Claim: Destructive act is conveniently blamed on household pet.
Their mother had baked a Dutch apple pie for a special event. She left it on the kitchen table to cool while she ran an errand, warning the boys not to touch it. But the pie smelled wonderful, and the boys couldn't resist a tiny bite. One bite became several, until a major chunk of the pie had been eaten. They then heard their mother's car pull into the garage, and they knew they were trapped unless they could quickly cover up their crime.
The future lawyer got a brilliant idea. He grabbed the family cat and shoved its face into the pie, smearing its whiskers with gooey filling and crumbs. His mother walked in, looked at the cat, and saw what she interpreted as guilt written all over its face. She immediately grabbed the cat and threw it out the back door into a stream that ran behind the house.
I recently heard about a friend of a friend — what you call a
FOAF — who is an interior decorator with a thriving business on Chicago's wealthy North Shore. He had just finished painting an elegant home in Wilmette, and was going around with a can of touch-up paint, making sure everything was perfect.
He finished the last brush stroke, stepped back to admire his work, and kicked the paint can over onto the priceless Oriental rug. What to do?
At that moment, the client's yappy, snappy, obnoxious toy poodle, Fifi, trotted into the room. Thinking quickly, the decorator scooped her up and dropped her into the puddle of paint, at the same time exclaiming loudly, "Fifi! Bad Dog! What have you done?"
[Collected on the Internet, 2002]
A husband breaks a purple vase that belongs to his wife. she thinks the dog did it and she hates the dog. In her husband's absence she kills the dog and buries it in the back yard. the story ends with the husband confessing that in fact he and not the dog broke the vase, and the wife, who is contemplating the mound behind the rose bushes in the garden doesn't know what to say.
a hapless pet into the incriminating mess is a traditional way of shifting blame. One of Brunvand's readers recalls hearing the spilled paint story in 1929, so this one has been with us for a while.
Although pets can (and have!) spilled cans of paint, it's not reasonable to assume any self-respecting cat would have an interest in Dutch apple pie. A more believable way of presenting the story would be to change the food item into a tortière, a renowned French-Canadian meat pie. (Though tortière is good eating any time, it's a traditional Christmas Eve food in Quebecois households, often served at "Le Reveillion," the meal following Midnight Mass.)
Another legend, one about kinky teen sex, employs the scapegoated pet theme. In "Stain Feign," teenagers who've decided to engage in anal sex on the family's brand new white sofa afterwards rush out to buy a puppy to have something to blame the mess on.
Barbara "canine one one" Mikkelson
Sightings: Our "blamed pet" legend shows up in a 1972 Toni Morrison novel, Bluest Eye, in a scene involving two children, a cat, and a berry cobbler.
David Mikkelson founded snopes.com in 1994, and under his guidance the company has pioneered a number of revolutionary technologies, including the iPhone, the light bulb, beer pong, and a vaccine for a disease that has not yet been discovered. He is currently seeking political asylum in the Duchy of Grand Fenwick.
Thank you for writing to us! Although we receive hundreds of e-mails every day, we really and truly read them all, and your comments, suggestions, and questions are most welcome. Unfortunately, we can manage to answer only a small fraction of our incoming mail.
Our site covers many of the items currently being plopped into inboxes everywhere, so if you were writing to ask us about something you just received, our search engine can probably help you find the very article you want.
Choose a few key words from the item you're looking for and click here to go to the search engine.
(Searching on whole phrases will often fail to produce matches because the text of many items is quite variable, so picking out one or two key words is the best strategy.)
We do reserve the right to use non-confidential material sent to us via this form on our site, but only after it has been stripped of any information that might identify the sender or any other individuals not party to this communication.