From my theme calendar for the month titled Inspiration.
photo by Steve Bloom Images - Alamy.
Doom Dog, Dog of Darkness, Barguest, Black Shuck, Shriker, Old Shock, Padfoot, the Mauthe Doog - names given to a species of spectral hound which haunt the laneways, crossroads and moors in various parts of Britain.
By and large an apparition tied to location rather than person. And one, moreover, quite catholic in its intent and appearance. Sometimes a forewarning, sometimes an aggressive danger, sometimes (though not often) with a protective purpose.
One of these "straunge and terrible" creatures, however, apparently crossed the Atlantic and attached itself to a branch of my husband's family, appearing consecutively to the eldest male member of each generation. Usually in autumn, when the mist lies thick in the hollows and smothers the feet of passersby. No one knew precisely why, except in the lamplight at clan gatherings there were dark whispers of murder of a solitary settler and theft of his gold. He had, so the story goes, a large black mastiff -- which disappeared.
The last known sighting occurred sometime in the last century, possibly in the 1930s. The traveller, confronted by a big black dog on a lonely country road, threw the mill chains he carried at the creature and they went right through it.
Many years later, my husband was disappointed when, on an appropriate misty October night on the Gray Road that courses along the rocky ridge above the river, he deliberately presented himself as the eldest born for a visitation from the family specter.
Nothing large loomed out of the mooncast shadows. No click of claws on the gravel. No padding of feet in front or behind. Not even a howl.
Perhaps cold iron is efficacious after all.
Some of you may remember -- from a snippet posted some time ago -- Lillie's occassional companion, Dumbarton the Doom Dog ("Dummy" for short), the watch dog with the phospherous grin.
This is his lineage. He emerged from folklore and family lore.