The Licked Hand

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The Licked Hand, known sometimes as The Doggy Lick,[1] is an urban legend popular among teenagers. Like many urban legends, it has several versions. The original version, called "Bedtime for Sam", was written and published by author David Brown (D.B. Martin) in the early 1980s.


A young girl is home alone for the first time with only her dog for company. Listening to the news, she hears of a killer (or mental patient) on the loose. Terrified, she locks all the doors and windows and goes to bed, taking her dog to her room with her and letting it sleep under her bed. She wakes in the night to hear a dripping sound coming from the bathroom. The dripping noise frightens her, but she is too scared to get out of bed and find out what it is. To reassure herself, she reaches a hand toward the floor for the dog and is rewarded by a reassuring lick on her hand. She lies awake listening to the dripping sound. Each time she feels frightened, she reaches for the dog on the floor and feels a lick on her hand. Eventually she falls asleep. The next morning when she wakes, she goes to the bathroom for a drink of water only to find her dead, mutilated dog hanging in the shower with his blood slowly dripping onto the tiles. On the shower wall, written in the dog's blood, are the words "HUMANS CAN LICK, TOO."

Other story variations feature a nearsighted old woman rather than a young girl. The fate of the dog also varies, from the dog simply being hanged to it being skinned, disemboweled, or otherwise mutilated. The message is sometimes written on the floor or on the bathroom mirror rather than on the wall. Some versions include the parents' return and their discovery of the killer hiding elsewhere in the house, frequently the basement, the girl's bedroom closet, or under her bed.


  • There is a forerunner in the 1919 story "The Diary of Mr. Poynter" by M. R. James, where a young man absently strokes his dog (as he thinks) while reading an old manuscript account of the sinister death of a young student obsessed with his own hair. Of course, the creature crouching at his side is not the dog.
  • The first published example of this story is found in 1983 in a story entitled "Bedtime for Sam" by horror author David M. Brown.
  • This legend was featured in the film Campfire Tales.
  • In an episode of Showtime's series The L Word, Alice tells a version of the story with her friends as they sit around a campfire.
  • The episode "Bedsit" from A Scare at Bedtime.
  • A variation of the story is featured in the film Urban Legends: Final Cut.
  • A version of the story is featured in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.
  • The episode "Family Remains" of Supernatural features an alteration on this story in which a feral child licks the hand of a teenage girl who panics when she realizes that her dog is in the hallway. In this version she sees the dog alive and realizes it's not the pet licking her, although the dog is mutilated when the show's heroes attempt to help the family escape.
  • The legend is also used by Bloody Mary in the follow-up to Urban Legends Final Cut, entitled Urban Legends: Bloody Mary, as a way to murder one of the high school boys that she sees as guilty for her death.
  • The legend is referenced in John Dies at the End, where the main character goes to bed (intending to lure out a ghost) and wakes up to find his dog still licking his hand, until he realizes he can hear his dog lapping water from the toilet next door.
  • The story is partially told by Francis Boulle on a camping trip in an episode of Made in Chelsea (Series 6, Episode 4).
  • A variation of this story is told by one of the main characters in the premiere episode of The Enfield Haunting.
  • A variation of this story is written as the backstory for the character Reimi Sugimoto from Jump manga JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Part 4, Diamond Is Unbreakable by Hirohiko Araki.



  1. ^ Brunvand, Jan Harold (2001). Encyclopedia of Urban Legends. ABC-CLIO. p. 240. ISBN 1-57607-076-X. 


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