Madison: “Have you ever heard the story about the dog”
Me: “No…what is it?”
Madison: “So there was this woman that, uh, was blind and deaf and lived alone but she had a dog that would help her do things… like a service dog. They like had a great system going and the biggest part of their relationship was that she really depended on him for her comfort and safety in her way of life. If she felt uncomfortable and needed assurance she would stick her hand out and the dog would lick once if everything was okay and twice if there was something wrong. Actually… think she was just blind and not deaf, or maybe she was? I don’t know…but it’s okay. So one night, she went to sleep and she put her hand out like she did every night to make sure everything was good and the dog licked once. She woke up in the middle of the night because she felt movement so she stuck her hand out and the dog licked her once again so she thought everything was okay. However, the next morning when the dog didn’t retrieve the paper form the mailman she thought something was wrong because that was something he did every morning—which is funny now that I think about it because why would she need a paper. So anyways…we’re getting to the good part…she called the cops and they went to her apartment and she and the dog had been brutally murdered. On the wall in her blood wrote ‘humans can lick too.’”
Background: Madison is a twenty-year old female born and raised in Malibu, CA. She is currently a sophomore at USC.
Context: Madison is my roommate, and she told me this story one night while we were doing homework in our living room. Somehow, the topic of scary stories came up and she shared that one.
Analysis: Scary stories were a big part of my childhood and were always brought up at sleepovers and camps during my middle school years. I liked to believe they didn’t ever affect me, although the truly scary ones really did; I find the ability of scary stories to affect people emotionally really interesting since we typically don’t have any sort of legitimate evidence that the story is at all true. I’ve grown up with Madison, so hearing her share a scary story now that we’re older immediately brought me back to the sleepovers we had as kids and the scary stories everyone used to tell. It is an intriguing cultural characteristic to analyze that we enjoy hearing and sharing scary stories, and I am curious to investigate when this specific element of folklore began and how it manifests in different cultures around the world.