While black cats, bats, and spiders are the creatures of which much of
Halloween is made, there are also legends of a ghostly black dog out
there. This bit of folklore comes mainly from the British Isles, though
some are also found in other parts of Europe. The supernatural dog is
said to be huge and shaggy with glowing red eyes and bared teeth.
This terrifying hound is primarily seen at night, is often associated with electrical storms, and is a portent of death. It has also been associated with crossroads, ancient trails, and places of execution. The appearance and behavior of the dogs varies by locale.
In Devonshire, England, the yeth hound or yell hound is believed by some to be the origin or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's book The Hound of the Baskervilles. This legend apparently began with one Richard Cabell, an English squire from near the town of Devon back in the 17th century. He was considered a monstrous sort of man who lived for hunting and immoral behavior. It was said that he had sold his soul to the devil and rumor had it that he had murdered his wife. He died in 1677 and on the night of his interment a mysterious pack of hounds came baying across the moor to sit at his tomb and howl. From then on, on the anniversary of his death, he could be seen in the moonlight leading a procession of phantom hounds across the moors, or they could be found howling around his grave. Other tales narrowed the dogs down to just one terrifying hound.
In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Doyle described the hound as "an enormous coal-black hound, but not such a hound as mortal eyes have ever seen." The mutt also had fire in his eyes and breath.
Other such black dog legends exit throughout Europe and Latin America, and they go back more than a thousand years. The earliest known sighting was in France in 856 A.D. In this case the dog suddenly appeared inside a church even though the doors were closed. As it paced up and down the aisle as though looking for someone the church grew unnaturally dark. Then the dog vanished just as mysteriously as it had appeared.
Sadly, black dogs, just like black cats, are often the last to be adopted from shelters. My advice to everyone this Halloween is to love a black pet near you!