I mentioned Vance Randolph in the first Ozarkian spook tale. He was well-known in the area as a collector of folklore and mythology. Today I'm going to tell you about the booger dog (laugh it up, I know what you're thinking). This is what he had to say on the subject:
One of my best friends told me seriously that as a little boy in McDonald county, Missouri, he once met a spotted hound that was bigger than a cow, and made tracks in the snow nearly two feet across. At the time he was astounded that a dog should attain such a size, but it never entered his head that there was anything supernatural about the animal. It was years later, when he came to realize that there were no such dogs anywhere in the world, he knew that he had seen a "booger dog."
It's entirely possible that the booger dog, also referred to as a hellhound, is a myth brought to the Ozarks from our Scotch-Irish ancestors. A couple of years ago there were several sightings of a hellhound in the Ozarks. So much so that on the local radio station, they called in a paranormal investigator and now Paul the Nixa Hellhound has his own FB page.
I have my own booger dog sighting from a few years ago if you're interested. One afternoon before Memorial Day in 2006, I'd been to Walmart to get flowers to put on my dad's grave. I turned on a road named Swinging Bridge to go to the cemetery and an animal ran in front of the car. It was about the size of a large dog, reddish in color, smooth coat, no tail and pointy ears. It was running hell-for-leather for no apparent reason. It was built like a dog, but it had the muscle mass of a big cat and it ran like a cat. I stopped to see if I could get a better look at it, but it's really brushy on that road. I've never seen it since. I do walk in that area and I've love to know what it was close up.
Back to black booger dogs, this is the story largely associated with the Ozarks.
When Taney, Stone, and Christian Counties were first settled, community was an important thing. Folks were used to helping one another and going to church. Of course, there are always hermits and hateful people hiding out in the hills and hollers.
One man by the name of Wolf(e), lived around a community and while everyone was busy helping a family that had a bad crop year, he refused to. He was reputed as blasphemer and generally left alone. He grew old and sick and was on his deathbed. Some of the neighboring men came around to try to talk him into being saved before he died. He renounced God again and the house was struck by lightning and caught fire. The men who'd come to visit tried to lift him out of bed, but he seemed to be stuck. They tried moving the bed, but it too was stuck to the floor. Finally they had to leave or be burned up, so they left Wolf(e) there.
They'd no sooner stepped out into fresh air than a big black dog ran out the door and into the woods. When the fire burned itself out, they sifted through the ashes trying to find the old man's bones, but there wasn't anything left. Naturally, they assumed he'd transformed into the devil dog.
You can find this story and a few others (including Randolf's account) at the blog: The Spirit Seekers.
Happy Friday, kids! May your path be ever without shadowy dogs.