Black dogs are spectral animals associated with Demonic powers, death, and disaster. Phantom black dogs are widespread in folklore. They are said to be Demons or the Devil in shape-shifted form or a Demonic animal companion of Demons.
Spectral black dogs are often unusually large and have glowing red or yellow eyes. They give out an unearthly, bone-chilling howl. They like to roam remote areas of the countryside. The sight of one is a harbinger of death or disaster.
Sometimes spectral black dogs appear in the middle of lonely roads. If they are struck by a car, they disappear and the vehicle is not damaged.
One famous black dog in English folklore is Black Shuck. Shuck derives from an old Anglo-Saxon term, scucca or sceocca, meaning “Demon” or “Satan.” During the European witch hunts, witches were often said to have Familiars in the form of black dogs, or to be visited by their master, the Devil, in the shape of a black dog.
In Arabian lore, black dogs are a favourite form taken by the Djinn. If a Djinn becomes attached to a human, it may assume the shape of a black dog in order to get close to that person.
See also : Abel de Larue and Cerberus.
Reports of black dogs date back hundreds of years, with the strange apparitions appearing at crossroads across the planet. The most common belief that surrounds the black dog is their ability to predict doom- in most cases a strange death occurs soon after a sighting. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous book with Sherlock Holmes, The Hound of Baskerville, is honoured for its use of the black dog legend. It must be noted, however, that in cases involving small children or women, the dogs actually protect those who see the creature.
Most witnesses describe the creature as a gigantic black hound with glowing red eyes that resemble burning coals. In some cases, the dog was reported as white, yellow or even gray. The dog is abnormally large and muscular and appears on dark and lonely roads late at night. In most cases, the dogs simply appear and disappear from nothing- leaving no trace that they ever existed. Theo Brown, a leading investigator of black dogs, thinks they are actually a symbol of protection and exist as a “universal guardian.”
Ed Koehler, a reader of The Unexplained Site, tells of a very strange encounter with a black dog while working as a security guard in Dallas, Texas in 1983. Late at night, Ed began to see a very tall man out of the corner of his eye as his partner saw a black hound. Later, Koehler learned the building was built a top a farm in which a man, his wife and dog had been killed.
The famous folk-blues singer and guitarist Robert Johnson, of the 1930s, was said to have made a pact with the devil to gain his amazing musical talents. Johnson never denied the rumours, which were spread by those who were jealous and in awe of his abilities. In “Cross Road Blues,” from 1936, Johnson alluded to the meeting at a crossroad with a man in black. In another song, he proclaimed, “I’ve got to keep moving… There’s a hellhound on my trail!”
The first recorded sighting of a black dog come in the form of a chilling French manuscript. Written in 856 AD, the Annales Franorum told of a sudden darkness that overtook a small church. A hellhound, with glowing red eyes, was seen as if it was searching for something before quickly disappearing.
In Bongay, England on August 4, 1577, a black dog appeared in a church during a violent storm. Running up and down the aisles, the creature killed two worshippers and injured another while a similar attack took place seven miles away.
In modern times, the black dog has gained the role of a protector of small children and women. Most cases involve the creatures helping those in need while they traverse a dark and dangerous area of road.
When looking at the history of the Black Dogs, one can assume their troubled history may reflect their status in the world.
There are many stories of mysterious dogs, usually black but sometimes of another colour, appearing out of nowhere. Sometimes the dog materializes to guide a lost traveller home—typically a woman in need of protection—and then vanishes, perhaps when the traveller tries to touch the dog. Other times the mysterious dog threatens or attacks someone before vanishing. In most cases, however, the animal does nothing more than appear, stare at any people present, and then vanish. Nonetheless, those who see these dogs are convinced that they are evil spirits, the devil, or messengers foretelling someone’s death. In a few accounts, the dogs are said to have glowing red eyes that are clearly otherworldly. Written accounts of black-dog sightings date back to A.D. 856. From this time until the end of the sixteenth century, most of the reported sightings were on church grounds. In modern times, however, the dogs are usually said to appear on deserted roads, particularly near midnight.
- Mysterious Beasts
- Demons and the Devil
The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Paranormal Phenomena – written by Patricia D. Netzley © 2006 Gale, a part of Cengage Learning