering (or, possibly, philandering) were not.

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