Lore and Legend of the Black Dog
Walking along a dark and lonely path one warm night, I saw a flash of lighting up ahead in the distance. It was then that I saw the dog. He was huge, at least as big as a calf. Standing a little to the left of me just off the path he simply stood and stared, big red eyes shone in the flash from another bolt of lighting. Some how I knew that this wasn't anything of this world, but I did not feel any malevolence in the dogs demeanor. Slowly the apparition faded from sight and was gone. Almost in a trance I continued on my way to my home.
Although the above story is fiction there have been hundreds perhaps even thousands of stories like it about strange encounters with black dogs dating from the Medieval times.
One thing that I need to make clear is that I am not talking about real flesh and blood dogs nor am I referring to apparitions of beloved pets. These black dogs appear to be some sort of apparition some even say they are demons.
So What are Black Dogs?
Black dogs have been around for a long time the term is used to refer to apparitions of creatures that resemble a black dog tho' they may be different colours such as white, yellow, and grey. There have been headless dogs and two-headed dogs reported but the majority appear as black dogs. They are larger than regular dogs usually reported to be the size of a calf. Their coats have been described as shaggy,curly, glossy, shiny, smooth, soft and bristly. Eyes are fiery or flaming or glowing usually red and are very large some have described their eyes as being as big as saucers. A few reports have reported the dog to have foul-smelling or vaporous breath and even fewer reported the dog to be foaming or slavering at the mouth. The teeth are large and sometimes they appear to be grinning.
These dogs are silent or sometimes their feet can be heard. Few bark or growl and even rarer one will laugh or talk. Occasionally they can be felt or heard but not seen.
They are reported to simply fade away but have also been said to appear to sink into the Earth or even disappear with a flash or explosion. Appearances are sometimes accompanied by lighting, fire and explosions. Some walk on their hind-legs and may increase or decrease in size, shape-shift, and walk-through solid objects.
They have been reported in Ireland,Germany, Poland, Austria, Croatia, Italy, Scandinavia, Canada and the United States. However they are most widely reported in Great Britain.
Black dogs are associated to a particular area. They are often encountered near water, roads, crossroads, footpaths, lanes, doorways, boundaries, bridges, treasure sites, graves, gallows, gateways, fields, hedges, wells and trees. There is a theory that they may patrol Ley Lines.This is a solid theory and very possibly a correct one. Two of the most well known stories of the black dogs in Britain take place in churches. It is well known that older churches are built on Ley Lines or on the vortex's, where several Ley Lines intersect.
In Britain these dogs are called Black Shuck. They are known by other names including Black Shag, Trash and Padfoot.
Stories of Black Dog Sightings
Probably the very first account of a black dog appeared in the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle" in 1127. The story goes that after the arrival of Abbot Henry of Portou at the Abbey of Peterbrough on Sunday. Many men reported both seeing and hearing a large number of huntsmen hunting.The huntsmen were huge and black and hideous and rode on black horses and he-goats and their hounds were black with eyes as large as saucers.In the night the monks could hear them sounding and blowing their horns. This went on until Easter.
The most famous account of a black dog encounter was in Bungay,Suffolk on Sunday morning on August 4,1577 just after 9am and there was a heavy thunderstorm.The large black dog was said to enter the church running down the aisle as it passed between two men who were kneeling in prayer it wrung their necks and then bite another man on the back of the neck at which time the man was said to have curled up like old leather scorched in a fire, but he still lived.
Then this same dog was said to travel seven miles to another church in Blythburgh and killed two men and a boy there as well as burned the hand of another person.
These stories are the exception and not the rule. A usual sighting takes place in a rural area a person is walking alone and notices that a large dog has suddenly appeared beside them. It will walk with them for a while and then fade away. Sometimes they even accompany the person going and coming on the same path in a certain area. Most are not threatening although it is always wise to be cautious if you encounter a strange animal.
Reactions to the Apparitions
As you can see by the stories above some people have very negative reactions to the appearance of the black dog. There is a belief among very superstitious people that these dogs are the manifestation of the devil or demons. Some experiencers have tried to pet the dogs, some have tried to hit them. Most evidence points to the black dog as being a friendly entity. If you are lucky enough to have one of these encounters just keep your wits about you and enjoy the experience!