Here's one way of meeting the Black Dog (Black Shuck, Gytrash, Barguest)
Black dog in a Blackberry Bush
In the early 1990s I used to live in a semi-detached house in Nuthall Road, Nottingham. It had a long garden with a disused railway line at the end blocked off with wooden fencing and a full 6.5 ft (2m) hedge to the right. The left hand side used to have a wire fence, but this had long since been removed, and growing between the old posts were blackberry bushes, with vast gaps in between through which you could nip into next door’s garden. The neighbour was an old lady we got on with well so it never seemed worth putting up a new fence – besides she had three marvellous apple trees ripe for the picking!
When I had away some eight feet (2.4m), the rustling stopped abruptly and a black funnel of fog or mist shot out and arched into the air. As it descended in front of us, it began to take the shape of a huge black dog – well, I say a dog, but it reminded me of the keepers or gargoyles in the film Ghostbusters. It was roughly four and a half feet (1.4m) tall and about 3 feet (90cm) across, black like a panther, huge fangs dripping with saliva and to be honest the most terrifying thing I had the misfortune to meet.
It felt as if we spend an eternity transfixed by its gaze. It stepped slowly forwards and I heard my friend’s footfalls as he frantically ran to the house, leaving me with this thing bearing down on me. That was it: the autopilot came on and I turned and fled, with tears rolling down my cheeks in absolute terror. I have never run that fast in my life and never will again; it was pure adrenalin fuelled panic.
My friend had collapsed in front of the freezer his face snow-white and his hair standing on end. He was shaking and mumbling, but I was too terrified to comprehend his ramblings, but after a few minutes we moved into the adjoining room and looked out the window overlooking the garden. There was nothing there.
The encounter with the black dog seems to me to have been an externalisation of my internal terror. I couldn’t cope with it and it was destroying me. I needed to be given a jolt somehow. The black dog did this….and did indeed ‘hound’ me out of Nottingham (to East Anglia, ironically, where I found black dog stories everywhere!)
I had been living out a myth of self-destruction – and it had taken a face-to-face encounter with a myth to bring me to my senses.
JD, East Anglia, 2004
Take from this tale what you will. Believe or not, you should not care what people think about your beliefs anyway. This story might not be real, this 'JD' may have made it up. But I like it. I like to believe, besides, I don't think it matters, it's a good read...