IN THE REALM OF THE STYGIAN CANINES

PHANTOM DOGS

I know, you can’t see anything in the photograph, because neither could I. I was at the entrance to Skinwalker Ranch. the guard had just blinded me with a flood light, and he had released the dogs. In darkness I was on one knee trying to get pictures of the dogs running at me, while in the background I could here Steve Murillo screaming at me to get back in the car. 

No, they were not Phantom Black Dogs, they weren’t even that imposing to be honest, but Phantom Dogs was the reason we were there at this spot at 2 AM.

Earlier in the night we had stopped at the gas station/store to get snacks and Steve’s cocaine, also known as Diet Mt Dew. Personally, I go straight to the hard stuff, Vanilla Coke. While we we there, we asked if they had ever seen anything strange, since they were located half a mile from the Ranch. We hear a bottle drop and spill on to the floor. Welcome to Fort Duchesne Utah, and at the intersection where typical life on the reservation ends and tales of the Skinwalker begin.

The gas station was run by a high school age kid and his mom. The mom whom had dropped the drink after our question was clearly uncomfortable with our line of questioning. It’s understandable. The kid was much more forthcoming and he was going to feature extensively in our adventures there, and as it turned out, he had a sighting on the road in front of the Ranch, a sighting of two floating Black Dogs with red eyes.

The road leading to the Ranch was kind of a local dare location for high school kids, to see how close you could get to the property. While on such a dare, he claims to have witnessed two dogs coming at him in the distance. It was late and dark, so at first he didn’t noticed the strange details. Then he realized that they were not actually running, but floating above the ground. He also reported that they had shinning red eyes, which is something that is reported in many Phantom Black Dogs encounters, especially in the UK. 

Did he see this phenomenon, or was it just the dogs that I saw and imagination took over? After my adventure with the guard dogs, and yes I did run back into the car and closed the door just as the dogs leaped at the open window, my first thought was those were probably the dogs he saw, and imagination and expectation took over. However, as we starting to spend more time in the area, and got to know the kid much better, he proved to be a quality witness I absolutely believe honest, and light of the much stranger things heard about in the area, Phantom Black Dogs didn’t seem so unreasonable.

Spend enough time in Fort Duchesne, and the strange is just called Tuesday and nothing seems impossible the rest of the days either. It’s that kind of place. Still, Phantom Black Dogs are predominantly a British phenomenon, associated with certain haunted areas. In the United States , it’s usually an East Coast phenomenon,and still very rare.

On the other hand, if we take the position that appearance is subjective and that the real source of Black Phantom Dogs can manifest and communicate via other visual forms, perhaps the phenomenon is more global than previously thought. Some years ago, I was at the podium at MUFON L.A when a gentleman from the audience told me of a sighting he had in Topanga Canyon . Topanga Canyon is a well known UFO hot spot but also known for sightings of a ghostly White Lady. His sighting however wasn’t a UFO or ghostly lady, but instead of a very large strikingly white dog with no tail. He wasn’t sure if the dog disappeared suddenly or if he simply lost sight of it, but due to the size and the lack of tail, he thought there was something supernatural about it. I don’t know, but in light of the location, I just thought it was potentially interesting.

HELLHOUNDS

Generally speaking Black Phantom Dogs are large, abnormally large, often resembling Great Danes. But ore shaggy looking dogs have also been reported. It can appear during the day as well as at night. The night sightings are more dramatic which is due to the glowing eyes. The color is generally red, but anything from yellow, green to silver has been reported. The one commonality between all sightings is the the dog is generally silent and at some point is going to disappear right before your eyes. It has been knowing to be aggressive from time to time, but for most part appears to just wander and keep its distance until it dematerializes.

The jet black coloration, red glowing eyes is a common theme in phantom animals which is partly why I suspect a common source and purpose. In certain areas of Britain such as Cannock Chase, you have sightings of the Man Monkey, a sort of phantom ape. You also have reports of a phantom type of Bigfoots and something that resemble a Werewolf. Obviously, biology and common sense intervenes when discussing Werewolves and Bigfoot in Britain. The later, a true biological entity in North America and in remote places in Asia and elsewhere could not remain undetected in a more finite and accessible area in modern Britain. No, something else is going on here.

THE BLACK DOG OF BUNGAY

Bungay was, and is, a quiet town just twenty miles from the sea. Located in Suffolk county in Eastern England; it has a relatively small population of less than 5000. Many of that 5000 know the story of the Black Shuck, and some have even seen it.

August 4, 1577 was a strange day in Bungay. A violent thunderstorm was raging, with rain, hail and a heavy darkness.  It was a Sunday and people were attending the church of St. Marys, with some trepidation I suppose, in light of the weather.  The Bungay church was full, as many were seeking refuge from the storm, as houses of the time werent particularly sturdy.

At some point, thunder struck, and the doors blew open and a large Black Dog came rushing in and proceeded to attack the congregation. Two people were killed before the beast ran away. Some reports indicate that the dog materialized inside the church instead of coming in from the outside.  In light of the doors blowing open before the animal, that is debatable, but that is how the story goes. 

Regardless, the dog wasnt done, as it next made an appearance 10 miles away at the church of Blyhburgh. There also, it attacked the congregation, but this time left proof of its appearance.  It clawed the outside door of the church, claw marks that are still visible today.

Suffolk above and Norfolk county next door, have a long tradition of spectral Black Dogs called Black Shuck, which remain a modern phenomenon. These spectral dogs usually appear outdoors on a path or road and will follow an individual but remain just out of reach, very rarely aggressive. I do know of a couple accounts where individuals in more modern times have been attacked, one taking refuge in a tree and a man who claimed the beast kept attacking the outside of his cabin. These are of course hard to verify, and even more so when we go further back in time such as the tale above from the 1500’s. That has to be kept in mind when discussing this subject. Superstition often colors the blank areas of a story.

Going back to the more well known areas for Phantom Black Dogs, also called Black Schuk in Suffolk and Norfolk, we can start to paint a consistent picture of what we are dealing with. As I already mentioned these dogs are very large, very black with red eyes, the later which is not found in nature.  There are no such things as red-eyed dogs.  It seems here, traits are specifically selected to be intimidating but also fit within a zeitgeist of what would be accepted of an encounter with Phantom Black Dogs on a lonely road. Context matters. Mythology matters. Expectations matter.

Taking all that to an expected inevitability, when these phantoms are unusually aggressive, witnesses claim a sense of malevolence about them.  I have always found the idea of malevolence intriguing but perhaps misplaced when it comes to these sightings.  In truth what we are talking about is not a tangible malevolence, but the perception of malevolence, no doubt influenced by cultural expectations.  Black Dogs are also called Hellhounds and are historically associated with the Black Man of the forest, the Devil.  Perceptions do not measure what is really there, but how our bodies interpret information.

PHYSICALITY

A brief, but important, sighting took place in April of 1972 in Gorleston, Norfolk in England.  At 4:45 in the morning, coast guard Graham Grant watched a large Black Dog running along the beach.  Nothing unusual here, except maybe the size of the animal, until the dog suddenly disappeared in the middle of the beach while he was watching it, making this sighting important on several levels. We have a quality witness not in a suggestive state by any means.  He was in a familiar place, at work, not in a reputed haunted location.  Furthermore, there is very little place to hide or run to on a beach.  Some cases where the animal is said to disappear suddenly can be the result of taking your eye off the animal briefly and the animal runs back into the forest. This holds especially true for sightings from a moving vehicle where it is difficult to keep an animal on the side of the road in view once you pass the animal. By the time you slow down or stop to obtain a better view, the animal can be long gone.

In this case however, the animal disappeared in full view with a witness from a stationary position.  More importantly in my opinion, is that the dog was seemingly unaware of being watched from a distance. This would suggest that Black Dogs have some type of existence of their own, an independent reality. This was never a given, since we do not know anything about Black Dogs when we are not observing them.  But, as is the case in other areas of Parapsychology, you cannot ever truly separate the observer from what is observed.

So, the question that we must ask, even if these Black Dogs function independently, is whether we’ve had a hand in creating the phenomenon to begin with.  A sort of poltergeist effect, but on a grand cultural scale.

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