Black Dogs: Phantom Hounds in Legend and Life
Tales are told of a large semi-phantom dog with fur that's blacker than the night and eyes that burn like red coals. These 'Black Dogs' appear and disappear in a moment, and can be solid as any true dog or thin as smoke whenever they wish. Black Dogs are one of the more complicated paranormal phenomena reported, both having a clearly legendary base of stories coupled with claims of first and second-hand actual sightings and encounters. Are they a story that has come to be mistaken for real? Or are they a real phenomena that has been cloaked in myth? It's unlikely a clear answer will ever be found.
Most tales and reports of Black Dogs come from Great Britain, but they have generally been reported all across Europe with some newer reports from the United States. Black dogs are often associated with lonely stretches of road, crossroads, churches, and places people have been executed; in older folklore, these creatures were variously explained as the ghosts of murdered or executed people, harbingers of death, or an earthly manifestation of the Devil... but these are the opinions and guesses of the distant past. Renewed interest in Black Dog lore since 1938 has led to the finding of many new reports of first hand encounters with these beasts and, despite the ominous explanations of the past, most of the recent Black Dog encounters are far from dangerous, often with the phantom animal acting as a guardian for humans in danger. Another odd detail is that two separate studies of modern Black Dog encounters in England have shown these events almost always occur within a short distance of a river, lake, or creek; it seems the Black Dogs have a connection to water, but the reason why is not known.
Below is a list of both reported encounters and stative tales of the Black Dog, chronological by either the date the events are said to have occurred, or by the first known date of publication for each legend.