Walking alone down a dark road, you notice a strange black dog staring at you. It stands very still, with huge eyes glinting red in the moonlight, seeming to choose you for some unknown purpose. Should you run, or should you stand quietly and hope it moves on. Suddenly, the dog turns and races away though the woods leaving you relieved, but fightened. There was something about that dog that didn't seem real. Perhaps what you saw was the ominous Black Shuck of British legend.
Black Shuck is a spectral dog said to haunt the Norfolk, Essex and Suffolk coast of England. Its eyes, sometimes glowing red, and sometimes green, are its most striking feature. They seen to bore a hole straight through the witnesses heart. The beast's size can vary as well. I suspect the greater the victims fear, the larger Black Shuck appears. Does it feed and grow on terror?
Black Shuck has been the source of fear for a very long time. His name may mean demon, from the Anglo-Saxon word scucca, or possibly shaggy from the equally old word shucky. Alternately, he could be a historical memory of Odin's dog of war, Shukir.
He usually brings tidings of ill, but not always. At times he seems content to merely terrify his quarry by dramatically floating in mist, or even appearing headless before his quaking watcher.
Do you see the scorched scratch marks in this church door? Legend has it those scratches were caused by Black Shuck during a fierce thunder storm at a village named Blythburgh in Suffolk. In the year 1577, Shuck burst through the church entry, ran up the nave, and left a man and boy dead in his wake. As you can see, the scratch marks are still there for all the world to consider. They are called, by the way, the Devil's fingerprints.
On the same day, a second encounter with Black Shuck occurred in the nearby town of Bungay. Once again, Shuck burst through the church door, ran up and down the nave and killed two people by wringing their necks.
You shouldn't be surprised if Black Shuck sounds familiar. A very similar spectral dog is featured in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's, The Hound of the Baskervilles. Sherlock Holmes finds an entirely logical solution to the hound's existence. Logic is always reassuring. So if you meet as large black dog with glowing eyes, remember there is a logical answer to everything. Or is there?