1926: Ethel Rudkin sees a Black Dog
Ethel Rudkin's collection and study of Black Dog encounter reports from Lincolnshire, England, was published in the journal Folklore in 1938. Groundbreaking as the study was, there was one report in the study that wasn't fully explained; in the preface to the study, as Rudkin explained that her sources were trustworthy people simply stating things they felt were true, Rudkin commented "Perhaps it is because I have seen the Black Dog, and can therefore believe that the narrator has also seen him, that I have been able to get such good firsthand stories..."
Rudkin doesn't expand on her own encounter in the study itself; years later in 1958, however, folklorist Theo Brown revealed just a little bit more. Brown had befriended Rudkin as Brown was doing her own survey of Black Dog encounters and lore; because of this, she had been told that Rudkin had seen a Black Dog herself in 1926 at the ruins of Dunwich Abbey... and past that, nothing more is said. It seems likely that this event, however it played out, sparked the interest that led Ethel Rudkin to do her survey of the local spectral and social phenomena known as Black Dogs.