Hell hounds have become one of my favorite folkloric images over the past few years.
The novel that has no name, otherwise known as the fantasy novel I’m writing that I don’t intend on publishing, features a hound called Doyle who’s the size of a small pony and doesn’ t much like his job.
In honor of Ghost Month, this week’s feature is looking at a hound so familiar to his region that he’s been granted a name-Black Shuck.
Black Shuck presents in a fairly common manner. He’s large, very large in fact, and is solid black. He may or may not present as exceptionally furry and his eyes are sometimes described as large as saucers. Along with their exceptional size, his eyes may also be red or green depending on sighting. Shuck is at home in the British countryside including Norfolk, Essex, and Cambridgeshire.
Shuck seems to like normal hell hound haunts, including crossroads and graveyards though witnesses have claimed to see him elsewhere. What he implies seems to vary depending on location and era. He is often assumed to be a harbinger of death, either implying immediate death or death by the end of the year. Other times he seems to only be interested in frightening people, but with no long lasting ill effects.
It should be noted that while similarities exist between cases-including stories of hell hounds in Goodleberg Cemetery and dogs seen in the Boston, Massachusetts area-it should not be assumed that Shuck is the same myth as, say, Moddey Dhoo. As with all legends, there is a fair amount of variation and a fairly wide spread with regards to the patterns and timings of descriptions (see this page for a detailed breakdown of characteristics in relation to era of report).