In quite a few of today's better horror films and stories, there are a number of large black dogs snarling, growling and prowling about, ready to pounce on their victims with a crazed look in their eyes. They are usually referred to as hell hounds or something of the like and their purpose is pretty simple. They exist either to drag a person's soul (or body) back to hell, to tear a person to shreds to release their soul to hell or simply to terrify a person so much that it warns them in no uncertain terms to back off what ever they were doing that ticked off what ever evil forces the dogs were working for so they stop. They stop immediately, and usually leave town if they are smart, and take up a new liking for cats!
The scary thing is, these dogs are not just a figment of modern day writers and film-makers. The tales of these dogs are rooted in legend and folklore, and as with anything else that is handed down by word of mouth from generation to generation, there just might be some substance behind this legend.
The stories originated in Britain and the hounds were called the Barghest.In olden times the word for ghost was pronounced "guest" in Northern England and the word "Bar" put together with it could have made the origin of the word "town ghost" but perhaps that wasn't the original meaning at all. We will never know, but whatever the original meaning of the word, most stories of the Barghest tell of a very large black dog with red eyes and very large, sharp teeth.
Some tales have likened the Barghest to a werewolf in ferocity and strength, others say it comes as a harbinger of death, merely to warn of impending doom. Others say they are simply evil and will kill at will simply for the sport of it. Some say they will steal your babies and small children from their cradles at night to take them to their lair to eat as a midnight snack.
One must be very wary of the Barghest. They are difficult to hunt and almost impossible to capture because thy also have the capability of shapshifting. According to legend, they have been known to be able to transform into cats, trolls, elves, ravens, rabbits and even human form.
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