Day 177: Ozark Ghost Tales: Ghost Dogs



From Vance Randolph’s “Ozark Magic and Folklore”:

“There are many tales of great ghost dogs, and other monstrous animals. One of my best friends told me seriously that as a little boy in McDonald county, Missouri, he once met a spotted hound that was bigger than a cow, and made tracks in the snow nearly two feet across. At the time he was astounded that a dog should attain such a size, but it never entered his head that there was anything supernatural about the animal. It was years later, when he came to realize that there were no such dogs anywhere in the world, he knew that he had seen a “booger dog.” When I first heard this tale I suspected that the man had invented it for my especial benefit, but on checking with his relatives I learned that he had told the same story more than twenty years previously, and that it was known to everybody in the neighborhood.”

“Around the town of Bunker, in Reynolds county, Missouri, they still tell of the ghost dog that Dr. J. Gordon encountered years ago. Crossing a little stream on horseback, near the Bay Cemetery about nine miles west of Bunker, late at night, he saw a figure like a dog, but very much larger. This thing apparently walked on the water without a sound or a ripple. Dr. Gordon saw it many times, once in bright moonlight. Sometimes it crossed ahead of him. Once it jumped on the horse behind the doctor. The animal plunged wildly, and the doctor fired his derringer into the ghost dog twice, but it was not dislodged. He struck at the beast with his fist, the gun still in his hand, but could feel nothing, and his arm slashed right through the figure as if there was nothing there.”

“Some night hunters in Pemiscot county, Missouri, swore they saw an enormous black dog, fully eight feet long, without any head. They came close to the creature, and one man threw his ax at it, but the ax passed right through the body of the booger dog and stuck fast in a tree. The coon hounds which accompanied the men paid no attention but acted as if they didn’t see the big varmint at all. One member of the party had been drinking, but the rest of the hunters were quite sober. And every one of them saw the headless ghost. The fact that the dogs paid no attention somehow reassured them, and they were not panic stricken as might be expected.”

“Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Mahnkey tells how a fiddler named Jake Lakey was killed at a dance in Taney county, Missouri, about 1900. Her neighbor young Lewis Blair and another boy were sent on horseback to break the news to Jake’s wife, who lived several miles away. Blair told Mrs. Mahnkey that a great black dog ran beside their horses all the way, and when one of the riders struck at the creature with a quirt, the quirt slashed right through it. And when they got to their destination, Mrs. Lakey said calmly: ‘You’ens have come to tell me that Jake is dead.'”

“A young man near Alma, Arkansas, was passing a deserted house one night, when he saw a strange woman in a long white robe standing at the gate. A little fuzzy white dog ran out in front of him, and it seemed to be barking, although he heard no sound. The boy threw a stone at the dog and was astounded to see the animal separate into two parts, let the stone pass through, and then go back together again. He talked the matter over with his parents, and they agreed that it was evidently a warning of some impending evil, probably an early death. The young fellow lived for many years, however, and I believe he is still alive. But about a month after he saw the ghost dog, he had one of his eyes gouged out. Farmers near Braggadocio, Dunklin county, Missouri, tell of a headless dog supposed to live in a hollow elm tree just outside the town. At night this phantom runs through the village streets. It behaves just like any other dog, but it is clearly headless. Many people have seen it on moonlight nights, usually at a distance of about twenty yards. The town dogs always get out of its way but do not seem panic-stricken or unduly alarmed. ”

“Tom Moore tells of an old woman who lived alone in a shanty near Galena, Missouri. Each evening passers-by heard her talking animatedly, although they could see that she was alone. People who heard her talk said that she spoke as if to a man and often referred to a dog which accompanied the man, though neither man nor dog was visible. Finally the old woman became ill and was taken to the poorhouse where she died. After her death several residents of Galena saw a whiskered stranger with a big dog near the old woman’s cabin. This man and dog were seen by different people on several occasions but disappeared suddenly at the edge of a cliff. Because of this unexplained disappearance, apparently, Judge Moore and others decided that the stranger and his dog were somehow supernatural.”

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