Friday, 30 October 2009

Halloween is upon us! ~ Black Dogs , Ghost Dogs ~ Two personal experiences of dog ghosts

As Halloween is almost here, I thought that I would write something about ghost dogs.

But first, one of my own experiences of dog ghosts. This is a true story.


There is a quiet country lane close to where I live (NW Leicestershire, UK). Sometimes I walk along it with my dogs.
A few years ago I was walking down it, when I heard a dog whimpering and crying in distress. The noise was coming from the far side of the hedge bordering the road. My two dogs were silent and alert, and were staring at the part of the hedge where the crying was coming from. I stopped walking and the whimpering ceased, but my dogs were still staring at the same place. As I couldn't get access at that point, I walked further on to a gate, and was able to gain access to the field behind the hedge. THERE WAS NOTHING THERE!!! No dogs, no other animals, no people - just an empty field. It was a clear bright autumn day. As you can imagine, I felt it was a very weird experience, especially as both of my dogs were aware of something being there!
We finished our walk in peace, but I was puzzled and unsettled by the incident. So, a couple of days later, we walked along the lane again at the same time as before. EXACTLY THE SAME THING HAPPENED AGAIN AT THE SAME PLACE! The whimpering was loud and clear, and ,again, there was nothing there! My two dogs were alert and silent, just as before. This time I felt a chill run down my spine. I started to wonder if ghost dogs existed!
I repeated the exercise the following day and the same thing happened yet again. After that the phenomenon ceased, and did not repeat itself until a year later. It was at the same time of day (mid-morning) in early autumn (fall). It was a fine day as before, and there were no other people, dogs, or other animals around.
I went along there every day at the same time and had the exact same experience. But after a few days it stopped again - and was not repeated until the following year at the same time and place. This happened to me for 4 years running before stopping completely. I've never heard it again.
I've thought about it a lot and only ever discussed it with my wife.
It is a long, straight and narrow country lane. Cars do sometimes drive very fast along it. I'm wondering if a dog was killed there. I guess that I should have asked my neighbours at the time, but I left it.
A friend of mine has told me that ghosts appear to have a "lifetime". That is, the reported phenomena starts, continues for some years, and then ceases! That is what happened with my dog ghost. And it is a true story.
As it is nearly Halloween I will tell you another true story further down the page.

Lets get back to Black Dogs and Ghost Dogs

Black Dogs occur in folk lore all over Britain. Black dogs are also reported all over Latin America.
In America there are stories of Snarly Yow. See : Ghosts and Legends of Frederick County by Timothy L. Cannon and Nancy F. Whitmore.
It is a night time apparation and is considered to be a portent of death. It is said to be larger than a normal dog and possess glowing eyes.
Whitby (in England) has a very famous Black Dog. Whitby is also the setting for Bram Stoker's Dracula!
In Britain various names are given to Black Dogs depending on locality, e.g. Barguest, Shuck, Black Shag, Trash, Skriker, Padfoot, Hooter,etc. There is list below :
  • Devon : Yell Hound or Yell Hound
  • East Anglia : Old Shock, Shucky Dog, Black Shuck, the Shug Monster
  • Lancashire : Trash, Guytrash, Skriker
  • Leicestershire : Shag Dog
  • Lincolnshire : Hairy Jack
  • Midlands :  Hooter
  • Norfolk : Shuck, Black Shuck, Old Shuck
  • Somerset : Gurt Dog or ‘great dog’
  • Staffordshire : Padfoot 
  • Suffolk : Scarfe, Gally-trot, Gallytrot, Galley Trot, Moddey Dhoe
  • Warwickshire :  Hooter
  • Westmorland : Cappel
  • Wales :  Gwyllgi (dog of darkness)Yorkshire : Barghest, Barghaist, Barguest, Barguest, Barn-ghaist, Skriker
  • Scotland : Black dog known as the Muckle Black Tyke and in Gaelic as Choin Dubh. Cu Sith or fairy dog is more common and is usually green or sometimes white.
  • Isle of Man : Moddey Dhoo, which means "Black Dog" and is pronounced "Mauther Thoo" in Manx Gaelic 
  • Jersey :  Le Tchan de Bouôlé
Black Dogs can appear in specific types of places:
  • roads
  • crossroads
  • lanes
  • footpath
  • bridges
  • gateways
  • doorways
  • staircases
  • boundaries
  • fields
  • hedges
  • green lanes
  • treasure sites
  • wayside burials
  • graves and gallows
  • wells and trees
Black dogs have a long history. The first English account of a black dog appears in the ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle' of 1127.

" Let no-one be surprised at the truth of what we are about to relate, for it was common knowledge throughout the whole country that immeddaitely after his arrival [Abbot Henry of Poitou at Abbey of Peterborough] - it was the Sunday when they sing Exurge Quare o, D - many men both saw and heard a great number of huntsmen hunting. The huntsmen were black, huge and hideous, and rode on black horses and on black he-goats and their hounds were jet black with eyes like saucers and horrible. This was seen in the very deer park of the town of Peterborough and in all the woods that stretch from that same town to Stamford, and in the night the monks heard them sounding and winding their horns. Relaible witnesses who kept watch in the night declared that there might well have been as many as twenty or thirty of them winding their horns as near they could tell. This was seen and heard from the time of his arrival all through Lent and right up to Easter."

That's just a taster for you!

Below are a couple of interesting books that you might like to read.

edited by Bob Trubshaw
The folklore of phantom black dogs is known throughout the British Isles. From the Black Shuck of East Anglia to the Moody Dhoo of the Isle of Man there are tales of huge spectral hounds 'darker than the night sky' with eyes 'glowing red as burning coals'.
The phantom black dog of British and Irish folklore, which often forewarns of death, is part of a world-wide belief that dogs are sensitive to spirits and the approach of death, and keep watch over the dead and dying. North European and Scandinavian myths dating back to the Iron Age depict dogs as corpse eaters and the guardians of the roads to Hell. Medieval folklore includes a variety of 'Devil dogs' and spectral hounds. Above all, the way people have thought about such ghostly creatures has steadily evolved.
In the last hundred years East Anglia and Dorset have received the greatest attention from folklorists interested in such canine apparitions. This book includes a detailed study of the lore in Norfolk, showing how oral tales become interwoven with published accounts and the heritage of historic places.
But are phantom black dogs nothing more than myths and tales? There is also an assessment of the psychology of phantom black dog sightings. Another chapter quotes emails from various people in America and Canada who have been terrified by phantom black dogs without any prior awareness of such folklore.
The concluding part of this book is a comprehensive annotated bibliography of phantom black dog literature, including listings by geographical area.
This book will appeal to all those interested in folklore, the paranormal and fortean phenomena.
Contributors: Jeremy Harte, Simon Sherwood, Alby Stone, Bob Trubshaw and Jennifer Westwood.


Paul Sieveking Fortean Times

'I think this must be the best entry in the Explore series I have seen so far... '
Aeronwy Dafies Monomyth Supplement

'... a very important contribution to the literature... highly recommended.'
Andrew Bates Silver Wheel

'This is an excellent work and is very highly recommended.'
Michael Howard The Cauldron

Published by Explore Books, an imprint of Heart of Albion Press.
ISBN 978 1872 883 786. 2005.
demy 8vo (215 x 138 mm), 152 + viii pages, 10 b&w half-tones, paperback

Synopsis and reviews courtesy of Explore Books

and have a look at this:

The following refernce is very interesting to read. The link will take you to the University of Wisconsin Madinson Library, which is a safe site to visit.
Chambers, R. (Ed.) (1879). Spectre Dogs. In, The Book of Days Vol. 2 (pp. 433-436). Philadelphia, PA: J. P. Lippincott & Co.


And now to my other personal experience of a ghost dog. This is also a true story.

It happened at the animal shelter where I worked. We had a small intake block which sometimes had an odd feel about it. Some of the kennel girls said that they sometimes felt that something was there which they couldn't see.
There was a central corridor with individual kennels either side. I'd walked to the door at one end. Suddenly all the dogs fell silent, and I heard claws tapping down the corridor and which stopped just behind me. I thought that one of the dogs had got free, but when I looked around all I saw was an empty corridor with all the kennel doors shut. Every dog was saniding at its door staring at the space behind me. The hairs on my neck really did stand up!
Well whatever it was, it only happened to me the one time (thankfully).

That's my two personal experiences of ghost dogs plus some info about Black Dogs.

It will be a full moon on November 2nd (UK) so watch out for werewolves!

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Dogs and Fireworks ~ Firework Phobia ~ What You Can Do

As Featured On EzineArticlesFear of fireworks - tips on how to help your dog.

It will soon be Halloween, Guy Fawkes Night,
Diwali, then Christmas and New
Year. Not forgetting private parties! So fireworks galore!

I like fireworks - unfortunately many dogs don't!
One of my greyhounds isn't bothered, but the other is frightened of them (and other loud noises). The dogs always come first.

One year we had fireworks going off very close to our house. They started very early and we were caught unawares. They lasted until quite late. Olive was fine, but poor Boris was terrified. He curled up in his bed and SHOOK with fear.
I gave him Bach Rescue Remedy which helped him. He stopped shaking and his heart became quieter. We also had the TV on quite loud to drown out the noise.
He refused to eat until very late (well after the fireworks had finished).

The majority of dogs are frightened, and some are absolutely terrified by fireworks.
Dogs hearing is much more sensitive than ours, so the problem is magnified.
They are also very aware of preparations, so watch your dogs closely for signs of stress (see further down for a list)
Dogs and fireworks should be on different planets!

You can help your dog with Firework phobia and other loud noise fears.
This can be done with desensitisation and management methods.

So what can we do?
  • Walk your dog before the fireworks start - do not take them out after they have started - your dog needs to be settled in advance. Please don't take them to a display - this will only make things worse. Make sure that he empties himself.
  • Feed your dog early, but don't worry if food is refused.
  • Make a secure, safe place for your dog. This can be done by placing his bed behind a sofa. Being in a quiet, dark corner with familiar things is very comforting to a dog.
  • Make sure he cannot escape from the house. Be vigilant and careful with doors. Dogs think that the explosions are inside the house and will want to get outside to escape them! Keep his collar on with home details attached, just in case! Don't let him out on his own.
  • Close windows doors, curtains. This will reduce noise levels and mask flashes. Play music. Classical music has been shown to have a calming effect. Or put the TV on loud.
  • Do NOT reward your dog - No treats, reassurance, or petting! It will reassure your pet if you ignore the noises.
  • Distraction. Play with your dog. This can be a good distraction. It can also help if there is a non-fearful companion animal with them.
  • I've used Bach Rescue Remedy on my dogs with some success. Give just before the noise starts! Repeat as per instructions on the bottle.
  • Other Herbal Remedies like Valerian (liquid or tablets) and Skullcap can help. Consult your vet if your dog is on medication.
  • Desensitisation. CDs are available which help to deal with the your dog's fears.They are available for fireworks, thunder, and gunshots. The CDs come with instructions - it is a gradual method of increasing noise level. It is important that your dog doesn't show signs of fear during use.You can buy a firework phobia CD set here Sounds Scary Fireworks 2 CD Pack
  • DAP -dog appeasment pheromone. This is a plug-in diffuser -it has a calming effect. It is also available as a spray. Start using it before the fireworks start.
  • In very severe cases of fear, it could be worthwhile to consult your vet or a dog behavourist.
  • Look out for signs of stress (see list below)
I've looked around and found these useful products - just click on the links to see for yourself.
Click on this link for Bach Rescue Remedy
Click on this link for DAP

Click on this link for
Sounds Scary Fireworks 2 CD Pack


Look out for Signs of Stress
The following are all symptoms of distress

  • trembling or shaking
  • restlessness or pacing
  • panting
  • whining
  • barking
  • hiding
  • destructiveness
  • attention seeking
  • trying to escape
  • messing or urinating in the house
  • refusing food
Please remember : DO NOT take your dog to a fireworks display. This will NOT cure his fear, it will only make matters worse!
Boris the lad is frightened and curls up into a ball in his bed. He looks tiny and he is a big greyhound! He also refuses food. Boris knows well before we do when the fireworks are going to start. I always watch him closely, so I have early warning!
Olive the girl is very laid back. She stretches out on the couch and goes off to sleep!
Good luck with your dog!
To find those useful products - just click on the links below.

Click on this link for Bach Rescue Remedy
Click on this link for DAP

Click on this link to for Sounds Scary Fireworks 2 CD Pack


This is an updated version of a couple of posts that I made a year ago.

As Featured On EzineArticles

Friday, 16 October 2009

A Close Encounter of the Bovine Kind! ~ Dogs & Cows ~ Natural England & Stewardship

Recently while out walking our dogs we met some cows with calves.

We were on a public footpath and just about to go through a gate when we saw them. They also saw us and came running over.

To begin with they were very curious - just sniffing the air and peering at the dogs. We stood very quietly on our side of the fence, but the cows soon became very agitated. It was very clear that it would have been dangerous to enter with the dogs.

Our problem was that it was the only way back. (The alternative was to turn back and walk another couple of miles, but our old girl had had enough). We could only get into the adjacent field by climbing over a fence - no problem for us but our greyhounds couldn't get over.

Our old girl weighs 28Kg. I lifted her up and passed her over the fence to my brother. But Boris not only weighs 36Kg, he also hates to be lifted. I gave it a try, but he went a bit crazy!

I walked some distance along the fence and found a gate - padlocked of course! But there was a big enough gap next to the gatepost for Boris to squeeze under - wriggling along on your belly doesn't come easily to greyhounds!

The field we were now in had a gate which we could open onto the road, so we were able to finish our walk in safety.

Back in June I made a post about dogs and cows - please take a look at the archive.

Natural England & Stewardship & Grazing Livestock
There was an item on the radio this morning about this. It came from Cornwall.
Cattle (usually longhorns, I understand) are roaming freely on the coastal footpath. This is because grazing encourages bio-diversity. (This is true and is a very good idea). It is part of the stewardship scheme which attracts EU subsidies.
Two problems mentioned were : 1) the number of gates and fences being erected across what was an open landscape and 2) the potential dangers for dog walkers. (Dogs and people are also part of bio-diversity!)
The point was made that dogs should be kept on leads. But that doesn't stop the cattle from approaching you and causing a problem!

The usual advice is stay calm and quiet. Don't run. Standing still can be useful - the cows will sniff you and eventually go away. Try to make a quiet exit or get to the edge of a field.
It is suggested that you let your dogs off lead - they can take care of themselves. But what if you have an old slow dog?

Things get serious if the cows feel that you or your dogs are a threat.

I've heard it suggested that you throw your arms up and shoo the cows away. Not sure I want to do that in a dodgy situation!

I like to think ahead - look for signs of cows - are there cow pats, is the ground churned up, are there troughs of water. Avoidance is the best policy I think.