For centuries, stories have been told about mysterious black dogs. These black dogs are larger than the average canine and have glowing red eyes. They usually appear for only a few minutes then disappear into thin air. Some witnesses claim to smell a distinct sulfur smell. Although there are occasionally reports of benevolent black dogs, usually they have a more sinister air.
Thought to be associated with death or the Devil, these black dogs are sometimes called “Hellhounds”. Often eyewitnesses claim to see the black dogs with a black robed figure thought to be the Devil. Others believe the black dogs are the Devil in disguise.
Black Dogs in the Middle Ages
During the Middle Ages, there were widespread claims of black dogs entering churches, usually during a bad storm. They would appear to be searching for someone or something. One famous tale of black dogs from this time occurred in Bungay, England on August 4, 1577. A large black dog ran down the aisle in a church, killing two people, and severely injuring a third. The church still stands. On its door are some strange marks said to have been left by the dog. A weathervane with a devilish dog stands in the Bungay market to commemorate this event.
Black Dogs and Cemeteries
Many sightings of black dogs occur in cemeteries, especially in New England. It is speculated that these black dogs are protecting the graves of the dead. Others claim to see limbless or headless black dogs in slave cemeteries in the South. Many of these reports claim the black dogs are vicious, however, there is an occasional report of a black dog comforting a person.
Black Dogs as Death Omens
There are also numerous claims of mysterious black dogs appearing out of nowhere and spending time with a family. Hours later, the family will receive news of the death of a loved one and the black dog will vanish into thin air.
Black Dogs in Hanging Hills, Connecticut
There is a local legend in the town of Hanging Hills, Connecticut. Locals claim there is a small black dog who roams the forest there. They claim that the first time a person meets the dog, it is friendly. The second time meeting the dog will be for sorrow and the third meeting brings death. It has been seen by everyone from mountain climbers to Marines. All say that the dog resembles a spaniel. It is a washed-out black color. It appears out of nowhere, leaves no footprints, and makes no noise when it barks.
One of the most famous encounters with this particular black dog is that of geologist W.C.H. Pylon. In the spring of 1898, Pynchon encountered a little black dog while hiking. He claimed it was friendly and good company. The next time Pynchon saw the black dog was while mountain climbing with a friend, Herbert Marshall. When Pynchon and Marshall got to the summit of West Peak, they were surprised to see the black dog waiting for them. Marshall, who had already seen the black dog twice before, suddenly lost his footing and fell to his death. Years later, Pynchon returned to Hanging Hills. His body was found near the same place as his friend’s had been.
Black Dog Explanations
What could these black dogs be? The obvious answer is eyewitnesses are misidentifying living black dogs. Other logical explanations include hallucinations, mental projections, or as an overactive imagination.
Black dog sightings occur all over the world. Is it the product of over-active imaginations or is it something more sinister? No one knows for sure.