1937 (pre): Black Dog of Bourne Wood
In 1937, a Mrs. M. of Haconby in Kesteven Riding, Lincolnshire, England, gave a statement to the effect that a male friend of hers (who was dead at the time of her statement) had often told her of the existence of a Black Dog in or near Bourne Wood in that area. Both this man and his sister had been in the habit of taking a short cut through Bourne Wood, and had often encountered a large black dog that they thought belonged to the gatekeeper of the area; it was very friendly, but would never let them touch it, and always left them when they reached a certain hand-gate at the corner of the wood. The brother thought this behaviour was strange because he knew the gatekeeper lived a great distance away, so he asked around a bit and discovered that other people had encountered the same large black dog on their evening walks, and it also always left them when they reached the very same hand-gate. The hand-gate in question was still standing at the time Mrs. M. made her statement.
This account was taken from a collection of Lincolnshire, England, Black Dog accounts gathered by Folklorist Ethel Rudkin in 1938, hence the year given of pre-1938. The purpose of her study was to record the beliefs in the county regarding the phantom-like Black Dogs. While an argument could be put forward that the people Rudkin talked to simply encountered a real dog that was black, the point to the collection was that none of these people believed that to be the case... every single person she included in her collection was sure they had encountered the supernatural creature labeled a 'Black Dog.' As to the question of the intelligence or veracity of the people interviewed, Rudkin herself stated:
"I would like to emphasise this point: I have never yet had a Black Dog story from anyone who was weak either in body or mind."
As with all accounts from Rudkin, it is entirely up to you to decide if it is true or not; but, in either case, it still evidences the beliefs regarding the Black Dog spirits in the area.