The Furry Phantoms of Folklore
During the Halloween season we retell the old scary stories like the Headless Horseman, the Raven, and the man with the Golden Arm. But did you ever hear of the Black Dog of the Hanging Hills? Ghost stories involving dogs are surprisingly numerous in the folklore of most cultures and countries.
English mythology is rife with references to “spectre-dogs”, with a particular legend in almost every county. All bear similar characteristics: large, shaggy, and black, with fiery eyes. These ghostly dogs are supposedly evil spirits, haunting places where evil deeds have been done, and in some cases are even an omen of death! Common names for these spirits are Black Shuck, Padfoot, Mauthe Doog, and the Barghest.
In Essex, England at the Star Inn hangs the head of a bull terrier named Essex who is said to haunt the passage leading to the bar. He seems to appear only to other dogs, who will stiffen and growl the moment they set foot in the passage. Essex also seems to deter burglars, the Star has never had a break in!
Surrey’s Ham House is host to not only its former tenant, the evil Duchess of Lauderdale, but her King Charles spaniel. This friendly ghost is quite famous amongst visitors, and has often been seen on the house grounds in broad daylight.
Our side of the world has its stories, too. Such as Kabar, the Great Dane belonging to silent film star Rudolph Valentino. He is said to make frequent appearances at his grave, licking the people that pass.
From Connecticut comes the Black Dog of the Hanging Hills, a small apparition for whom the local saying goes, “And if a man shall meet the Black Dog once, it shall be for joy; and if twice, it shall be for sorrow; and the third time, he shall die.” And, allegedly, several have.
This Halloween, if you hear the sounds of panting and nails clicking, don’t turn around, lest “the black dog be at your back”!
Article Written by Jenny Smith