My tale begins a few months ago, in a dark gloomy biology lab. I am pouring over a rat dissection, whilst my partner in the study plays the “famous game” with my name. For those not in the know, this is an odd game whereby you google someone’s name and count how many references there are to them on the first 5 pages of Google. The more famous you are, the higher your score and then you win a prize, usually a small cake.
After we found that my name produces a lot of hits to this very website (try it, get us more hits!), most of which were to do with big cats, a friend shouted across the table that:
“Maybe that was what I saw the other night!”
Hold on! What? This is now the third of my close friends to have seen a big black “something” out on the roads in north Somerset. I asked her to describe what she saw and to draw a quick sketch of it. The description is as follows:
“I was driving home at about 22:30 after taking my boyfriend back to his house. I decided to take the more fun route home via the country lanes that link our houses. Halfway home, a huge black animal walked out of the bushes on my right hand side. I did an emergency stop to prevent myself from hitting it. It’s eyes glowed in the dark, and when it walked over into the front of the car it looked at me straight in the eye. It looked like a huge dog; like an Alsatian but much bigger; bigger than any dog I have ever seen. It had a long tail which curled at the end with shaggy fur. The eyes were huge and crazy, fierce red in colour but in such a way that the animal looked mad. It continued looking at me before it walked off in an odd manner to the left of the car where it melted and merged into the bushes without disturbing anything, something which seemed a hard feat for such a huge animal. I could not see it after it went into the side of the road, the eyes were probably blocked by branches.
“If pushed to give measurements for it, I would say that it weighed over 100kgs, its head was long like a wolves’, whilst it’s total length must have been over 7’. It did not seem threatening, despite the eyes. I did not want to get out of the car to follow it, but it never seemed hostile to me being in it’s area, just dismissive.”
The sheer size of the beast, the red “crazy” eyes and the odd way that it walked and moved into the bushes make me think that this was a phantom black dog. Now, I am hardly an authority on this particular zooform, but does anyone have any idea what it could be? A big cat is right out, the long muzzle and long coat drop this one pretty quickly. If it was a large domestic or feral dog, the eyes would have possibly gone a red colour in the blaze of the car’s lights, but this is a colour that seems liquid, and would be quite different to the crazy eyes described. Surely everyone has seen a dog’s eyes at night when a torch is shone on them; they glow, but not a fiery red. But the odd walk, the way it merged with the bushes on the left of the car and the strange eyes are a bit of a thorn in this theory’s side.
Somerset’s Gurt Dog is the best candidate for the explanation. Usually appearing as a huge dog with shaggy black fur and glowing red eyes, the zooform perfectly matched the description. The Gurt Dog is usually seen by roads and footpaths (check!), at night, and walks either in front of the viewer, or it follows them. It is supposedly benevolent, unlike the malevolent dogs which haunt the rest of the country. It is supposed to keep children safe out on the moors and can guide lost travellers home again. However, in the 60s a black dog appeared to two people, and they both died shortly afterward. Seeing as my friend has not died yet, nor suffered any ill (touch wood), one hopes that the same fate will not befall her.
If we want to make a bit of a jump, this sighting can be explained by the domestic dog theory. The size has been exaggerated due to shock, the odd walk due to a wound or a characteristic of its ‘breed’, and the red eyes exaggerated, again from shock. Then we have a normal dog (feral or not). I, however, feel that this is a bit of a leap too far to explain the sighting. I say that the Gurt Dog of Somerset has risen once more.