Everyone loves a good spooky story now and again, especially around Halloween. But not every story features only humans who are doing the haunting. Many true tales of spectral dogs have been told around the campfire throughout history, and in the spirit of the holiday we’ve compiled a list of the six spookiest (and friendliest!) ones! So curl up with your pup and get ready for some hair-raising stories!
1. The Blue Dog Legend
Said to be the oldest ghost story in American history, the legend of Blue Dog dates back to the 1700’s in Port Tobacco, Maryland. Here, legend has it that late one night a man named Charles Thomas Sims entered a tavern with his faithful hound, Blue Dog. Sims proceeded to brag to the locals about his wealth in gold and ownership of a deed to a rather large estate. After a long night of drinking, Sims and his dog departed only to be stalked by a man named Henry Hanos, who wanted to rob Sims of his gold. A fight ensued on Rose Hill Road and ultimately both Sims and Blue Dog were killed. Hanos then buried Sim’s gold under a large holly tree on the same road where he planned to retrieve it once the dust had settled. However, when he returned to the tree some three days later, he was scared off by the ghost of Blue Dog who had returned to protect his master’s treasure. To this day, the locals say that every February 8th on the anniversary of the robbery, Blue Dog can be heard howling by the tree and waiting for his master to return for his treasure. Now that’s a loyal dog!
2. Preston the Boxer
In their book Ghost Dogs of the South, award-winning folklorists Randy Russell and Janet Barnett tell the tale of Preston the boxer, a friendly ghost dog who haunts the streets of the Bellmont Hillsboro neighborhood in Nashville every Halloween night. The story goes that one Halloween almost fifty years ago, Preston was walking with a group of trick-or-treaters when one little boy stopped to pick up candy that he had dropped in the road. The boy’s older sister went to pull him off the street as a car was fast approaching, but Preston the boxer got there first. He knocked the child out of the way of the vehicle and saved him, but was unfortunately hit himself by the car. After making sure her brother was okay, the girl went to look for Preston but mysteriously his body was never found. Now, locals say that every year on Halloween, trick-or-treaters who wander too close to the road have reported being bumped back onto the sidewalk by the gentle ghost of Preston, who walks diligently up and down the neighborhood until all the lights go out. What a good boy indeed!
3. Poogan the Porch Dog
Many southern dogs like to lounge on porches in the heat of summer, and Poogan was no exception. Locals of an affluent neighborhood in Charleston, South Carolina will tell you that back in the 1970’s, the most well-loved local of all was a street dog named Poogan who wandered from house to house eating whatever he was given and napping on any porch he could find. His favorite porch was that of the large, commodious mansion at 72 Queen Street where the owners would feed him and treat him well. However, one day they moved and sold their home, leaving Poogan behind to sleep on their porch. Eventually their home was turned into a restaurant where Poogan the street dog was still allowed to nap and given the job of greeting costumers as they entered. Poogan died of natural causes in 1979 and the restaurant still stands as a monument to him. However, many diners have reported hearing barking as they enter the restaurant and feeling a small dog brush against their legs as they eat. Some employees have also spotted Poogan still sleeping in his spot on the porch on hot, summer afternoons, as if nothing has changed since his days as a friendly street dog. If you’re ever in Charleston, South Carolina, we know what restaurant to recommend!
4. Two Ghostly Hounds
This story comes from the mouth of actor Christopher Knight himself, who played Peter Brady in the hit show The Brady Bunch. Knight tells a tale of how one night in-between filming for the show, he was staying at the house of his friend Mike Lookinland’s grandparents when he was visited by the ghosts of two hound dogs. They appeared at the foot of his bed while he was sleeping, and he awoke to feel their breath on his face. They were not menacing or scary, but rather regal and calm. Knight says they were also accompanied by a little girl who called to them from the doorway until they turned and left. The next morning, Knight mentioned the dogs to his friend’s grandparents who took him into the study and showed him a portrait of two hound dogs who used to live at the property. They looked identical to the dogs he saw in his bedroom and Knight remains convinced to this day that they were checking in on him while he slept. Oddly enough, no conclusion about the little girl was ever made, but we suppose that’s a tale for a different day!
5. The Hummelbaugh Howl
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania is allegedly one of the most haunted places in America thanks to its role in the American civil war. During that time, the Hummelbaugh House stood as a union field hospital and is known for being the place where Confederate Brigadier General William Barksdale died after becoming wounded in battle. Legend has it that after his burial in Gettysburg, his wife traveled to the town with his most loyal hunting hound to exhume his remains and have them brought back to their home in Mississippi. However, upon arriving at his burial sight, Barksdale’s hound flopped down beside his grave and began howling and crying. Barksdale’s wife attempted to move the dog but no matter what she did or said, the dog would not budge. All through the night the hound sat by the grave and howled and even after the remains were exhumed, the dog stayed. Barksdale’s wife chose to leave without her husband’s loyal companion and in the days following, locals say no one could get the dog to move, eat or even drink. Eventually, the hound dog passed away next to its master’s grave and to this day, visitors of the Hummelbaugh House say they can still hear howling coming from the cemetery late at night, especially on the anniversary of Barksdale’s death. If you’re ever in Gettysburg, don’t miss the opportunity to hear the howl of the Hummelbaugh hound!
6. The Return of Spot
In an interview done for the media-brand, animal activist group The DoDo, one woman named Ellie Thomas tells the heartwarming tale of her family’s loyal dog Spot. Spot was a small black and white terrier mix who was rescued by Thomas and her husband after they attended a street fair. Spot was brought back to their new home, raised alongside their children, captured in many home videos, and was described as the perfect family pet. After many years with the Thomas’, Spot passed away and was buried on the hill behind their home. Some years later after the Thomas family had moved to a different house not too far from their original, they ran into the new owners of their old house who told them a truly amazing tale. The new couple asked the Thomas’ if they had ever owned a small black and white dog, for it was often seen standing at the end of the hallway by the bedrooms. Amazed, the Thomas family was convinced that this was the spirit of their beloved dog Spot, who was such a part of their lives that it seems like he just couldn’t let them go. According to the new family, several people have seen Spot on multiple different occasions just standing in the hallway and watching, as if looking over all those who reside in the house. Just like in life, Ellie Thomas knows Spot is making sure she and her family are safe by returning to the home where they all once lived so perfectly together. Good dog, Spot!
What do you think? Do you believe in ghostly dogs returning to those whom they loved in life, or do you imagine these are all just legends? We’ll let you and your pup decide this Halloween and, as always, we hope you have a safe and spooky holiday!