Hopefully Lisa Roy's perfect fairy can look into her magic ball and transmit the answer to us. This is part three of my "feeble lucubrations" as our olden British colleagues might say, and it will be the last. (detectable internet sighs noted.)
HIGH-STRANGENESS IN THE DATA?
There is a little of that.
CASE A. Gorleston, East Anglia. 1972. An officer for the Coastguard was on duty and scanning the beach from his lookout station. The Sun had just risen. There was nothing of interest along the beaches, so the officer concentrated on a lonely dog running on the beach. The large black dog was running around the beach as if looking for someone. The witness watched the running dog continuously for more than two minutes. Then just as if (somehow) a "sheet" was slowly drawn over the animal, and it gradually became invisible.
Well, THAT's different. I've had two UFO cases in my career wherein the object seemed to gradually be eclipsed by something mysterious and itself unseeable, but that doesn't help me much in coping with this claim.
CASE B. Beccles, Suffolk. Late 1930s. (unusual in the credibility department in that the writer (Ivan Bunn) stated that he personally interviewed the witness more than one time.) The witness and her sister went out at night to post a letter. As they got near the Post Office a large black dog appeared. The witnesses thought that this must be a neighbor's dog running loose, and did the neighborly thing of trying to catch it. When just about to successfully grab it, however, the dog began to shrink its size. It got "to the size of a cat" and then just disappeared completely.
Hmmm... shrinking to near nothing then "POP!" gone. Pretty weird. And NOT explainable.
CASE C. Rural Colorado mountains. c. late 1990s. Four people were on a vacation drive (a mother and her two daughters showing their guest the local scenery) when they saw a large dog cross the road ahead. The dog was black, but to begin with nothing unusual. However, once the car came alongside the dog, the animal merely walked into the side of the mountain and was gone. There was no crevice, no outlet of any kind --- just a solid rock face.
OK. One more complete stumper.
CASE D. Cowpen near Blyth, Northumberland. c. turn-of-the-century. This was one story in a local newspaper that was collected with others in a book called Uncanny Stories in 1926. Two persons, one an evangelist, were walking, as they usually did, near the local cemetery just before midnight. A large black dog "just" appeared alongside as if it had just been in a long run. As they stared at one another, the dog "seemed to pull itself together and, rising before our eyes, gradually spread itself out to about the size of an ordinary bed quilt, then it sailed away from where we stood ... We watched it drift away over the tops of trees, and finally disappear from our view travelling skyward."
Uhhh .... WHAT?!!!
CASE E. Kettleness, Yorkshire. 1950s. A minister-to-be had become impressed by Bram Stoker's Dracula book and that it might have been inspired in part by a local Kettleness legend of a wandering Black Dog. This was around 1910. Then, in the 1920s, he interviewed a fisherman who reported a Black Dog interaction. Finally, in the 1950s, the minister-to-be had indeed become not only a minister but also a regional exorcist for his church. He with two friends witnessed a Black Dog in concert with "an overwhelming sense of evil."
Knowing of his unusual "skill", his friends asked him if he would consider exorcizing the area and therefore the beast. The minister said yes and made preparations. One evening, sometime later, the exorcist walked the shoreline with his friend and felt the same evil foreboding. "A huge black hound" appeared and moved toward them. The friend panicked and ran. The exorcist stood his ground. He believed that the hound wasn't physical but some sort of projection by evil. He convinced himself that he'd dealt with all this before in previous exorcisms. So, saying the words of exorcism, he splashed Holy Water at the black thing. The Black Dog disappeared. The exorcist continued to do his work over a larger area in the locale. Supposedly this ended for all time the appearances of the Black Dog.
I suppose that one's openness to this claim relates to one's views about demons and exorcism. I'm a Catholic. This guy wasn't a Catholic priest, but we Catholics do have a willingness to see possibility in possession and exorcism. On the one hand, I felt that the narrative of this case (I probably should have typed it all out in quotes for your own reaction) was a bit too "heroic" by the teller. On the other hand, I've known two Catholic exorcists (one quite well), so have some resistance to merely rejecting such claims.
So I'm flummoxed by all this. ... as usual.
High Strangeness indeed. Four very odd methods of disappearing and one very odd method of being forced to disappear.
Glowing or Red Eyes? I have very few red-eyed Black Dogs in my list of 60+ cases (perhaps seven in all.) This, it turns out, is not unusual in this field if the researcher takes a (to me) appropriate approach to the data. In my opinion, the paucity in "red fiery eyed" black dog reports in my collection is a resultant from the sifting of the case list for better credibility. Again, in my opinion, the vast majority of fiery red-eyed claims are older claims, and most of those cases buried in cultures whose members "know" that they are supposed to describe Black Dogs with fiery eyes. ... and ... the reports hardly distinguish themselves from the legends.
That may seem harsh and "bold." But I have a second ally in this. Mike Burgess is the fellow who did the really heroic effort that we all can read on the SHUCKLAND web site. He worked his database over like no one else in the field --- remarkable --- strong --- impressive. Burgess has 179 cases on his site which specializes in East Anglia cases. Of those 179, 21 described glowing fiery eyes, and only 9 described red eyes. Red is rare in these stories; glowing fiery (remember that "fiery" is yellow-orange, not red) eyes are only a bit more common. Most dog's eyes don't exhibit enough interest to even merit specific mention.
Also, the collage above is to demonstrate that "glowing" eyes are rather common --- that is what eyes do --- they reflect light, different colors for different species.
Dogs don't typically "shine" red but a few shine orange. Often eyes just shine strongly in some color or other so that they seem like internally glowing spot lights. They aren't. Witnesses might report glowing eyes for several reasons: the eyes really are reflecting ambient light, they might even appear a bit yellowy or orangey, they might be so excited that they're seeing eyes brighter than they are, they might even convince themselves that those eyes were "fiery" or even red, when they in fact were just normal reflections.
The bottomline here is that your loyal analyst thinks that red eyes are just a red herring.
One Last? Ridiculous Thought. (and less ridiculous conclusions):
As I've plowed through all this, I had a creeping idea that this phenomenology was NOT the old dominant "Devil Dog" violent phenomenon, but rather the much less interacting wandering dog in the evening on the rural road. Mike Burgess seems to believe this too. His data says to him that the violent Shuck rests on legends and old stories, while the alternate vision dominates the modern stories and the better documented ones. This has hit him so strongly that he has come to his own conclusion that there is little, perhaps nothing at all, to the paranormal theory of the Black Dogs. The cases that he respects he feels are just as likely to be caused by real dogs running stray.
Mike Burgess seems to have come to this point due to his powerful work statistically. Very few characteristics show out in those stats. He is of course welcome to that view and has certainly earned it. But to me, this is a glass-half-empty position, whereas I am a glass-half-full type. For me, it is the mass of GOOD well-vetted encounters that shouts: There's some REALITY here!! Not that There's some un-reality here --- that latter is always true in such fields. There are always loads of bad reports; always loads of misinterpretations, bad observers; always strange other ways of seeing things. Mike Burgess is a great researcher, but I think that he came to the wrong conclusion.
But there is just one last thing before I make my stand as to the probable reality of a Rudkin-MacManus style of Black Dog. I DID get a small number of "violent" types of reports. What of them? Just outliers? Maybe just bad reports? Possibly. I have one very weird idea that snuck into my head. It's "Out Proctor" as we used to say here.
OK. There's a case from Aylesbury in the early 1800s where a large black fiery eyed dog grows larger as it approaches a terrified witness, who then hits the thing which explodes and disappears, meanwhile damaging the witness. There is another case from the same era from Tring, wherein the sees a similar creature coming out of a fire, terrorizing the witness and sinking back into the ground. And there is a case from Dartmoor in 1972 of a witness seeing a dog-shadow with fiery eyes, which is struck and explodes into light, destroying the house's electricity and breaks windows.
Explodes damaging the witness ... comes out of fire and sinks into the ground ... explodes when struck, breaks windows and puts out electrical system ....
Just wondering. Could there be some "unknown" phenomenon at work in a few instances here? Can there be something that manifests as a dark cloud or mass of something with the hint of fire inside (think of a kind of ball lightning surrounded by dark dusty cloud)? Could it be pretty "shocking" in more ways than one? Could it be a dynamic thing, scary and morphing shape?
Out Proctor. Yep. See this thing in the right cultural setting, and excitedly feel that one is being menaced by a Black Dog. The "Dog" gets "excited" and explodes or whatever.
Just a really weird data-less thought but what-the-heck, it's my blog.
A. This is soft.
B. The Black Dog phenomenon a la Rudkin-MacManus exists as the best witnesses describe.
C. The red-eyed Shuck phenomenon probably doesn't.
D. The Black Dog phenomenon isn't the Work of the Devil.
E. Some significant number of these cases perform just as if they are "film-strips" perhaps from the past, re-running its sequence now and then for unknown reasons.
F. Some significant number of the cases perform as if they have no real interest in the people, while others seem to at least deliberately pace with the witnesses.
G. The phenomenon is an outside phenomenon --- I have only one case which mimics the outdoor ones --- and that is one further reason for not seeing this as poltergeist in nature.
H. Does this Fairy Dog come from FAERY? It doesn't have much of a Faery feeling about it to me. Good fairyworld cases are "full of life." This seems much more "mechanical."
NOW ... just to leave off in as much confusion as possible: When I moved into my "new" retirement community, the sales representative visited my old place and was very interested in all the odd topic books and files, and after a few questions, she said: I had a strange experience once. And --- are you ready for this?
She was visiting a friend (maybe a cousin) at a rural farm. The cousin stated that there was a poltergeist in the barn, and it manifested all the time. She of course laughed that off. He insisted, so she called his bluff. They went to the barn, got quiet, and listened. There then came several knocks like footfalls from high up in the rafters. The cousin claimed success. She said "Right. Anything could do that. Maybe you even got one of your buddies in on the gag."
The cousin was miffed or seemed to be. He insisted that they try again. What the Heck. Why not? So back to the barn.
When they got there the cousin yelled out "that wasn't good enough! You'll have to do more than that!" She laughed again. But shortly the wall behind them began to seriously creak. It seemed to move and change color ... then it the middle of that wall THIS appeared:
This thing seemed to be coming right out of the wall, fiery red Devil Dog eyes and all .....
Well.... no joke folks ... true story ... and almost impossible to believe (not in terms of believing the young lady sales rep, that story came forth pure and true, but in terms of how my analysis of the Black Fairy Dog worked out.)
... no, I don't think that her story changes my mind about the above "conclusions", but it sure as heck complicates my mindscape about all of this.
I mean, who pays attention to fiery red eyes anyway?