The Black Dog

By: Charla White (
People of Scotland and Ireland have seen the black dog for
centuries.  It should be noted that the black dog is not
limited to the borders of Ireland and Scotland, as he will
appear wherever there are Celtics.  The black dog does not
limit itself to those of a specific economic or social
class; rather he’s an equal opportunity visitor.  Nor is it
always a purveyor of death and evil.  Some have viewed
"their" black dog to be a protector who will act as a
guardian angel or guide to the after life.
A few witnesses have described the black dog as large, as
big as a calf but smaller than a Labrador dog, and shaggy.
Witnesses can not agree on the size of the black dog but
they all agree on two things.  The black dog does not make a
sound whatsoever and it has large fiery red eyes.
For some, the black dog is believed to be a dangerous omen.
Many believe it will hunt the guilty down until justice is
done ? in one form or another. Witnesses to the black dog
report an overwhelming sense of despair, are despondent and notice a severe decline in vitality making their ability to
observe their surroundings or the black dog nearly
impossible.  The black dog does not exhibit aggressive
behavior; rather it just follows and projects a feeling of
fear and despair.  However, there are some reports that the
dog is harmless unless provoked or touched.  Primarily it is
believed to do mental harm first (despair, despondency),
followed by physical harm (usually an accident of some sort
because of victims lack of clarity), and end in death.
The appearance of the black dog means different things
depending upon who you are and what type of life you are
living.  For the MacLartin Clan seeing the black dog means
one of them will die an ignoble death on a dunghill.
Far-fetched you say?  The black dog followed Lord Jamie
MacLartin one evening in 1715.  It is reasonable to say that
he was so fearful, he wasn’t being very observant to his
surroundings, which enabled a group of English Dragoons to
capture him.  Lord MacLartin was robbed, hung by the neck
until dead and then his body left on a nearby dunghill.
Scotland and Ireland are not the only countries to have
black dogs.  England has Shuck who is a black, fiery-eyed
dog who is believed to be an apparition of evil.  Church
Grim is another black dog that guards Churchyards from evil,
whether spirit or human.
The black dog is said to vanish in a brilliant burst of
light.  One farmer on Dartmoor reportedly saw a large black
dog in the near distance.  Being the friendly type, he
attempted to make friends with the dog.  The dog turned
darting away. The farmer gave chase.  At the crossroad, the
dog disappeared in a brilliant explosive flash knocking the
farmer to the ground.
One night a man near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire struck out at a black dog with two large glowing eyes.  The dog
vanished leaving the farmer speechless and paralyzed
A waggoner on the road at Hatfield Peverell, Essex was said
to encounter a large black dog that blocked his side of the
country lane.  Thinking to chase the dog out of the way, the
waggoner attempted to hit the dog.  The waggoner was found burnt to ashes next to his abandoned horse and wagon.  Many who have reported seeing the black dog vanishing have returned to the spot and found scorched marks smelling heavily of brimstone.
The Suffolk area has suffered through horrifying incidents
involving the black dog.  The following incidents have been
documented.  On August 4, 1577 the residents of Bungary and Suffolk were attending church when there was a sudden
violently unusual thunderstorm that turned the sky dark and
made the church quake.  The parish clerk was cleaning the
roof gutters at the time when he was struck to the ground by
lightening.  Fortunately, he was not seriously injured.
Outside the lightening danced around the church illuminating the black dog and allowing the entire congregation to see it clearly.  The dog ran down the aisle through the congregation.  As it passed through two members who were kneeling in pray they fell to the floor, dead.  Another man who was unfortunate to have been touched by the dog shriveled up, yet remained alive.  The clock mechanism of the church was twisted and broken.  The stones and the metal door were marred by claw marks.
The same day, seven miles away in Blythburg another black
dog was reported to have run down the aisle smiting members of the congregation, killing two men and a young boy, and blasting others within the church.
In the Somerset Volume of County Folklore there is a short
reference to two people who died in 1960 after having seen a
black dog believed to haunt the road from St. Audries to
Perry Farm.
As I had indicated earlier, there are some that treasure
their experiences with the black dog.  In Ireland, there is
the Pooka who is believed to be a good companion and guide
to those who are walking the lonely dark country lanes.  In
the 1930’s in the isolated valleys of the Quantock Hills,
women allowed their small children to roam the hillside.
They knew their children would be protected and well looked
after by the Gurt Dog (black dog).
The next time you find yourself either walking alone on a
dark stretch of road willingly or otherwise, keep your eyes
focused on the road before you, cross your fingers, say a
prayer, whistle and hope that the black dog doesn’t come to
keep you company.