Delaware’s Fence Rail Dog
Halloween is sneaking upon us, and there is nothing better than a spooky tale. This week is Delaware’s Fence Rail Dog, a legend about a black dog. Except, this tale isn’t about an average black dog.
It haunts a stretch of road along Delaware’s highway 12. Known as Midstate road, it runs through Frederica and Felton. Since the 1900s, sightings of this hairy beast abound. Our elusive canine is tall as a typical rail fence, according to witnesses. That makes our beast 4ft at the shoulders and 10ft long from the nose’s tip to its hairy tail. That is a huge dog. It matches the descriptions told in ghost stories about the legend of the Black dog.
Like the legend of the Black dog, it has red glowing eyes and is fast. Witnesses report that it keeps pace with cars speeding down the highway. The Fence Rail dog isn’t aggressive, but it is intelligent and alert. It likes running along with vehicles but doesn’t attack them.
Not like the Hell Hounds reported by bikers in Utah and New Mexico. There used to be a route 666, Devil’s Highway, that ran through Utah into New Mexico. These unlucky drivers tell of a pack of Black dogs attacking them. Two of the bikers lost their arms, mauled by the beast. Like the Fence Rail Dog, the Hell Hound is black with red glowing eyes. Route 666 is now route 491 in hopes of lessening the scary happenings. It didn’t. Motorists still report giant Black dogs racing alongside their vehicles.
The Legend of the Black Dog is a well-known story in the British Isles. As early as 1127, witnesses tell of a spooky tale about a group of hunters. Mysterious hunters were riding coal-black horses accompanied by huge black dogs with glowing red eyes. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used the myth in The Hounds of Baskerville, published in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.
News of the ominous hunters spread across the countryside. Whenever a local citizen spots this group, terrible events followed in their wake. The Celts report the ebony-coated canines as aggressive and ominous. Oral tales passed down through the generations about the Black dog. Rumors have the dog as a pet of the Devil. Hell Hounds sent to earth to torment humans.
Packs of ghost dogs reported howling in the darkness written from all over England. Forboding and ominous predictors of disaster and deaths. In Wales, Black dogs could see the death hounds of the Goddess Anwyn.
In Scotland, strange dogs foretell of new friendships. So, not all stories about Black dogs were terrible. The Greeks thought that black dogs were messengers of Hecate. Hecate is the Greek Goddess of witchcraft and death. Their association with the dark Goddess meant their presence often preceded someone’s death.
One creepy story of the Black Dog happened on August 4, 1577. Imagine if you will living in East Anglia on the night of horrible summer tempest. You are taking shelter inside the parish church when a Demon dog materializes. Then the Hound from Hell went on a rampage. It chased people, smashing the baptismal, and killing three parishioners. Anyone getting near the monster got burned for their troubles.
Sightings of the dog continued around cemeteries, old bridges, and riverbanks. People tell of their encounters and feeling an icy chill when the black dog passes by. The descriptions are always the same. Huge with black fur and large red glowing eyes.
Is Delaware’s Fence Rail Dog the same as the legend of the Black Dog?
Theories differ depending on location in Delaware. One idea is that the Fence Rail Dog is the spirit of an outlaw. An outlaw that committed suicide once surrounded by the local law. He didn’t want to go to jail, so he killed himself. The act cursed him into returning to earth as a Black dog. Another theory is that the Black dog is the vengeful spirit of a dead slave. The slave was a young boy killed by his abusive owner. The man dumped the body alongside highway 12. The boy’s restless spirit in the form of the Black dog roams the road.
A final thought is that the dog returned to avenge his owner’s death. The owner ran a boarding house, and one of the tenants killed him. If killing the owner wasn’t bad enough, the tenant ground the owner up. Then fed the remains to the owner’s pet, killing him once the dog finished eating his master. The dog returned a vengeful ghost to protect others from meeting the same fate.
I like this story the best. It is nice to think that there is a guardian spirit watching that stretch of road. Defending innocents from becoming victims.
The stories are lovely, but no one knows for sure where the Fence Rail Dog originated.
Sightings of the Fence Rail Dog have the dog in the rain or before storms on highway 12. Witnesses describe seeing an oversized dog or wolf running alongside their car. Rarer sightings describe the creature as looking more like a Hyena. Only larger than an average hyena and much darker.
Sightings of a hyena are fascinating because cryptozoologists published an article in 1977. The article was about Shunka Waraka’rin. The Shunka Waraka’rin is a fascinating story that deserves to have its own time in written anals. Next week I will write about this cryptid, but this week belongs to the Fence Rail Dog.
If one night while in Delaware, you are driving down highway 12 between Frederica and Felton. Then you glimpse a hairy black-colored dog with red glowing eyes keeping pace with you? I wouldn’t stop or slow down in case it isn’t the Fence Rail dog.