The phantom black dog is a common folkloric motif and the most famous example is probably the black dog of Bungay.
The story took place in August 4th 1577 and it resulted in two people being killed in Bungay church where they were shelterting from a storm. Damage was also done to the church, many were injured and the dog reappeared 12 miles away where it killed others. This Suffolk based story is one of many from the UK and it is often said that the dog (Black Shuck as he is sometimes known) presages a death.
All very well and interesting but most black dog stories are old. So imagine my delight when I received an email from Lars Munk Sørensen, telling of his own recent sighting. I reproduce the email below:-
"Sightings of the Black phantom Dog of Viborg:
A report by Lars Munk, Danish M. A. of Theology
My city of Viborg used to be called Wibierga, “Holy Mountains”, because
the hills here at the centre of the ancient road net and ley lines in
the heart of Jutland were sacred since stone age times. The “wi” itself
lies just north of the present cathedral, and according to legend the
Black Dog (various independent sightings in a string from Syvhøje,
across Middle Jutland by way of grave mounds, cemeteries, places of
pagan magic and ancient sacred sites, to the Wi at Viborg) runs around
the northern edge of Viborg lake, along the old mediaeval Nørremøllevej
(North Mill Rd.), through a city gate that is no longer there, and then
up to the Wi by the cathedral, where it disappears into the ground at
the stroke of midnight. It has done so since time immemorial, but in
2001 I decided to have a look myself: I took a second sighted woman with
me to the Wi, and just before midnight she reported to see the Phantom
Dog coming around the corner, up to the hill of the Wi - she said it
stopped, seemingly baffled to be sighted again; all that I could see by
then was a sprinkling of moon-lit dust inside a small “wind devil” (a
mini-tornado) seeping up to the Wi and engulfing it at the exact stroke
On the way back, by Nørremøllevej, I suddenly felt the hairs on my
neck standing out, and I turned and looked - the woman said, without
looking back: “Now you see it, too, don´t you?”
Yes, I did: Across the road, what at first looked like a great black dog
(something akin to the semi-wild dogs of the Danish stone ages) walked
under a street light, and it suddenly looked at me, eyes and mouth
seemingly lit from inside by green light, pointed ears and a ridge of
harsh hairs on its back; parts of the body came and went with
fluorescent green shimmers.
Then it disappeared into the darkness beyond the light.
I am a danish theologian, yet I have to admit that there are more
things between heaven and earth … the Black Dog of Viborg takes it on
trips, independently of how man sights it or disbelieves in it. Every
night it runs along the same route, to the Wi at the center of the ley
lines, perhaps as guardian of the sanctum that might come to light, if
you removed the cathedral?"
Lars then went on to tell me (after I had asked of any deaths that occured after the sighting) that his "aunt died shortly after the date of this 2001 sighting - which, btw, happened just before 9/11".
Lars published a book in 2006 on Satanism based on a course he had been teaching at the University of Aarhu. Only in Danish at the moment but if anyone wants to publish an English translation then get in touch and I'll pass the information on.
And as for Girt Black Dogs - it seems that they might not be as much a thing of the past as we all thought...