Saturday, May 2, 2020


Black Fairy Dogs ... no, I'm not ready but I'm going to write my "final" opinions about this anyway. To ease into this and make it more enjoyable, here's a MacManus case to make it all real. 

 To the left is our main guy Diarmuid (or Dermot) MacManus (Our main gal by the way is Ethel Rudkin --- if it wasn't for the two of them, I believe that I would have nothing legitimate to say about the reality of these things --- and I think that with the exception of commentary about old legends and folktales, no one else would either.) 

The good Captain was a military officer, writer and a police officer on top of his landowner position and his friendships with people like W B Yeats. In other words a credible researcher of the highest quality. I was completely sold on MacManus before I even knew the rest of his history. I'm doubly impressed.

Here's one case:  

"In 1952 a friend of mine, Margo Ryan, a charming and intelligent girl, encountered the Pooka in a way that is typical. It happened within a day or two of mid-summer and though it was nearly midnight, by summer time of course --- astronomically about 10:30, for we are twenty minutes behind England --- it was reasonably light. 
      She was carrying home a large can of buttermilk from a neighboring farm and was walking along a quiet country road within a short distance of her house, which is near Redcross in county Wicklow. As she strolled on the quiet of the country night, a quiet that town people and people in mechanized country districts can never know, she heard a soft patter behind her and the next moment an enormous jet-black dog ranged up and walked quietly in company with her. After a bit, as it seemed so peaceable and friendly, she put out her hand to pat it, without looking down. But she could not feel it; her hand seemed to miss it and touch nothing. So she tried again, but again she could not touch it.
     This puzzled Margo, so she looked, and there it was, as solid as solid could be, though it had now moved a little away to her left and just out of reach. A moment later it was close to her again, so again she tried to pat it, but with as little success as ever. This startled her a little and she turned her head so as to look at it fully, but as she did so it moved forward and continued walking just a few feet ahead of her in the middle of the road for another fifty yards or more when it stopped, turned its head to the left, and vanished into thin air as she was looking at it. Let there be no doubt about it whatever; it did not run off but actually vanished from where it stood in the center of the road. Besides, in that place there was a ditch, and bank with no gap where a dog could have gone.
    Margo then realized vividly that the great dog stood much higher than her hand and it was not possible for her to miss it. Her hand MUST have gone through it as if it were air. 
    After this, her nervousness turned to positive fear, and she hurried home as quickly as she could without spilling the buttermilk. Her family received the story of her adventure with interest and all sympathy, for they are well aware of the reality of these things." 

So: A. IF MacManus is a good honest researcher-writer (and I thoroughly believe that to be true); and B. If he trusts his witness (which he does and thereby so do I), then C. What do we have here? My opinion: a walloping good report of a true anomalous encounter with a very large Black Dog, which "just" vanished and did not seem to be "physical" (ex. touchable.) 

In fact: after (and during) reading this case, I, as an old UFO historian, got the EXACT same feeling that I've gotten reading certain very old UFO cases. That feeling is: GAME OVER --- this is real and NOT mundanely explainable. And, just as in reading some of those old UFO cases, the thought lingers: OK, fine, I'm there, but what then exactly IS this? With UFOs, when you pound away at the literally HUNDREDS of such blockbuster cases, the (in my opinion) unavoidable resultant goes this way: 

Ignorant sensationalist listener: Do you believe in UFOs? 
Me: No. Why would I reduce my mindset to "belief" on such a non-profound topic? Ask a better question please.
Ignorant listener: Uhh... what kind of question? 
Me: How about --- if we take a hypothetical position that "Advanced Aerial Technology, which exhibits characteristics that we cannot duplicate, has been encountered flying around in our atmosphere", is there evidence supporting that hypothesis?
Ignorant listener: Uhh... OK ... go on then.
Me: Absolutely. LOTS of evidence supporting that. 
Ignorant listener: YOU believe in Aliens!!! 
Me: Groan .... could somebody get this fool a lollypop or something? 

My not-really-cavalier point to that dialogue is that while for me it can be a very small number of really good encounters which convince me that I'm dealing with a true anomaly (and a fascinating research question), those cases don't tell me exactly what I'm dealing with, and certainly don't throw me into that research-deadliest mental state of "belief." Adding to this: UFOs are a relatively easy (in my opinion) field of study to reach mountains of data upon which to build a defense of hypothesis, and also whittle certain hypotheses away, as EXTREMELY unlikely. The "Black Fairy Dog" anomaly/anomalies is/are nowhere near as robust in good data nor as limited in reasonable hypotheses. 

So, I'm "there" but I'm not yet "There", and I have my doubts that I'll ever get "THERE." 

OK. enough of the "philosophy", let's have another story. This is a case which MacManus listened to after he had (sort of by strange accident) picked up a "card" from a cigarette pack (certain brands used to place small cards of athletes, bathing suit beauties, and other things inside the wrappers). This one was something which (weirdly to me) had an artist's version of the "pooka" on it with a little talk about the legend. MacManus saw the leprechaunish humor in this find and carried it around with him. 

The tale: MacManus was in a city to do some business and the person with whom he had an appointment was a bit late. He was there chatting with the secretary waiting.

"She told me that her parents were farmers some three miles from Ballaghdereen in county Roscommon. 'But that is near me, for I am from outside Kiltimagh, in the heart of fairy country', I said laughing. 'Oh, we have fairies too', she replied, full of local patriotism. 'Ah, my dear, I am, sure they are not as real and tough as ours', I maintained.

    'But I've seen one', she blurted out in indignant tone. Then she stopped, embarrassed by her admission. This of course fired my interest, and I soon convinced her of my sympathy, and once she was sure I would not laugh she readily and convincingly told me her tale.

    It was at her home, about six o'clock on a hot summer's afternoon some six years before, when she was sixteen. She was standing in the field just behind the house when she noticed an enormous black dog as high as her shoulder walking by her only three or four yards away. As it passed, it turned its head and looked at her, though with interest rather than hostility, but to her its eyes seemed almost human in their intelligence. She had no thought that it was supernatural nor even any sense of nervousness until it reached an iron gate opening into the next field, some twenty yards from where she stood. Then, to her horror, she saw it quietly and without hesitation walk clean through the closed gate as if the solid iron were merely mist. 

    For a few moments she remained rooted to the spot, the hair on the back of her neck tingling and rising, then she pulled herself together and, turning, ran screaming into the house to the protection of her mother."

Her family was not sympathetic and she resolved to tell no one else of this experience until the accident of meeting MacManus in her employer's office. He was the first person to whom she told of her incident since that day. MacManus then displayed the cigarette card  and "she agreed that it was just what she had seen." 

MacManus has a few more such encounters in his Middle Kingdom (a book about the general array of encounters in central Ireland, not just pookas.) Re-telling those couple of his stories will serve as reward for both of us, as I soldier on with my narrative of mainly failure hunting this thing. 

                      The Devil Take The Hound-most?                              OK Bad pun. Sue me. This is tough research so you take what pleasures you can get. 

For what it's worth, this is what I tried to do: I have that big Black Dog file and a handful of relevant books. NOT comprehensively, but not lightly either, I tried to comb through those resources looking for the kind of case report that a UFO researcher might find at least somewhat interesting (i.e. credible.)  I'm looking for "encounters" remember, not fairy tales nor ancient legends nor "people around here believe that ...." Whereas in the field of Little People research you can find some such reports in somewhat olden times, I literally found NONE from the period prior to the beginning of the 1800s and few prior to the beginning of the 1900s. Why? Don't ask me; these things are just REALLY poorly documented or even "talked about." I will readily concede that dozens of folks (mainly in the UK) can/could do a better search, but I had to bend my standards far out of comfort zones to even list 60 incidents. When I consider that strongly credible UFO reports number in the thousands, and similarly credible Little people reports seem to number in the hundreds, finding a weak set of 60 disappoints --- and this despite the internet awash with folks bragging about how deluged we are with such reports (almost entirely badly reported.) 

Forgive me --- just drives me crazy. There ARE some smart people over the pond who seem to be trying to rectify this, but even their current publications are dominated by casual retelling of old stories (in majority violent) and not good recent field investigation. Great academic and entertaining writing but useless for me in getting at truth. 

Anyway, my "60" cases: 

 To the left is our great lady, Ethel Rudkin. SHE is THE field researcher. She goes to the witnesses and, like MacManus, records their stories face-to-face, and then tells us about what really happened. 

Ethel Rudkin graced us with 18 cases (thereabouts) which were recounted in enough detail in her God-send of an article in FOLKLORE #49, 1938. Rudkin's 18 cases and MacManus' 6 comprise 40% of the possibly useful incidents in my sifted pile. OR, to put it another way: without the two of them, I'd have "nothing." 

Rudkin's tales are mentioned in briefer form than MacManus' (I'll give one shortly) but her strength lies elsewhere. What she did was collect MANY incidents, often about Black Dog encounters in exactly the same areas. Her stories have the subtle strength of (while usually being less spectacular) presenting repetitive incidents witnessed by several different people at different times. Ethel Rudkin has documented evidence for Black Dog encounters tied to specific locations, though not repeating "scientifically" on the clock. It is VERY hard to read her research and cavalierly dismiss the probability that there have been places in her home county of Lincolnshire where it would not at all be surprising to her, the locals, or me, for someone to be accompanied by a large black dog on a walk in the county roads. 

The promised tale:(this is the one with the most "action"; almost all of the encounters discovered by Ethel Rudkin are pretty "tame" interactions a la MacManus' group.)

 " Mrs. G B in her young days was in service at Grayingham, and on her evenings out she used to meet B., now her husband. They used to part at Blyborough, and she would walk from there to Grayingham alone. Once she was aware of a very large Black Dog that followed her as she went along the road by The Fishpond; it annoyed her to have him "taggin' after" her, so she slackened her pace to let him come up to her, which he did. "Quick as lightening," she said "I 'upped wi' the umbrella I was a-carryin' an' 'lammed 'im one as 'ard as I could." But she nearly fainted at the result, for the umbrella "went clean thruff 'im" and the Dog trotted on beside her to the ash tree at the end of Chapels Lane where he vanished up the tree, or into the tree. " 

Hmmm.... That's normal. Sure. Happens all the time in my neighborhood. The Rudkin and MacManus encounters do in fact tell a two-dozen case story which is coherent over those incidents. (two dozen is a minimum --- Ethel Rudkin has 18 reasonably well described encounters and maps 21 cases in her map where she is looking for patterns. From hints in the text and elsewhere, it appears to me that she had more than just the 21 in her files. Hopefully all of her work will be detailed some day.) 

The gestalt story is a simple one: Big Black Dog appears to humans as they are walking or riding outside, paces them or otherwise accompanies, or just sits and stares, does not seem to really menace in any way except for the emotional response of the observers, "does no harm", is rarely felt to exhibit tangible qualities other than a quiet step, and very often ends its appearance with a shocking "instantaneous" vanishing even while being in plain sight. 

Other writers have tried to add to that description. Rudkin herself did. She looked for water connections --- others have as well. Those attempts are EXTREMELY unconvincing to me. Rudkin did not push this idea. Others have. Given the presence of "water" nearly everywhere in Britain, one needs a FAR better criterion for the term "close" to water to be even interesting. I've not seen it. 

Rudkin looked for connections between appearances and town names --- mainly what the map is about. I don't see that in the data either. A more interesting (to me) concept was her wondering if the repetitive appearances occurred along what Alfred Watkins and Paul Devereaux called Ley Lines. THAT's not well connected either, AND as the concept of Ley Lines isn't exactly pinned down, this situation is like two unknowns trying to lean on one another to prop themselves up --- not an ideal circumstance. Still I'm interested in the first stage of this one: namely, can the repetitive Black Dog "tracks" be shown as correlating with ancient roads/pathways from traditional times? Ethel Rudkin at least began a serious look into that. 

So, that's Black Dogs from the MacManus-Rudkin (and, in humble minority, Swords) perspective at this state. What about others' data? 

There's not much, again in my opinion. Although there seem to be literally hundreds more claims, I find ones with credibility (named witnesses, at least rough dates, known investigators writers actually talking to real people, etc) in very short supply (REALLY surprised me, folks.) 

There is a chapter in a book by some writer named Graham McEwan (Mystery Animals of Britain and Ireland) entitled "The Black Dog." It contains seven (eight?) cases which are promising and not already Rudkin-MacManus cases. They have a strength and a weakness. The strength is that all of them fit the Rudkin-MacManus pattern, a fact which gives me a rush of confidence. The weakness is that every one of these is described as if a reader would just automatically know where-the-@#%# the descriptions came from. They, in other words, commit the prime sin of scholarship --- they do not facilitate the reader-scholar in THEIR search to follow-up the facts. ... drives me nuts. 

Still, because the write-ups are well-done, and the details seem to be coherent, I'm trusting this author to have gleaned these cases from reasonable sources. If so, that would mean that we have over 30, nearly three dozen, incidents in this pattern. 

I'm stopping for now. I have a bit more to say (maybe tomorrow, though that's almost surely too soon.) I'll leave with the debunker's siege gun argument: Why can't these be just big dogs? 

                                        Well, there ARE big dogs, even black ones. 

Kind of hard to just suddenly duck out of sight behind a bush, though, don't you think? (I love it when the debunker argument almost immediately cancels itself out.) Back soon with the weirder claims --- some anyway. And random thoughts of what we're experiencing.

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