Newfoundland unexplained -
Several years ago, I received a letter from "Pat" in Dawson Creek, British Columbia who had a story of a phantom New-foundland dog. "In our previous home we were often visited by the spirits of two of our pets who had passed on: Chelsea, our old cocker spaniel, who had to be put down because of dementia and basic old age and body failure, and Bear, who had to be put down because of cancer," writes Pat.
"In Chelsea's case, we figure she just didn't realize she'd passed on. She could often be felt, laying in one of her two favourite places: right by the front door, with her nose pressed to it (the dirt mark from her nose reappeared no matter how vigorously it was cleaned off); and on the hearth in front of the fireplace."
"In Bear's case, he would roll over in the middle of the night, crashing into our closet doors," Pat describes. "Bear was 140 lbs, and was a Newfie/Rough Collie cross. He was gigantic. When he rolled over and hit the closet, it made a "BANG!" noise. We still heard it occasionally in the middle of the night, long after his passing."
Pat added that after they got a new dog, George, Bear's visits tapered off. "We feel he knows we are being watched over and he can move on. We are very pleased he stayed with us as long as he did."
I filed away the letter, adding it to the strange, but true stories that are sent my way from time to time. Something told me that I should hold onto the story, perhaps figuring that a ghostly Newfoundland dog would be good material for a future newspaper article.
The remarkable thing about ghost stories is that no matter how odd they might seem, when you hear one, you seem to eventually hear another one that is similar in some way. This proved to be true with the story of Bear, the ghostly Newfoundland.
"Lore of the Land" is a remarkable book by Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson. A guide to the local legends of England, the book is more than 900 pages long, not exactly the sort of thing you polish off in one sitting.
In the chapter on Devon, I came across a remarkable story concerning a ghostly Newfoundland dog, and I thought back to the story that had been sent to me months earlier. The Devon story was much older, having been originally written down by a woman named Sarah Hewitt in 1900.
Ms. Hewitt's tale concerns a man who met an eerie Newfoundland whilst crossing Roborough Down, Dartmoor, on a frosty and appropriately moonlit December night. The man was walking along the downs, when he heard the pit-pat of feet. He stopped and looked around, but no one could be seen. As soon as he started walking again, the same noise was heard.
"Suddenly there appeared close to his right side an enormous dog, neither mastiff nor bloodhound, but what seemed to him to be a Newfoundland of enormous size. Dogs were always fond of him, and he of them, so he took no heed of this (to him) lovely canine specimen. Presently he spoke to him, 'Well, doggie, what a beauty you are; how far are you going?', at the same time lifting his hand to pat him. Great was the man's astonishment, for his hand passed right through the seeming body of the animal."
As the man spoke to the dog, it yawned, and "from its throat issued a stream of sulphurous breath." The man ran, the dog following, until they reached a crossroads. There was a loud crash and flash of lightning, which knocked the man to the ground.
The man was found senseless in a ditch the next morning, and when woken, he had quite the yarn to spin.
Dale Jarvis can be reached at email@example.com