Tag Archives: dog

Larry and the Dog

Larry and the Dog

informant: Okay so there was this guy and his dog and they were out in the middle of the woods with this house that they were going to redo for his own personal use. Anyways . . . so he decided to just move into the house so he didn’t have to go back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And then at about 2 a.m the dog starts like freaking out. . . oh his name is Larry. Anyways so [a voice] is like,

“Laaaaaaary, I can see you” and Larry’s like,

“whhhhhhaaaaaat?????”. And he was all freaked out and then the voice was like, “Larry, I’m 10 feet away” and then it disappeared. And then the next night, at the exact same time, the dog started like freaking out and the voice was like,

“Laaarry, I’m on your porch”.  And then the next night the dog flipped out again at the same time and was like,

“Laaaaaarrry, I’m outside your bedroom door”. And then the next night, the dog didn’t bark, so he opened his bedroom door and there was the dog . . . . DEAD. And then he heard a voice that said,

“Larry, I’m behind you” and then he turned around and then he died.

Interviewer: Where did you hear this story?

Informant: My friend told it to me at school

Interviewer: Do you know where she heard the story?

Informant: I have no idea

Interviewer: Who do you typically tell the story to?

Informant: I haven’t told the story since like, 5th grade

  Interviewer’s notes:

The informant’s tale is in accordance with Olrik’s Epic Laws of Folk Narrative, specifically and prominently, the law of repetition. The repetition effectively divides the story into discernible narrative parts and the builds suspense for the audience, which is especially important as the story was told orally. Also the age of the informants when she first heard the tale is possibly significant. The informant, in fifth grade, was on the cusp of puberty, as children are trying the sort out childhood fears and anxieties with that of adult expectations. Stories like this bring fears to the forefront so that they may be expelled by the time the children reach adulthood.

Scary story

“When I was in Elementary school there was this weird scary story, well it scared me to death at the time. This one girl, Samantha told me her babysitter told it to her.

This one girls parents left her home for a night, home alone and when the girl went to bed she felt her dog licking her hand and then heard dripping in the bathroom. Um and then she went into the bathroom and saw that her dog was dead in the bathroom with blood dripping. That was the dripping. And then she went back to her room and there was a man in there that killed her.

Samantha told everybody in our class this story, at least all the girls. She was a few years older than us so she seemed really cool and we believed her. ”

So about how old were you?
“I would say like second grade so seven or eight.”

For how long did this story scary you?

“It scared me for awhile. I would say, I asked my mom about the story and she said she had heard it too. So i stopped being so scared by it because I realized it was fake. But now I don’t know if she said that because it was true or she was just trying to make me feel better.”

Did it change any of your behavior, after hearing it?

“Not really. It just made me more cautious at night. I didn’t want to walk my house at night by myself. But I got over that.”

So this story wasn’t popular amongst the boys?

“No, it was definitely just the girls.”

 

The informant has provided a cautionary tale warning against children being (left) home alone. It is interesting that the informant noted that the story was directed towards the girls and not boys, even before I inquired again about it. The story warns against young females about being alone and not young boys. It could be said that females are more physically vulnerable than males. Also, girls especially young ones are more often victims of abuse and assault than their male counterparts. I also found it interesting that there is no implications that the girl in the story put herself in the position of being home alone so she is not directly responsible for the repercussions. I’m assuming since the original source of this story was a babysitter, her intention was to reinforce the important of her presence while the girls parents were away. Most elementary school kids perceive themselves to be older than they are and without need of adult supervision so this tale serves as a violent reminder that they still need to be taken care of and protected.

The Killing Doll

The Killing Doll

The Informant:

My friend, was born in South Korea. She came the States at a young age, before beginning elementary school. She told this story near a campfire that my friends and I held before spring break.

The Story:

I heard this when I was in elementary school, in the third grade I think. A family friend told me this story, she was a couple years older, in middle school as I recall.

“When I was younger, my family was taking care of a friend’s dog. A day before the dog came, my sister and I visited a garage sale down the street. My sister decided to purchase a doll. It looked like a regular doll except for the fact that it had four fingers straight and the thumb was curled toward the palm. We didn’t think much of the strange hands and brought the doll back home. The next day my whole family decided to go out and locked the dog in the room, and it happened to be in the room with the doll, so that it would not tear up the house. When the entire family came back the dog wasn’t breathing so we took him to the vet and it was pronounced dead. It was only later when we came back home that we realized the doll only had three fingers outstretched.

We had a weird feeling about the doll so the next day we decided to return it.”

The Analysis:

I questioned her about this story because I personally heard a similar one in my childhood. The story centers on the strange doll and implies that it somehow kills a living force a night after someone or something is spent in the same room as it. How the death occurs remains unknown.

Taking Care of Tirebiter

Item:

“I always feel obligated to pet Tirebiter when I walk by. Depending on my mood, I’ll even go a bit out of my way to do it.”

Members of the Trojan Knights at USC (a fraternity dedicated to the spirit of USC and its history) are required to pet the statue of Tirebiter, a dog, whenever they walk by it. The statue is located near the edge of campus, but nonetheless is passed enough for this to be a somewhat regular occurrence. The tradition began because of an actual dog by the name of Tirebiter. The unconfirmed origin story is that a Trojan Knight, about 70 years ago, was on a Los Angeles beach and came across a stray dog. He took it under his care and brought it back to the fraternity’s house. It was taken care of by the group and brought to football games. It eventually became the unofficial mascot of the fraternity, and subsequently for USC given the fraternity’s close association to the school. Because Tirebiter – and his many replacements – have since passed, it’s the responsibility of the Knights to “take care of Tirebiter” by petting the statue. It serves as both a memorial for the original Tirebiter and an homage to part of the fraternity’s history.

 

Context:

The informant shared the tradition and says it’s something almost exclusively done by the Knights. It’s not bad luck to not do it, or good luck to do it — it’s simply a part of their history and a courtesy paid to the memorial of Tirebiter. How the action of petting Tirebiter emerged is unclear, but the reason behind it is passed down between the brothers.

 

Analysis:

It’s sort of nice to see a school tradition that doesn’t have to do with winning at sports, insulting another school, or going crazy in the name of graduating. Paying homage to a dog the fraternity once took care of is nice. Something funny mentioned by the informant is that bringing a dog to a football game is a standard long gone. The most interesting part of this piece of folklore is that the school adopted a third mascot out of it, and made a rather nice statue out of it. There’s already Tommy Trojan and Traveler — adding a dog seems a bit overkill.

Petting a wet dog = death by car accident

“I don’t understand this one at all: my grandmother always used to say that if you pet a wet dog, you’d get hit by a car. I genuinely do not understand where she got an idea that stupid. But she told it to my dad and all of her children.”

The informant’s grandmother, who received no formal education, was born, lived, and died in Irapuarto, Mexico. The informant is generally mistrusting of all things he has learned from his grandmother, as he refers to most folk belief as “batshit.” Such beliefs hold no weight to him and serve only to be laughed at.

Haunted House with German Shepherd

The informant explains that as a young girl growing up in Fullerton, California there was a house near her home that all the neighborhood kids believed to be haunted.  She recalls that the house was always had extremely overgrown, wild grass on the front lawn and was also completely dark.  All the neighborhood kids were afraid of the house because the owners were believed to be extremely scary and low-life’s, but more frighteningly owned a ferocious German shepherd.  There was a legend of the German shepherd once being able jump over the fence and bite a young girl who was simply passing by the house.  This story enhanced the fear of the house tenfold and made one wonder and create stories about the power of the German shepherd in that house.

The informant’s story of the haunted house is interesting as is displays children’s fascination with scary stories and ability to embellish stories.  In all likelihood the owners of the house were rather normal people with a German shepherd with normal strength and abilities, but the fascination of the story leaves children intrigued and curious.

Lad Stories

The informant remembers stories that her grandfather used to tell about a dog named Lad.  One of the stories she remembers vaguely is:

“There were these robbers trying to rob a house. Lad… the mister and mistress were sleeping in bed, and the kids were tucked away safetly in bed.  Lad was out on his nightly rounds, protecting the house. He heard something weird and saw a strange man approaching house.  He was not any normal man.  [Lad] basically starts to bite the man, and they have a struggle.  He wards off the man, but Lad is beat up at the end.  He is okay though, and he survives.”

The informant believes that this story in particular shows the values of upholding family and sacrificing for honor of the pack.  She also added that it was “more dramatic when grandpa told it.”

The informant remembers hearing the tales.  “He would always tell it when the grandkids were over. Everybody was lying on the floor.”  She said that the grandsons specifically would call for the “Lad stories.”  Her grandfather would talk to the younger kids, and it was very special for them, the way he told the story.  “We were present and cared about Lad.  He was always on the side of justice.  My grandpa cares about that a lot.  [Lad] had a kindness and fun for kids.”  The informant believes that the character of Lad represented her grandfather, always sticking up for the kids and being a teacher.

She would like to tell the stories one day to her kids. She thinks that the stories are good because they are a common ground for the children.  It is a common way to share values.  The informant seemed happy to recall these stories and the other things that her grandfather used to share with the family such as army songs.  Lad stories were a way for him to teach them and instill his beliefs in a fun way, and they seem to have worked because the stories still stick with her today.

Car Game – Zitch Dog

Basically, the point of the game is if you see a dog, you have to be the first person to say, “Zitch Dog!” and then you get a point. Person with the highest score by the end of the car ride gets free dinner.

My informant brought up this game during a long car ride with me and a couple other friends.  He told me that he learned of this game when he was taking a road trip with some of his other friends.  Although, the last time he played, the person with the lowest score would have to pay for everybody’s dinner.

I decided to research the origins of Zitch Dog and found that it came from an episode of “How I Met Your Mother.”  As an avid fan of the television show “How I Met Your Mother,” I had seen the episode before but had assumed that it was already an established game.  I was surprised to find that the writers of the show had invented it.  The one main difference between the TV show version and my informant’s version is that in the show, there is no real prize for the winner, only bragging rights.  When I asked my friend if he was aware that it came from the show, his response was that he had never even heard of the show before.  While folklore has had a big influence over published media, this case is an excellent example of media creating and affecting folklore.

Annotations:
Harris, Chris. “Arrivederci, Fiero.” How I Met Your Mother. Dir. Pamela Fryman. CBS. 26 Feb. 20007. Television.

When a dog eats grass, it’s going to rain

My source grew up on a farm in northeast Nebraska and recalls learning this indicator when he was 7 or 8 years old.  His grandmother owned three dogs during his childhood, and one day he saw them all eating grass at the same time.  He found this odd, so he asked his grandmother if she forgot to feed the dogs.  She hadn’t, and explained to him that when dogs eat grass, it’s an indication that it will rain soon.  Sure enough, it rained later that day. Afterwards, most of the time he saw the dogs eating grass, rain quickly followed.

It is not out of the ordinary for a dog to eat grass, and it is actually typical if a dog has an upset stomach.  But then again, a coming rain is not likely to make a dog sick.  My informant suggested that there might be an atmospheric change that occurs before a rainstorm that might make dogs believe they have a symptom of an upset stomach, so then they would decide to eat grass.  There is no proof to support this explanation, but it makes sense to my informant considering the likelihood of rain after he saw his dogs eating grass.

However, there were several times that he would see the dogs eating grass and it wouldn’t rain.  In these cases, either the dogs were sick or it was a dry season.  This supports another folk superstition that his grandmother once told my informant.  She would say, “In a dry spell, all signs fail.” My informant’s grandmother knew many folk superstitions, and she would tell them to the family when appropriate.  No one else in the family desired to memorize them all as she had done, but they would remember the ones that she had told them over and over, and they shared those between each other.  These superstitions were likely shared in the same way by many other families.  This particular superstition is likely to be shared mostly by farmers because their occupation and livelihood is dependent on weather patterns, so if there is any way farmers can make use of a weather indicator, they certainly will.

 

Annotation: This particular folk superstition can be found in John Frederick Doering’s article: “Some Western Ontario Folk Beliefs and Practices” in The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 51, No. 199 (Jan. – Mar., 1938), pp. 61